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Commodores beat Vols, notch first SEC win of season

18 days ago
Associated Press

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Kyle Shurmur threw four touchdown passes and Ralph Webb rushed for 163 yards Saturday as Vanderbilt defeated Tennessee 42-24 to continue its recent run of success in this rivalry.

Vanderbilt (5-7, 1-7 SEC) has beaten Tennessee (4-8, 0-8) four of the last six years after going 1-28 against the Volunteers from 1983-2011. The Commodores are enjoying the most success they've had in this series since winning six straight over Tennessee from 1920-26.

"It's something special," Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason said. "These guys will talk about it when they're old men."

After opening the year in the Top 25, Tennessee ended up with its first eight-loss season in school history. The Vols also went winless in SEC competition for the first time since the league's formation in 1933.

"I thought we had a lot of momentum going into the season," Tennessee linebacker Colton Jumper said. "Things were looking really good, and then obviously it's not the way we wanted it to turn out. But looking on to next year, a lot of talent, a whole lot of talent here. This place is something special, so you're not going to see Tennessee down for too long."

Shurmur went 20 of 31 for 283 yards and threw two touchdown passes to Trent Sherfield and one each to Kalija Lipscomb and C.J. Duncan.

Webb had touchdown runs of 2 and 20 yards to increase his career total to 32, breaking Vanderbilt's career record. Zac Stacy ran for 30 career touchdowns at Vanderbilt from 2009-12.

In what was likely his final game at Vanderbilt, Webb's big day gave him 4,173 career yards rushing to move into sixth place on the SEC's all-time list. Webb began the weekend in ninth place but overtook Florida's Errict Rhett (4,163 yards from 1989-93), LSU's Dalton Hilliard (4,050, 1982-85) and LSU's Charles Alexander (4,035, 1975-78) on Saturday.

"We finished the way we wanted to finish," Mason said.

Vanderbilt scored touchdowns on its first three possessions to take a 21-14 halftime lead.

The Vols cut the lead to 21-17 late in the third quarter on Aaron Medley's career-long, 49-yard field goal, as Vanderbilt lost the ball in downs in Tennessee territory on each of its first two second-half possessions.

But the Commodores responded with 21 straight points to put the game away.

"What changed is they made some plays that we've got to defend a little better," Tennessee interim head coach Brady Hoke said. "I don't think we tackled as well, and the integrity of some gaps inside hurt us a little bit. That's all part of it. (They were) 11 of 15 on third down. That's not very good defensive football."

Tennessee's Jarrett Guarantano went 14 of 22 for 183 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, while Brandon Johnson had six catches for 107 yards.

BIG PICTURE

Vanderbilt: Shurmur saves his best performances for the Commodores' biggest rival. He threw for 416 yards last year in a 45-34 victory over Tennessee that likely cost the Vols a Sugar Bowl berth. Shurmur was just about equally effective in Saturday's rematch. Shurmur's father, Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, was watching from the stands.

Tennessee: The run defense that has struggled throughout the last two seasons was gashed again Saturday as Vanderbilt ran for 246 yards and gained 5.7 yards per carry. The Commodores entered the night averaging just 3.4 yards per rush. Tennessee's offense scored touchdowns on its first two drives but finished with just 24 points against a Vanderbilt defense that had allowed at least 34 points in each of its first seven SEC games.

The Vols ran 21 times for just 55 yards against a Vanderbilt defense that had been allowing 5.1 yards per carry.

UP NEXT

Vanderbilt carries plenty of momentum into next season after beating Tennessee for a second straight time.

Tennessee chooses its next coach.