Defense, Adams lead Vandy to 5-0

The Vanderbilt Commodores are 5-0 for the first time in over 20 years. 5-0. Just let that sink in for a minute. Vandy defeated the Auburn Tigers 14-13 in Nashville Saturday night with defense as special teams just as they have been doing all season.

The Tigers came out of the gate strong marching 52 yards on their first six plays of the game to the Vanderbilt 4 yard line. That is when the defense stepped up their game. Auburn running back Ben Tate carried the ball 4 times from the 4 yard line but was stuffed on 4th and goal from the 1.

After the Commodores' offense was unable to anything on the ensuing drive, the Tigers' offense marched 49 yards in 9 plays for a touchdown pass from Chris Todd to Rod Smith to give them an early 7-0 lead.

Auburn would get a short field for their next possession after Chris Nickson was intercepted by Jerraud Powers at the Vandy 27 yard line. The Tigers would waste no time capitalizing on that turnover with a 28 yard touchdown pass from Todd to Mario Fannin. One of the biggest plays of the game followed that touchdown when Auburn kicker Wes Byrum missed the extra point.

That was pretty much all the Auburn offense would accomplish on the night. Tate finished the game with 118 yards rushing. That totals does not look great for the Dores' defense until you consider the fact that he had 61 of those yards in the first quarter. The defense made all of the necessary adjustments to completely shut the Auburn offense down for the final three quarters of the game.

The hero of the night for Vanderbilt was back-up quarterback Mackenzi Adams. Starting quarterback Chris Nickson, who injured his shoulder in the Ole Miss game, would have to take himself out of the game in the second quarter after re-aggravating that shoulder injury. Adams said he was well prepared in case he was needed, "I've been prepared to start the entire time and am ready to go. We split reps throughout practice this week and he looked good. It's a good feeling to help the team and get the win."

Adams would lead the Black and Gold to their first touchdown right before the end of the first half when he found Justin Wheeler in the end zone for a 15 yard score. That drive was set up by a 25 yard punt return from D.J. Moore. That score shifted the momentum to the Commodores heading into the break.

Vanderbilt's second and final touchdown of the night came early in the 3rd quarter on a 1 yard pass from Adams to Brandon Barden. On that 8 play, 68 yard drive Adams had 15 yards rushing and 53 yards passing.

The game was put away when Myron Lewis intercepted Todd with just over two minutes left to go in the game. This Vanderbilt team has been excellent at protecting a lead and closing out ball games, which are two things thing that Vandy teams have been notorious for not being able to do in the past.

One of the unsung heroes of the night was Commodores' punter Brett Upson. Upson punted the ball 8 times and averaged 39.1 yards per punt. Four of his punts were downed inside the 20 yard line which kept the Tigers' from having easy scoring opportunites.

This is a huge win for the Vanderbilt program. They have gotten national exposure like never before over the past week. They deserve to enjoy this win, but not for too long as they will have to be ready to play next week when they travel to Starkville to take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs.


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