Vanderbilt vaults past Middle Tennessee 47-24

Vanderbilt regrouped in dramatic fashion after the disappointing loss in week 1 to South Carolina. The Commodores improved to 1-1 after a resounding, 47-24 victory over the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders.

Vanderbilt scored first when Tommy Openshaw connected on a 32-yard field goal with 11:15 remaining in the first quarter. That score was set up by the Vandy defense when  Zach Cunningham forced a fumble which was recovered by safety LaDarius Wiley who then returned the ball 55 yards to the Middle 13.   

Middle knotted the score at three when Canon Rucker’s made 39-yard field goal against the wind. After the Commodores’ ensuing drive stalled, Ralph Webb forced a fumble on an MTSU punt return and the ball went out of the back of the end zone to score a Vandy safety and make it a baseball like score of 5-3 with Vanderbilt leading with 7:15 left in the first quarter.

MTSU answered the Commodores’ score again with Stockstill’s 1-yard pass to Richie James that put the Blue Raiders up 10-5 with 2:41 left in the opening quarter.  Early in the second quarter Oren Burks intercepted a Stockstill pass and returned the ball to the MTSU 7-yard line.

Blasingame rumbled into the end zone to score his second touchdown of the season and put Vandy up 12-10 just 3 seconds into the second quarter.  After Webb leaped over a would-be Middle tackler on second down for a 6-yard gain, on the next play the junior running back dove virtually untouched into the end zone to put his team up 19-10 with 10:42 to go in the half.  

About midway through the second quarter Vanderbilt officials announced to the crowd of about 28,000 that a severe storm was approaching.  Dark clouds soon approached the facility as wind speeds increased and, finally, lightning was detected in the area.  Commodore officials then announced the game was in a weather delay with 5:40 left in the first half. Derek Mason spoke about the delay after the game.

"When we got into the locker room [during the delay], we turned the lights off," said Mason. "I told them to close their eyes and calm down. This group understands a lot about resiliency. We were committed to staying focused... Let your energy flow from one guy to the other."

Vanderbilt and Middle resumed play after approximately 1 1/2 hours.   Vanderbilt planned to punt on the first play of the renewed game but Sam Loy's punt was blocked by Middle Tennessee and recovered at the Vandy 11 and returned to the Vandy 4.  The Blue Raiders needed just three plays to score on a pass from Stockstill to Ty Lee which narrowed the Vandy lead to 19-17 with  and groans could be heard throughout Vanderbilt Stadium as memories of last week's game with South Carolina were still fresh in Commodore fan's minds. .   However, the Commodores would answer the Blue Raider score on their next drive.  Webb's 3-yard touchdown run put the Commodores back up by nine at 26-17.  

After Vandy's defense held Middle to a 3-and-out possession following Vandy's score, Kyle Shurmur led the Commodores on a seven play, 63-yard drive.  Shurmur connected with Lipscomb from 16 yards to extend the Vandy advantage to 33-17 with 1:05 left in the half.  

Vandy and Middle then headed back to their respective locker rooms for half time.   The Commodores would outscore the Blue Raiders 14-7 in the second half with Dallas Rivers and Blasingame both scoring touchdowns. 

While the Commodores were only four of 12 on third down conversions, Vandy was able to convert on all seven of its red zone opportunities (6 TDs, 1FG)

Vanderbilt improves to 1-1 with the win.  The Commodores have now won two straight in their series with MTSU.  Vandy will next visit ACC opponent Georgia Tech on Saturday.  MTSU falls to 1-1 and will travel to Bowling Green on Saturday. 

 


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