Sluggish Vanderbilt finally came alive in the second half, coasting to a 47-13 win over Alabama A&M at FirstBank Stadium in Nashville, Tenn,, on Saturday.
Vanderbilt quarterback AJ Swann accounted for three touchdowns, two to wide receiver Will Sheppard, while its defense held the Bulldogs to 278 yards and its special teams blocked a pair of punts.
Vanderbilt held a 12-3 lead after a lackluster first half.
But the Commodores went up-tempo to start the half and things started to turn around. Swann hit Sheppard for a 17-yard score with 12:18 left in the third quarter, making for a 19-3 lead.
Two plays later, A&M’s Xavier Langford found a wide-open Terrell Gardner for a 62-yard touchdown pass.
But Swann answered with a 1-yard sneak with 3:07 left in the third quarter.
Then, after the Bulldogs’ ensuing three-and-out, Sedrick Alexander (12 rushes, 87 yards, two TDs) made it 33-10 with a 17-yard scoring run, the first of his career.
After another stalled drive, Langston Patterson blocked a punt, giving the Commodores the ball at the A&M 20 and setting up another Alexander scoring run.
Alabama A&M took the opening kickoff and, with no play longer than 11 yards, marched 71 yards on 20 snaps in an 8:55 drive that culminated with Victor Barbosa’s 21-yard field goal.
Vandy answered with Jacob Borcilla’s 23-yard field goal on its first drive.
After the Bulldogs’ three-and-out, Vanderbilt’s Bryan Longwell blocked the ensuing punt through the end zone for a safety.
With 8:50 left in the half, Swann hit Sheppard with a 3-yard pass for the game’s first touchdown.
The Commodores played without starting right tackle Junior Uzebu and then lost starting safety De’Rickey Wright in the first quarter to an apparent leg injury. Wright picked off two passes in last week’s 35-28 win over Hawaii.
Vanderbilt travels to Wake Forest for its first road game of the season next Saturday, while Alabama A&M faces Lane in its first home game of 2023.
–Field Level Media