Monday, September 6, 2010

Vandy-Northwestern recap: 5 bad plays, 5 good plays

Here are five key plays from Vandy's loss to Northwestern, not counting the ridiculous personal foul call against Jay Fullam that ended the game. Take any of them away and we could have had a different outcome:

WILSON'S FUMBLE: After Northwestern took a 3-0 lead in the first quarter, the Wildcats kicked away from Eric Samuels, who'd opened the game with a 44-yard return, and instead booted the ball to sophomore Trey Wilson, who dropped the ball, picked it up and was tackled on the 7-yard line. The mistake put the Dores in a big hole and eventually led to a Northwestern touchdown and a 10-0 lead.

FOWLER'S MISSED PAT: Late in the second quarter, Ryan Fowler missed an extra point. If he'd made it, Vandy would have been tied at halftime and would likely never had gone for two. Instead, Vandy spent the entire game trying to get the missed point back and finished with 21 points instead of 24.

LARRY'S INTERCEPTION: Trailing 10-9 in the third quarter, Vandy was finding its rhythm on offense until Larry Smith threw high to Brandon Barden and was picked off. Northwestern launched a scoring drive and took a 17-9 lead.

CASEY'S WHIFF: After Larry's interception, Northwestern faced a third and long. Dan Persa launched a pass and it appeared that Casey Hayward had a bead on it but it went through his hands and into the arms of a Wildcat receiver for an 18-yard gain and a first down. Northwestern would score a few plays later.

CATS RECOVER: With 2:10 remaining in the game and Northwestern attempting to run out the clock, the Cats fumbled the football but recovered it back. On the next play, on third down, Fullam stopped Persa short of a first down but was called for the personal foul.

But here are five plays that kept us in the game:

FUGGER'S SACK: We knew Tim Fugger was fast, but with 4:22 remaining in the first half and NW QB Dan Persa appearing ready to squirt away once again, Fugger turned on the jets and ran down Persa, stripping the ball from him. John Stokes recovered and Vandy would suddenly discover its offense and move the ball without a punt for the remainder of the game.

WIMBERLY'S CATCH: Right after Stokes' recovery, Larry Smith fired a 37-yard pass to Turner Wimberly, who was wide open down the middle. It was a huge play for Wimberly, who struggled to get open and was replaced by Jonathan Krause down the stretch.

THE GAMBLE: With Vandy trailing in the third quarter and facing fourth and two, Coach Caldwell elected to go for it, and Warren Norman broke free for an 11-yard run.

T.J.'S BLOCK: With Vandy down by eight points late in the fourth quarter, T.J. Greenstone's block of a Northwestern PAT kept the Commodores alive.

KRAUSE'S CATCH: With the other Vandy receivers struggling to separate from DBs, freshman Jonathan Krause worked one-on-one against a veteran corner in the third quarter, grabbing a pass and motoring 24 yards. A few plays later, Larry Smith fired a long TD to Brandon Barden.

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