The Bearcats fell behind 7-0 in the first quarter when Zac Stacy ended a 22-yard drive with a 7-yard rush. The short drive followed Zach Collaros' first interception of the game. Before that turnover the teams mostly just traded punts.
The Bearcats offense was sparked in the second quarter with a 69-yard George Winn rushing touchdown. Cincinnati added another touchdown in the second quarter after Vanderbilt turned the ball over on downs when their jump pass was incomplete. The Bearcats went 56 yards in 9 plays. Anthony McClung ended the drive with an 8-yard touchdown reception.
A sustained drive in the third quarter ended with a touchdown for Vanderbilt. The score was tied at 14 as the game moved into the fourth quarter. Cincinnati took the lead again with a field goal near the beginning of the fourth quarter. Vanderbilt answered quickly with a screen pass that went 68 yards for a touchdown. The Bearcats housed the ensuing kickoff to take the lead right back, 24-21.
The Bearcats got conservative and tried a field goal that was blocked with about 4 minutes to play. Vanderbilt turned the ball over via interception two plays later. Cincinnati went 31 yards in three plays to seal the victory with an Isaiah Pead rushing touchdown.
Pead rushed for 149 yards and a touchdown during the game and was named the Liberty Bowl MVP. Zach Collaros returned from the ankle injury that caused him to miss the end of the regular season. He was not back to full strength and only passed for 79 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. With 221 rush yards, the Bearcats joined Army as the only teams to rush for 200+ yards on Vanderbilt this season.
The Big East improved to 2-1 in bowl games this season with Cincinnati's win.
For more Cincinnati postgame coverage, visit Down The Drive. For more Vanderbilt postgame coverage, visit Anchor Of Gold. For more coverage of the Big East's bowl season, check out our bowl games section.