EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) — Answers were short. Then again, what could Vanderbilt say after this one?
Two close losses two games into the season have left the Commodores searching for answers, if not words. They dropped another close one, this time losing to Northwestern on Saturday night after falling to South Carolina in the opener.
They watched as Venric Mark ran for 123 yards with a late touchdown and Tyler Scott forced a key fumble to lift the Wildcats to a 23-13 victory over Vanderbilt.
"It wasn't anything they were doing. We were beating ourselves," receiver Chris Boyd said. "They're a good team, but we beat ourselves tonight."
The defense did its job for most of the game, but linebacker Chase Garnham said, "They made plays at the right time."
Northwestern (2-0) didn't score a touchdown in the first three quarters but managed 17 points in the fourth to come away with another dramatic win after beating Syracuse 42-41 in the opener.
The Wildcats finally found the end zone when Mark ran it in from the 7 to give them a short-lived 13-10 lead with 9:28 left in the game. Vanderbilt's Zac Stacy then turned a short swing pass into a 55-yard gain that put the ball on the 14, but instead of a touchdown, the Commodores had to settle for a tying 26-yard field goal by Carey Spear.
Northwestern caught a break on the next drive when Trevor Siemian's 34-yard pass to Rashad Lawrence along the left sideline was ruled a completion even though he fumbled the ball as he went out of bounds.
The call was upheld after a lengthy review, putting the ball on the Vanderbilt 22, and Jeff Budzien kicked an 18-yarder with 2:01 remaining to break the tie.
"I didn't think he held onto it, to be honest with you," Siemian said.
But he also said Lawrence was confident it was a catch.
"He said he caught it," Siemian said. "He doesn't know how many steps he had, but he caught it. He said he didn't tuck it, but he said he thought he had it."
Vanderbilt coach James Franklin declined comment, saying, "I'm not allowed to talk about that."
Scott then forced a fumble when he sacked Jordan Rodgers on Vanderbilt's next play from scrimmage, and Dean Lowry recovered the ball. That led to a 29-yard TD run by Kain Colter, sending Vanderbilt (0-2) to another difficult loss.