Vanderbilt rallies to defeat UMass 34-31
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Ralph Webb scored on a 4-yard run with 1:08 remaining to give Vanderbilt a come-from-behind 34-31 win over Massachusetts on Saturday.
The winning score was set up on a 36-yard completion from Patton Robinette to C.J. Duncan.
Robinette, a sophomore, entered the game in the second quarter after true freshman Wade Freebeck started the game. Freebeck was the third different starting quarterback for Vanderbilt in its three games.
UMass (0-3) drove to the Vanderbilt 4-yard line only to have Blake Lucas miss a 22-yard field-goal attempt to the left with 2 seconds remaining.
Robinette scored on a 1-yard run at 10:02 of the second quarter to give Vanderbilt its first offensive touchdown of the season.
Vanderbilt (1-2) trailed by as many as 11 in the second half and scored 14 unanswered points in the final quarter to earn the win.
The victory is the Commodores’ first of the season and the first in the career of head coach Derek Mason.
Mason got the game ball right after the final horn and kept it in his arm as he shook hands with UMass head coach Mark Whipple and headed off field.
Freebeck played the entire first quarter and was 1 for 2 for 3 yards with an interception. He is the fourth quarterback to play for Vanderbilt this season.
Robinette started the first game of the season, a 37-7 loss home loss to Temple, while Stephen Rivers, a transfer from LSU and younger brother of San Diego Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers, started the second game. Vanderbilt lost that game 41-3 to Ole Miss to open the Southeastern Conference schedule for both teams at LP Field, the home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans.
UMass, which raced out to a 14-0 lead, scored on five of its first seven drives and that included a kneel-down by quarterback Blake Frohnapfel to end the first half.
Frohnapfel threw for 205 yards on 17-of-34 passing. He connected with Rodney Mills for a 13-yard TD to start the scoring for the Minutemen.
Frohnapfel wasn’t the only Minuteman to throw a touchdown pass to Mills. Brian McDonald threw a 53-yard pass to Mills on a fake punt for Massachusetts’ second score. McDonald is a former quarterback who played at Fitchburg (Massachusetts) State in 2011 before transferring to Morris (Minnesota) State to focus on punting in 2012. He is now in graduate school.
Robinette threw for 147 yards and a touchdown while connecting on 15 of 21 attempts.
It was apparent the Commodores wanted to focus on the running game due to the number of quarterbacks they’ve used so far this season. They rushed for 169 yards on 40 carries, led by Webb’s 119 on 26 attempts.
Massachusetts running back Lorenzo Woodley scored a career-high two touchdowns. He had a 2-yard scamper in the second quarter and another 2-yard run in the third quarter. He finished with 59 yards on 22 carries.
Vanderbilt defensive lineman/linebacker Caleb Azubike had two sacks and led the team, along with linebacker Nigel Bowden, with seven tackles.