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November 26, 2011Vanderbilt needed a win to get bowl-eligible, and did it in style on Saturday.
The Commodores trailed only for about half of the second quarter, but recovered to hammer Wake Forest 41-7 in the final regular-season game for both teams behind Zac Stacy's three touchdown runs and touchdown passes from Jordan Rodgers and Larry Smith.
VU (6-6) will await the results of other games before it knows its destination, but will be going to a bowl for only the fifth time in its 121 years of football.
Things broke well early for the Commodores. VU defensive end Tim Fugger forced a Brandon Pendergrass fumble that Walker May recovered less than a minute into the game, and Ryan Fowler split the uprights with a 33-yard field goal to give the Commodores a 3-0 lead with 8:40 left in the first quarter.
On VU's next drive, Fowler added a 30-yard field goal to put VU up 6-0.
But Wake's Tanner Price escaped pressure on a third-and-goal from the 10, firing a dart to Terence Davis to tie the game before the extra point put Wake ahead.
Vandy answered on its next drive when Stacy, who went over 1,000 yards for the season on the drive, scored on a 1-yard run.
After a Wake punt, Rodgers hit a wide-open Brandon Barden on the next snap. Barden broke untouched across midfield, leapt one defender near the left sideline, and stiff-armed another on the way to the end zone for a 73-yard score on the next snap, putting Vandy up 20-7.
On a third-and-10 play from the Wake 20, Stacy rumbled right and broke tackles into the end zone with under a minute left before the break to put the Commodores up 27-7.
The Commodores kept their foot on the gas in the third quarter when Rodgers threw a backwards pass to his backup Smith, who was in at receiver. Smith threw a long strike to Jordan Matthews for a 45-yard touchdown to push the score to 34-7.
Stacy added a 40-yard touchdown run with 9:04 left, surpassing Corey Harris for the top spot on VU's all-time rushing list on the play.