Vanderbilt's defense once again saved the day Saturday.
The Commodores allowed just three points and 86 total yards in the second half to spark a 24-13 victory over Miami of Ohio at Vanderbilt Stadium.
It was the second straight strong second-half showing by Vandy’s defense, ranked No. 19 nationally. Last week, the Commodores blanked South Carolina in the second half en route to a 17-6 win.
In addition, VU recorded five sacks Saturday, pushing it into the lead in the Southeastern Conference in that category with 24.
“I love it,” Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson said. “I’m an old defensive coach. If you can do that consistently, that’s a plus for us. Our guys are taking a lot of pride in being a defense that’s tough to score on.”
The defensive effort helped the Commodores overcome four turnovers, including three in the second quarter.
”We’ve got a lot of athletes on that side of the ball,” VU wide receiver Earl Bennett said. “You’ve got players flying all around the ball on defense. We really appreciate them.”
Vanderbilt improved to 5-3 and one victory away from bowl eligibility. The Commodores have not played in the postseason since 1982. Miami fell to 4-5.
VU rushed for 290 yards Saturday, its most since Sept. 22, 2002. Tailback Cassen Jackson-Garrison led the way with 75 yards.
“For the most part we played toe-to-toe with a great Vanderbilt team,” Miami coach Shane Montgomery said. “They wore us down a little at the end, but we held our own for the most part.”
Bennett breaks SEC record
With a seven-yard reception in the first quarter Saturday against Miami of Ohio, Bennett became the all-time leading receiver in Southeastern Conference history.
Bennett's catch, his second of the day, gave him 209 for his career, passing former Kentucky receiver Craig Yeast for first place.
"I think it's pretty remarkable to pass that in two and a half years," Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson said. "He's been extremely consistent, works hard and has been a total team player. I'm happy for Earl. I'm glad to see his name at the top."
Bennett entered the game with 46 receptions this season, the second-highest in the Southeastern Conference. He is attempting to lead the league in catches for the third consecutive season.
"It means a lot," Bennett said. "I never thought I would be in this position."
Bennett finished the game Saturday with eight receptions for 85 yards.