FORT COLLINS, Colo. (AP) — Joseph Bulovas knows the pressure that comes with kicking an important field goal at perennial title contender Alabama.
This one carried a lot of weight, too, for his Vandy teammates. To jumpstart a program starved for a long-time-in-the-making win.
The graduate transfer connected on a 38-yard field goal with 19 seconds remaining, Ken Seals accounted for three scores and Vanderbilt beat Colorado State 24-21 on Saturday night to snap an 11-game losing streak.
Seals drove the Commodores into field-goal range with help from a pass-interference penalty and a targeting call. Bulovas jumped up in excitement after making the kick, hugging his holder. His teammates soon joined in once the final horn sounded.
“The guys in the locker room sure deserve it,” said Bulovas, who converted 22 of 29 field goals while with Alabama from 2017-20. “They wrote the letter. I just sealed the envelope.”
Seals threw two TD passes and ran in another for the Commodores (1-1), who earned their first win under new coach Clark Lea. It was Vanderbilt’s first victory since knocking off East Tennessee State 38-0 on Nov. 23, 2019. The Commodores were coming off a loss to ETSU, an FCS team, last week.
“The belief on that sideline was the difference tonight. ... It has to do with Vanderbilt football discovering itself," Lea said.
Seals' short TD run in the third quarter gave the Commodores a 21-14 lead, but the Rams tied it with 3:07 remaining when Todd Centeio found a wide open Trey McBride on fourth-and-goal at the 3.
Both teams were in dire need of a confidence boost. Colorado State also lost last week to an FCS opponent (South Dakota State).
Trailing 14-7 in the first half and being statistically dominated, the Commodores steadily began to gain momentum by capitalizing on Colorado State’s miscues. The Rams (0-2) missed two field goals and threw an interception.
Asked if he's concerned about the locker room, Rams coach Steve Addazio responded: "It’s two games into a season. This is the problem in our world today. This is exactly what the problem is. People want to say, ‘Hey, do you feel sorry for yourself?’” I don’t feel sorry for myself. I’m not going to drop my head! There’s not a coach in this program that’s going to drop his head! It’s my job to make sure we just keep swinging away! Cause that’s all loser stuff and it’ll be my job to stay on top of that. Want to play big-time college football and you lose two games, and you want to talk about, you afraid you’re going to lose the locker room? No, I’m not afraid of losing the locker room.”
Seals finished with 238 yards passing and two TDs, one to Cam Johnson and another to Chris Pierce Jr. The sophomore QB celebrated with teammates and then high-fived the Vandy fans in the stands on his way through the tunnel.
“To have the first one out of the way, I think is special,” Seals said.
Colorado State's offense had everything going in the first half from a statistical standpoint, outgaining Vanderbilt by a 305-120 margin. But the Rams didn't exactly translate the yards discrepancy into points as they led just 14-7 at the break. Cayden Camper pushed a pair of field goals wide right and, just before halftime, McBride drew a costly unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that moved the Rams out of field goal range.
“When we went in at halftime I said to myself, ‘We had a chance to put this game away and we didn’t do it,’” Addazio said. “I was hoping it wouldn’t come back to haunt us."
Cornerback Jaylen Mahoney turned in a big defensive play for Vanderbilt in the third quarter when he picked off a Centeio pass near midfield. Nine plays later, Seals hit Johnson over the middle for a 9-yard score to tie the game at 14.
Usually decked out in green and gold, the Rams took the field in pumpkin orange jerseys and white pants. It’s part of “Ag Day,” a celebration that began in 1981 to honor the school’s agricultural roots when it was known as Colorado A&M and the sports teams were the Aggies.
Vanderbilt: Give the defense credit. The Commodores gave up loads of yards early but not many points until the offense started clicking.
Colorado State: All-Mountain West punter Ryan Stonehouse showed off his powerful foot with an 81-yard boot, which was the fourth-longest in team history.
Vanderbilt: Host Pac-12 foe Stanford on Saturday.
Colorado State: At Toledo on Saturday.
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