EditorsNote: Fixes Ryley in 11th graf; tweaks 1st and 4th
Vanderbilt quarterback Kyle Shurmur set a school record for completion percentage, hitting 31 of 35 passes for 367 yards and three touchdowns to lead the host Commodores to a 38-13 win over Tennessee in Nashville on Saturday afternoon.
Shurmur completed his first 15 throws, helping Vanderbilt to its third straight win in the series, coming against three different Volunteers coaches, and also to bowl eligibility.
It marks Vandy’s longest win streak in the series since the Commodores won six in a row from 1920-26. It was also Vanderbilt’s most lopsided win in the series since a 26-0 victory in 1954.
With Tennessee (5-7, 2-6 SEC) trailing 17-0, Volunteers running back Ty Chandler, playing in his hometown, dashed 75 yards untouched down the sideline on the first play of the second half, with kicker Brett Cimaglia’s PAT closing the gap to 10.
But that was about it for the Vols. The Commodores, who put the Vols in third-and-long situations all day, held UT to 242 yards and 12 first downs.
Vandy (6-6, 3-5) landed the knockout punch early in the fourth quarter on a three-play drive thanks to two acrobatic, contested catches. One play after getting the ball at the Vols 48 off a punt, Kalija Lipscomb came up with a 23-yard catch along the right sideline. Shurmur then threw a perfect ball to freshman receiver Amir Abdur-Rahman for a diving 26-yard touchdown catch just into the end zone.
Running back Khari Blasingame’s 1-yard run on the next drive provided a 31-7 lead.
Vanderbilt struck first, when Shurmur found tight end Jared Pinkney with a perfect throw in one-on-one coverage near the front left pylon, a 17-yard scoring toss with 1:38 left in the first quarter that capped an 11-play, 84-yard drive.
After UT’s three-and-out, Lipscomb took an end around for a 2-yard rushing score early in the second quarter.
Even when it went wrong for Vanderbilt in the first half, things seemed to work out.
Shurmur and Blasingame nearly combined to muff a handoff, but Shurmur turned and scampered 9 yards to the Vols 40 to pick up a first down. On a fourth-and-1 at the Vols 31, Tennessee appeared to stop Blasingame, but he wiggled through for 3 yards instead. Four plays later, Ryley Guay converted a 43-yard field goal with 51 seconds left in the half for a 17-0 lead.
Vanderbilt running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn went to the locker room early in the second quarter, just after passing 1,000 yards rushing for the season. He took multiple shots to the head and departed with left arm and shoulder issues.
Tennessee offensive lineman Jahmir Johnson was ejected for targeting with 14 seconds left in the first half after quarterback Jarrett Guarantano’s interception.
—Field Level Media