Tennessee State took the second play of the game 93 yards to get a 7-0 lead just over a minute in, and that set the tone for the game. The Tigers may only have 63 scholarships to give, but they weren’t going away quietly.
After Khari Blasingame scored to cap a 5-play, 73-yard drive for Vanderbilt and tie the game at 7, Tennessee State’s Patrick Smith caught his second touchdown pass of the night and the Tigers led 14-7 after the first quarter. A touchdown grab by Jared Pinkney to cap an 11-play, 92-yard drive tied the game at 14 before Lane Clark gave the Tigers a 17-14 lead. ESPN was so high on Clark that they put the “Field Goal Target” line at the 40-yard line (ten yards beyond where Openshaw’s is.)
Another Blasingame TD gave Vanderbilt a 21-17 lead going into the locker room, and Tennessee State wouldn’t even the score again. Still, it wasn’t until Trent Sherfield scored on an end around in the fourth quarter to cap a 12-play, 70-yard drive that took 6:19 off the clock that Vanderbilt could really feel comfortable about the outcome.
The Commodores had 501 yards of total offense on the game, 358 on the ground. Khari Blasingame was the difference, running for 100 yards on 14 carries and three touchdowns; Ralph Webb also gained 125 yards on 9 carries. Kyle Shurmur was fine, throwing for 143 yards on 15-for-23 passing with a touchdown. The other difference was turnovers: Vanderbilt didn’t have any, while Tennessee State had two.
The Commodores improved to 4-4 on the season with the win, the latest that they’ve been .500 for the season in the Derek Mason era. Tennessee State dropped to 5-2.