NASHVILLE, Tenn.----Senior Zac Stacy became Vanderbilt's all-time leading rusher as he gained 169 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries to lead Vanderbilt to a 17-13 victory over Auburn in Vanderbilt Stadium on Saturday.
Tre Mason led Auburn with 85 yards rushing and a touchdown on 16 carries while freshman Cassanova McKinzy had a career-high 12 tackles and his first career caused fumble and fumble recovery on separate plays along with a quarterback hurry. Demetruce McNeal also had 12 tackles for the Tigers and Jermaine Whitehead and Chris Davis each had nine. Clint Moseley was 14-of-20 for 98 yards as Auburn was outgained 382-212 in total offense.
"It's very simple," said Auburn head coach Gene Chizik. "We have to continue to go to work. This is a good football team, and you have to give Vanderbilt a lot of credit. The bottom line is we have to find these wins in the fourth quarter. We got some turnovers defensively, but we have to continue to do that. We have to close these games out at the end. (Our defense made a) very critical play there at the end, and the defense came up with the football. It is all about winning the fourth quarter and it is all about winning the game. It is disappointing that we haven't closed the door on it.
"I was proud of (Cassanova McKinzy) stepping up in his first game that he played a lot. There is no question that he is a guy who will improve week in and week out."
Vanderbilt (3-4, 2-3) took the opening kickoff and drove 75 yards in 16 plays to take a 7-0 lead on a 7-yard Wesley Tate touchdown run with 6:35 left. On the drive, the Commodores had two successful fourth down conversions.
Auburn (1-6, 0-5) recovered its second of three fumbles as Vanderbilt failed on a fake punt that was recovered by Ashton Richardson at the Commodore 36 yard line. On 3rd and goal from the 10, Clint Moseley threw behind a wide open Emory Blake in the end zone. Cody Parkey brought Auburn to within 7-3 on a 27-yard field goal with 8:10 left in the half.
The Tigers stopped the Commodores again on fourth down, this time with an inch to go from the Auburn 48 as McKinzy made a huge hit and tackle with just under four minutes to go in the half. The key play of Auburn's scoring drive came as Moseley threw a 24-yard strike to Blake on play action to the Vandy 6.
Onterio McCalebb rushed it to the 1, and Tre Mason punched it in despite a shaky handoff to give Auburn its first lead of the game at 10-7 with 1:21 before halftime. Vanderbilt quickly drove 65 yards in 11 plays as Carey Spear kicked a 30-yard field goal to tie the game 10-10 on the last play of the half. The Commodores stopped the Tigers on the opening possession of the third quarter and scored on its second consecutive drive to take a 17-10 lead on Stacy's 2-yard run with 7:34 on the clock. Vanderbilt drove 85 yards in 7 plays in only 2:56.
Auburn had the beginnings of another good drive as Mason had a career-long 34-yard rush on a nice block by Patrick Miller to the Vanderbilt 40, but a pair of false start penalties and a 10-yard third down sack pushed Auburn back to its own 40. The Tigers punted the ball to the Commodores with less than a minute to go in the third.
The Tigers' defense forced the Commodores into their second-straight three-and-out after the Vanderbilt touchdown, and Auburn took over on its own 49 with 14:01 left in the game. Parkey nailed his second field goal of the day, a 39-yarder, to make it a 17-13 Vanderbilt lead with 9:55 remaining. Vanderbilt responded as Jordan Rodgers completed a 37-yard pass to a wide open Chris Boyd to the Auburn 38.
The Commodores went for it on fourth down for the fifth time, needing three yards this time from the Auburn 31, and Gabe Wright tackled Stacy for a 7-yard loss. The Tigers took over on their own 38 with seven minutes left as they stopped Vanderbilt for the third time on fourth down. Auburn had it 2nd and 2 from its own 45, but Mason had a rush for no gain and McCalebb lost two yards running sideways.
The Commodores took over on their own 19 with 4:41 remaining. On the first play, Stacy, a native of Centreville, Ala., and Bibb County High School alum, rushed it for 27 yards from the wildcat position to the Vanderbilt 41 to become Vanderbilt's all-time leading rusher with 2,647 yards. Stacy fumbled after a huge hit by McNeal and a forced fumble by McKinzy that was recovered by Corey Lemonier at the Auburn 32 with 2:24 remaining.
On 3rd and 2, Moseley completed an 18-yard pass to tight end C.J. Uzomah to the Vanderbilt 41 with 1:44 to go. Moseley was sacked on second down and Auburn's comeback threat was ended.
Auburn plays its first home game in three weeks against Texas A&M in Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday at 6 pm CT on ESPNU.