Vanderbilt blanks East Tennessee State in home finale
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Ke’Shawn Vaughn rushed for 139 yards and two touchdowns as Vanderbilt ended a three-game losing streak with a 38-0 win over East Tennessee State in its home finale on Saturday.
The redshirt senior from nearby Pearl-Cohn High School in Nashville moved into sixth place in career yards at Vanderbilt with over 2,100.
“We had some opportunities to get the ball to our playmakers and that’s what you want to see from this football team,” Commodores coach Derek Mason said. “We just need to continue to build off this one. I think we still need to be better in some areas.”
The Buccaneers ended their season with their first shutout loss since 2016.
“Vandy, they just came out and they really challenged us to be able to move the ball running it and they challenged us to make plays through the air,” Holmes said. “They were definitely loading the box, playing up from what I saw and bringing a lot of people to the show when it came to running the ball.”
The Commodores (3-8) held the Buccaneers (3-9) to 105 yards in total offense.
Vanderbilt’s defense recorded season-highs for sacks (six) and tackles for loss (12).
“Vanderbilt is bigger, stronger and faster than what we see week-in, week-out,” ETSU coach Randy Sanders said. “They knew if hey could stop us from running the ball, quarterback and wide receivers weren’t our strengths right now. I thought they tried to load the box a little bit the first half, but I think they figured out they didn’t necessarily have to and then they sat back and made sure they didn’t give up any big plays easy.”
Riley Neal passed for 179 yards and two touchdowns for the Commodores.
Vanderbilt tight end Jared Pinkney made his first two TD receptions of the season, including a 7-yard reception in the end zone that stretched the Commodores lead to 31-0 with 3:11 left in the third quarter.
The Commodores won their ninth straight against an opponent from Tennessee and improved to 35-6 against Southern Conference teams.
Vaughn increased the Commodores’ lead to 21-0 with a 75-yard run, his longest of the season, down the left side on the first play of the second half.
“Halftime, we talked about they flow heavy to the ball, so we knew there would be a cut-up somewhere,” Vaughn said. “So we run outside zone, so we could cut, take it and run 75 yards.”
The Commodores took a 14-0 halftime lead on a 32-yard touchdown pass from Neal to Pinkney in the first quarter and Vaughn’s 2-yard TD run in the second quarter.
East Tennessee State: The Buccaneers never got anything going offensively, managing just 37 running yards against one of FBS’ worst rush defenses.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores’ struggling offense finally showed some life after scoring only two TDs in the previous three games.
East Tennessee State: Three Buccaneers will compete in the FCS Bowl on Dec. 8.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores visit Tennessee in their finale Saturday. Vandy has wins in three straight and five of the last seven in the series.