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Vandy edges Wake for 8th win

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Carey Spear kicked a 38-yard field goal with 39 seconds left, and Vanderbilt rallied to beat Wake Forest 23-21 Saturday as the Commodores finished with their second straight 8-4 season.

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The Commodores now have posted consecutive eight-win seasons for the first time since 1927 and 1928 and can only hope their sluggish performance didn't hurt their chances for a bowl game outside of Tennessee. They turned it over twice, and Spear kicked two of his three field goals in the fourth quarter to give them their ninth straight win in November.

Wake Forest (4-8) lost its fifth straight.

Vanderbilt struggled coming off a big win over in-state rival Tennessee. Jordan Matthews set another Southeastern Conference mark as the league's first receiver to top 100 catches.

His biggest came on the game-winning drive on fourth-and-11 as he hauled in a 25-yarder between two defenders.

Wake Forest had one last chance for the win, but defensive end Walker May sacked Tanner Price setting up the final play. Price threw deep to Tyree Harris, a pass broken up by Vanderbilt safety Kenny Ladler to seal the win.

Vanderbilt held the ball for more than 38 minutes and outgained Wake Forest 403-266 in total offense. The Commodores also led 17-14 at halftime.

Nikita Whitlock tipped a pass by Austyn Carta-Samuels, and Justin Jackson grabbed the ball and returned it 63 yards for a touchdown giving Wake Forest its first lead of the game at 21-17 with 6:10 left in the third quarter.

Vanderbilt finally put together its best drive in the fourth quarter, holding the ball more than 7 minutes. But the Commodores had to settle for a 25-yard field goal by Spear that pulled them within 21-20 with 6:58 to go. Chase Garnham intercepted a Tanner Price pass three plays later and returned it to the Wake Forest 33 with 6:00 left.

Mike Olson stripped Vanderbilt senior Wesley Tate of the ball, and safety Anthony Wooding Jr. recovered for Wake Forest. Vanderbilt lost only two fumbles through the first 10 games and now has lost four the two.

Vanderbilt needed Matthews' leaping grab to keep the game-winning drive alive, even as he was being held by a defender. The Commodores sent out their preseason All-SEC kicker for the win four plays later.

Matthews finished with 11 catches for 125 yards, giving him 107 receptions this season. He got the record on his second catch of the game, a 41-yarder, giving him 98 receptions and a single-season record in the league. He topped the 97 receptions by Keith Edwards had for Vanderbilt in 1983.

The Commodores switched back and forth between Carta-Samuels and Robinette. Carta-Samuels capped the opening drive with a 7-yard TD pass to Fitz Lassing, and Robinette also ran for an 8-yard TD himself.

The Demon Deacons tried to take advantage of Vanderbilt being without cornerback Andre Hal with Ladler suspended for the first half after being ejected from last week's win at Tennessee for targeting.

They took lots of shots downfield but had trouble connecting. Price ran for a 3-yard touchdown in the first quarter to tie the school record with his 65th career TD, a mark also held by Riley Skinner. Dominique Gibson also had a 9-yard TD run for Wake Forest.

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
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