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No. 25 Kentucky beats Vanderbilt, still alive in SEC

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 Kentucky (No. 25 BCS, No. 24 AP) 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 Atlanta."

Kentucky needs plenty of help if it wants to win play for the SEC title.

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 seconds remaining.

"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 disappointing."

Kentucky gave Vanderbilt countless opportunities to become bowl eligible.

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 immediately announced.

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 score.

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."

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