By ANTONIO GONZALEZ
Associated Press Writer
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Kentucky is likely headed to a bigger
bowl game than last year.
The Wildcats are thinking bigger still.
Andre Woodson threw for 222 yards, Rafael Little had 70 yards
rushing before being injured and No. 24 Kentucky beat Vanderbilt
27-20 on Saturday to keep alive its slim hopes of a berth in the
Southeastern Conference title game.
"This win puts us in the chase," running back Derrick Locke
said. "We can still get to a really good bowl. We can still get to
Kentucky needs plenty of help if it wants to win play for the
The Wildcats (7-3, 3-3 SEC) close their season against SEC East
rivals Tennessee and Georgia, and have a chance to sneak into the
league title game in Atlanta by defeating both. A South Carolina
win over Florida later on Saturday would also be a big help.
"The real key for us whether we win next week or don't win next
week, if we're going to have a chance, the ball coach is going to
have to do something for us," Kentucky coach Rich Brooks said,
referring to South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier. "We can end up
tied for it, but it would be tough."
The Wildcats snapped their two-game losing skid and clinched
consecutive seven-win seasons for the first time since 1976-77.
Kentucky beat Clemson 28-20 in the Music City Bowl last year.
For the Commodores (5-5, 2-5), their hopes of becoming bowl
eligible will have to wait a little longer. Vanderbilt hasn't been
to a bowl since the 1982 Hall of Fame Bowl.
The Commodores had eight penalties for 65 yards, and Byrant
Hahnfeldt missed two field goals and an extra point for Vanderbilt.
Mackenzi Adams threw for 193 yards and two touchdowns for the
Commodores, but sailed his final throw on fourth down over the head
of Justin Wheeler in the end zone. Adams was sacked on second down
by Jeremy Jarmon, and Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson chose to have
Adams spike the ball instead of using its final timeout with 17
"We knew what the time was and we were using it just the way we
wanted to use it," Johnson said. "If we were going to score, we
didn't want Kentucky to have a chance to get the ball back. I think
it was good clock management by MacKenzi.
"We were making some big plays. We made some fourth-down plays.
The sack discouraged me. I was actually watching the receivers
trying to get open and I didn't see the sack. That was
Kentucky gave Vanderbilt countless opportunities to become bowl
The Wildcats had a season-high 13 penalties for 123 yards,
including a holding call that wiped out a 52-yard reception by
Keenan Burton. But Vanderbilt couldn't close out drives.
"Everything looked like it was going pretty good," Vanderbilt
defensive end Curtis Gatewood said. "At the end of the game, we
had some breakdowns. It's so frustrating."
Earl Bennett had eight catches for 68 yards, and Cassen
Jackson-Garrison had 83 yards rushing for the Commodores.
The game was sloppy and marred by penalties and injuries.
Vanderbilt running back Jared Hawkins was carted off the field
in the third quarter after suffering a blow to the head on a
late-hit penalty by Wildcats safety Ashton Cobb. Hawkins was able
to walk onto the cart after about five minutes. His status was not
Kentucky running back Rafael Little was injured on the opening
drive of the second half. Locke had 51 yards rushing in his place,
including a 4-yard touchdown rush that would serve as the winning
A 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty on Vanderbilt's Broderick
Stewart in the final seconds of the first half allowed Lones Seiber
to make a 48-yard field goal that tied the game 13-13. Seiber also
kicked a 38-yarder.
Adams threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to give Vanderbilt a 7-3
lead, as Brooks raced down the sidelines trying to call a timeout.
Brooks pleaded with officials after the play that the timeout
should have been called, drawing a 15-yard personal foul penalty.
"They were trying to get to six wins, we were trying to get to
seven," Cobb said. "There was a lot of emotions out there. There
were bowl games being fought for."