Zac Stacy became Vanderbilt’s all-time leading rusher and the Commodores — in some ways — overcame themselves as much as they did Auburn in a 17-13 victory Saturday at Vanderbilt Stadium.
Stacy broke Frank Mordica’s mark of 2,632 yards (set from 1976-79) when he ripped off a 27-yard run in the fourth quarter. The senior finished with 169 yards on 27 attempts and raised his career total to 2,670 with five (possibly six) games remaining.
“Really and truly, I didn’t go into the game thinking about the record,” he said. “I came into the game trying to get a [win]. I’m very honored to break the record and … this win gives us a lot of confidence going into the rest of the season.”
Vanderbilt (3-4, 2-3 in the SEC) never trailed but committed the game’s only three turnovers (all fumbles) and gave the ball directly to Auburn (1-6, 0-5) three more times on failed fourth-down attempts.
Five plays after he set the record Stacy committed the final fumble. That gave Auburn the ball at its own 32 with 2:24 to play and a chance to win. The threat ended on a failed fourth-down pass with 52 seconds remaining, the Tigers’ only fourth-down attempt.
Conversely, Vanderbilt was successful twice on fourth down in a 16-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that lasted 8:25 to start the game and ended with a seven-yard Wesley Tate touchdown run.
The next three tries, beginning with a fake punt from its own 43 early in the second quarter failed. That produced the first fumble and led directly to Auburn’s first points, a field goal. The Tigers failed to convert either of the other takeaways into points.
“I do think you make progress when you don’t play your best and still find a way to win a game against an SEC opponent,” coach James Franklin said. “… We were aggressive early on with some fourth downs. We did it in the first quarter, we converted and we went down and scored. Everybody says it’s a great decision. We went for it later in the game and it doesn’t work out — bad decision, coach is an idiot. I’ll live with that.”