One week after allowing UMass hang around until the fourth quarter, Vanderbilt finally got a confidence-building win when they defeated Alabama-Birmingham 52-24 on Saturday night.
The Commodores didn't come out like a house on fire, but they did score on their second possession to put the Blazers on their heels and send out a notice to any fans who had doubted them after a lackluster win over Massachusetts. Jerron Seymour broke out for a 58-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter - his second of the day - to break open a 10-6 game and show that Vanderbilt belongs in a different tier than their Conference USA opponents.
Austyn Carta-Samuels had 334 yards through the air to become the first Vanderbilt quarterback since Jay Cutler to post a pair of 300-yard passing games in the same season. Jordan Matthews had eight receptions for 115 yards and a touchdown, and Jerron Seymour led the team's rushing attack with 107 yards on the ground in the rout.
The Commodore defense limited the Blazers despite playing without their two best linebackers. Seniors Chase Garnham and Karl Butler both missed the contest due to leg injuries, but players like Larry Franklin and Jake Sealand were able to fill in and hold a tough UAB team to nine points in the first three quarters. The 'Dores had a pair of interceptions in the game.
Vandy went up big early in what appeared to be a pointed effort to erase some of the problems that haunted this team last week against UMass. After Seymour gave this team a 17-6 lead early, the 'Dores put together three drives that spanned at least 68 yards apiece to make it a 38-9 game early in the fourth quarter and give the fans in attendance something to smile about. Aside from a week two beating of FCS foe Austin Peay, Commodore fans have had little room for relief in the second half so far this season.
UAB threatened with a touchdown and two-point conversion to give the Blazers' hope, but it was short-lived. Jordan Matthews hauled in his 21st career touchdown pass off of a Carta-Samuels sidearm flick to give the 'Dores a 28-point cushion with 10 minutes to play. The scoring reception tied Dan Stricker's Vanderbilt record for more career touchdown receptions. A few minutes later, redshirt freshman Patton Robinette scored his first NCAA touchdown on an eight-yard scramble to cap the Vanderbilt scoring at 52 points.
The win improves Vanderbilt to 3-2 on the season, while UAB fell to 1-3 overall. The 'Dores will look for their first SEC win of the season next week when they face Missouri at home on Saturday night.