Vanderbilt's already-dim bowl hopes were squashed Saturday in a 31-17 loss to Wake Forest at Vanderbilt Stadium.
The Commodores, seeking bowl eligibility for the first time since 1982, finished the season 5-7, marking the school's 25th consecutive losing season. Vanderbilt was 5-3 on Oct. 27 but lost its final four games.
Wake Forest (8-4) capitalized on numerous Vanderbilt errors and bolted to a 31-3 lead in the third quarter.
"It's definitely a frustrating end," VU defensive tackle Theo Horrocks said. "We thought we could come out and win today. It was tough to bounce back when you're down 31-3. It's definitely disappointing. There was a lot to play for."
Vanderbilt's rushing attack produced only 16 yards on 28 carries. In addition, the Commodores committed a season-high five turnovers.
Forced to play from behind, Commodores coach Bobby Johnson inserted backup quarterback Richard Kovalcheck into the game in place of starter Mackenzi Adams. While Kovalcheck passed for 269 yards and two touchdowns, it was too little, too late.
"It's pretty obvious we just didn't play even close to good enough on offense to win today," Johnson said. "When we throw the ball 58 times, we're not going to be in very good shape. Wake Forest played great on defense and put us in situations where we didn't react very well."
Wide receiver George Smith led the Vanderbilt offense with a season-high seven receptions for 94 yards. Wake Forest quarterback Riley Skinner completed 21 of 31 passes for 146 yards and two touchdowns, while running back Josh Adams rushed for 111 yards and two scores.
Read Monday's edition of The City Paper for more on Saturday's game as well as a season analysis.
GOLD NUGGETS: With six catches Saturday, Vanderbilt receiver Earl Bennett became the first player in Southeastern Conference history to record at least 75 catches in each of his first three seasons. ...VU recorded three sacks and pushed its season total to 30, the highest for a Commodore squad in a season since 1984. ...Vanderbilt linebacker Jonathan Goff posted 13 tackles, his third straight game with 12 or more. He finished the season with a team-high 113. ...VU cornerback D.J. Moore snared his sixth interception of the season, tying for the fifth-highest single-season total in school history.