Tennessee wide receiver Cedric Tillman (4) gets his hands on the ball but it falls incomplete in the NCAA college football game between the Tennesse Volunteers and Vanderbilt Commodores in Knoxville, Tenn. on Saturday, November 27, 2021.

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Hendon Hooker propels Tennessee past Vanderbilt with big-play attack

Hendon Hooker threw for two touchdowns before leaving with a left hand injury Saturday as Tennessee closed its regular season with a 45-21 win over Vanderbilt in Knoxville, Tenn.

Hooker completed 10 of 18 passes for 156 yards as the Volunteers (7-5, 4-4 Southeastern Conference) beat their in-state rivals for the third straight year. Tennessee now waits to see what bowl game it will get invited to, making coach Josh Heupel’s first season a big success.

Mike Wright hit on 16 of 31 passes for 198 yards with a touchdown and an interception for the Commodores (2-10, 0-8), which have now lost 21 consecutive SEC games, dating back to 2019.

Wright’s one big mistake put Vanderbilt down 7-0 less than three minutes into the game. He tossed an interception that Theo Jackson returned 55 yards for a touchdown.

After the Commodores controlled the ball for most of the first quarter, the Volunteers took over in the second quarter, cranking up their high-powered attack. Jabari Small’s 6-yard scoring run with 9:05 left in the half upped the margin to 14-0 and Hooker made it 21-0 less than five minutes later on a 24-yard touchdown pass to Cedric Tillman.

Chase McGrath connected on a 31-yard field goal in the last minute, but Wright got Vanderbilt on the board with a Hail Mary pass of 56 yards to Will Sheppard, drawing it within 24-7 at halftime.

The Commodores’ momentum lasted all of 33 seconds. On the second play of the third quarter, Hooker and Tillman hooked up for a 46-yard touchdown pass that increased the lead to 31-7.

Rocko Griffin scored on a 13-yard touchdown run for Vanderbilt at the 6:28 mark of the third, but Tennessee answered back 76 seconds later with Small’s second touchdown run, an 11-yarder.

Each team added a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Wright scored on a 4-yard run with 9:17 remaining for the Commodores and Jaylen Wright countered for the Volunteers with a 10-yard run at the 3:12 mark.

–Field Level Media

Oct 16, 2021; Columbia, South Carolina, USA; Vanderbilt Commodores cornerback Jaylen Mahoney (23) tackles South Carolina Gamecocks wide receiver Dakereon Joyner (5) at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports

South Carolina rallies late to upend Vanderbilt

Quarterback Zeb Noland came off the bench late and hit Xavier Legette on a 9-yard touchdown pass with 37 seconds remaining to lift South Carolina to a 21-20 Southeastern Conference victory against Vanderbilt on Saturday at Columbia, S.C.

Noland replaced Luke Doty with 1:36 remaining and was 5-of-8 passing for 75 yards on the decisive final drive to help the Gamecocks (4-3, 1-3 SEC) snap a nine-game SEC losing streak.

The Commodores (2-5, 0-3) lost their 16th consecutive SEC game.

Vanderbilt QB Mike Wright, making his first career start in place of injured Ken Seals (hand), hit Will Sheppard 52-yard catch-and-run touchdown late in the third quarter. South Carolina’s Darius Rush failed to tackle Sheppard, who ran down the sideline for a 17-14 led with 5:17 remaining in the quarter.

Vanderbilt’s Joseph Bulovas added a 28-yard field goal for a 20-14 lead with 1:36 remaining in advance of Noland’s heroics.

Wright was 11-of-21 passing for 206 yards, one TD and one interception. He also ran 15 times for 41 yards.

Doty was 17-of-26 passing for 242 yards and two TDs for the Gamecocks, who had four turnovers.

South Carolina’s Parker White missed a 38-yard field-goal attempt in the final minute of the third quarter. It was his first miss in 10 attempts this season.

Doty’s two first-quarter TD passes helped South Carolina take a 14-10 halftime lead against its SEC East Division rival.

The Gamecocks’ quarterback found tight end Nick Muse on a 2-yard scoring pass with 9:49 left in the first quarter, and then hit Jaheim Bell on an 82-yard pass play less than 10 minutes into the game.

Vanderbilt’s Rocko Griffin ran 1 yard for a touchdown with 2:53 to go in the second quarter. The scoring drive was set up by Dashaun Jerkins’ recovery at the South Carolina 14 after MarShawn Lloyd fumbled.

The victory was South Carolina’s 13th consecutive in the series and gave them victory No. 100 in the SEC (100-137-1) since joining the conference in 1992.

–Field level Media

Florida Gators quarterback Emory Jones (5) flies forward for extra yards in the first half. The Florida Gators lead 21-0 at the half over the Vanderbilt Commodores Saturday afternoon, October 9, 2021 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL. [Doug Engle/Gainesville Sun]2021

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Emory Jones and No. 20 Florida flatten Vanderbilt

Emory Jones established career highs of 273 passing yards and four touchdowns as No. 20 Florida continued its domination of Vanderbilt with a 42-0 trouncing on Saturday in SEC action in Gainesville, Fla.

Dameon Pierce scored three touchdowns (two rushing, one receiving) as the Gators (4-2, 2-2 SEC) beat the Commodores for the eighth straight time and 30th in the past 31 meetings. Jones completed 14 of 22 passes.

Jacob Copeland, Ja’Quavion Fraziars and Trent Whittemore also had scoring receptions for Florida. Rashad Torrence racked up 15 tackles while Trey Dean III and Daquan Newkirk had interceptions for the Gators.

Vanderbilt (2-4, 0-2) dropped its 15th straight SEC game since defeating Missouri 21-14 on Oct. 19, 2019.

Ken Seals completed 22 of 43 passes for 192 yards and two interceptions for the Commodores. Dashaun Jerkins and Elijah McAllister had interceptions for Vanderbilt.

Joseph Bulovas missed field goals of 39, 41 and 33 yards as the Commodores were shut out for the second time in the past three games.

The Gators totaled 479 yards to Vanderbilt’s 287.

Florida outgained the Commodores 202 to 33 in the third quarter while scoring 21 points to stretch its lead to 42.

Pierce got the assault going when he caught a short pass from Jones and turned it into a 61-yard touchdown with 12:07 left in quarter.

Copeland caught a 25-yard scoring pass from Jones to make it 35-0 with 10:26 remaining. Pierce tacked on a 1-yard touchdown run to boost the lead to 42 with 8:46 left in the stanza.

Vanderbilt ran 49 plays to Florida’s 31 in the first half but still trailed by three touchdowns. The Gators had 215 yards and the Commodores had 200 in the half.

Pierce scored from the 1 with 11:16 left in the first quarter to get the Gators on the board. Nearly six minutes later, Jones connected with Fraziars on a 5-yard scoring pass to make it 14-0.

Jones and Whittemore teamed up on a 9-yard strike to increase the margin to 21 with 3:55 left in the first half.

–Field Level Media

Oct 2, 2021; Lexington, Kentucky, USA; Florida Gators quarterback Emory Jones (5) runs the ball against the Kentucky Wildcats during the fourth quarter at Kroger Field. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Trying to make up ground in division race, No. 20 Gators face Vandy

No. 20 Florida aims to rebound from a costly setback when it faces Vanderbilt on Saturday in SEC play at Gainesville, Fla.

Last weekend’s 20-13 loss to Kentucky leaves the Gators (3-2, 1-2 SEC) in dire shape in the SEC East.

Not only do they trail the surprising Wildcats by two games in the East, but also undefeated No. 2 Georgia — which Florida plays Oct. 30.

Quarterback Emory Jones said it is time for the Gators to regroup and make the best of the situation.

“We all said that the season can go one of two ways — be pouty, be sad about it and lose out, or we can stay focused, get back to the drawing board and tell ourselves we are going harder than ever before and win out,” Jones said. “That’s what we were going to do and we’re going to try our best to go out there and do our job every week.”

Facing the Commodores (2-3, 0-1) typically is a day when Florida adds to the victory column.

The Gators have won the past seven meetings and 29 of the last 30. The last time the teams played in Gainesville, Florida won 56-0 in 2019.

In fact, Vanderbilt has dropped 14 straight SEC games since defeating Missouri 21-14 on Oct. 19, 2019. In their lone SEC contest this season, the Commodores were trampled 62-0 by visiting Georgia.

Keeping up with Florida figures to be a test for Vanderbilt.

“The environments are unforgiving on the road. I think that’s also exciting for us,” Commodores coach Clark Lea said. “We look forward to playing in those hostile environments. We’ll get up for that.”

Vanderbilt is coming off a 30-28 home victory over Connecticut as Joseph Bulovas booted a 31-yard field goal with no time remaining.

The Commodores are allowing 35 points per game while scoring just 16. Quarterback Ken Seals has passed for 894 yards, five touchdowns and five interceptions.

Stopping the run has been a major issue for Vanderbilt and it will represent a challenge to slow a Florida rushing attack that ranks third nationally at 292.2 yards per game.

The Commodores allowed 192 to UConn after giving up more than 200 in each of their previous three games. They rank 115th out of 130 teams in rushing defense at 204.6.

Jones leads the Gators with 439 rushing yards while passing for 871 yards and five touchdowns against six interceptions. He has completed 68.9 percent of his passes for a team averaging 31.4 points per game.

Jones helped Florida hold a 382-224 yardage edge over Kentucky and the Gators controlled the ball for more than 36 minutes. But Florida committed 15 penalties for 115 yards.

Calling the penalties disappointing, coach Dan Mullen said, “It’s my responsibility to make sure the discipline this team plays with and executes at a high level.”

The Gators defense is allowing 19.8 points per game. They have racked up 18 sacks — the 3.6 per game is tied for eighth nationally. Defensive lineman Zachary Carter has a career-high 5.5, raising his career total to 15.

Last season, the Gators beat the Commodores 38-17 in Nashville, Tenn.

–Field Level Media

Sep 25, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Georgia Bulldogs defensive lineman Jalen Carter (88) tackles Vanderbilt Commodores running back Rocko Griffin (24) for a loss during the first half at Vanderbilt Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Brock Bowers leads No. 2 Georgia in rout of Vanderbilt

Tight end Brock Bowers scored three touchdowns and Ladd McConkey added two and No. 2 Georgia delivered a dominating defensive performance in a 62-0 victory over host Vanderbilt on Saturday in Nashville, Tenn.

Bowers, a true freshman, finished with four receptions for 69 yards and two touchdowns. He added a 12-yard scoring run.

McConkey caught four passes for 62 yards and a score to go along with a 24-yard touchdown run for Georgia (4-0, 2-0 SEC).

The Commodores (1-3, 0-1) finished with just four first downs and 77 yards of offense. Georgia rolled up 524, including 334 during a first half in which it scored five touchdowns and a field goal.

Georgia needed just five plays to go 49 yards after a short Vanderbilt punt. Bowers scored on a 12-yard end-around to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead less than four minutes into the game.

After another short punt by Vanderbilt rolled out of bounds at the Georgia 37-yard line, the Bulldogs needed just six plays to double their lead. JT Daniels capped the drive with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Bowers with 8:02 left in the first quarter.

Vanderbilt fumbled away the ensuing kickoff, with Christopher Smith scooping the ball and returning it to the Commodores’ 4-yard line. Two plays later, Zamir White plowed into the end zone from 1 yard out for 21-0 lead with 7:11 left in the first quarter.

Georgia needed just 29 seconds to score again. Smith intercepted Ken Seals’ pass and returned it to the Commodores’ 29-yard line. Two plays later, Daniels found McConkey for a 12-yard touchdown and a 28-0 lead with 6:42 left in the first quarter.

Georgia capped its first-quarter outburst when McConkey found the end zone for the second time. McConkey raced 24 yards untouched on an end-around for a 35-0 lead with 3:08 left.

Vanderbilt coach Clark Lea replaced Seals with Mike Wright.

Joseph Bulovas missed a 49-yard field goal on the Commodores’ next possession.

Stetson Bennett replaced Daniels, who was 9-for-10 for 121 yards and two touchdowns.

Bennett threw an interception on his first series and the Bulldogs turned the ball over on downs at Vanderbilt’s 3-yard line on their next possession. Jack Podlesny capped the first half with a 31-yard goal for a 38-0 lead with 15 seconds left.

Bowers found the end zone for the third time on a 29-yard pass from Bennett to open the second half and Kenny McIntosh added a 4-yard touchdown run on Georgia’s next series.

–Field Level Media

Colorado State defensive lineman Scott Patchan (1), and defensive back Rashad Ajayi (4) attempt to stop Vanderbilt's quarterback Ken Seals, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, at Canvas Stadium.

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Vanderbilt beats Colorado State with field goal in closing seconds

Joe Bulovas connected on a 38-yard field goal with 19 seconds left Saturday night as Vanderbilt rallied from an early two-touchdown deficit to nip Colorado State 24-21 in a non-conference game in Fort Collins, Colo.

The Commodores drove 40 yards in eight plays, aided mainly by a pair of 15-yard penalties on the Rams. Bulovas’ kick evened Vanderbilt’s record at 1-1 and presented new coach Clark Lea with his first career win.

Colorado State (0-2) tied the game with 3:07 left when Todd Centeio hit Trey McBride with a 3-yard touchdown pass. Centeio completed 20 of 38 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns with one interception while rushing for 75 yards on 11 carries. McBride finished with eight catches for 114 yards.

Commodores quarterback Ken Seals overcame a slow start to hit on 26 of 41 attempts for 236 yards with two scores. Re’Mahn Davis rushed 17 times for 77 yards, while Cam Johnson grabbed eight passes for 64 yards and a touchdown.

Colorado State controlled most of the first half, taking a 7-0 lead just 2:03 into the game when Centeio found David Bailey for a 3-yard touchdown pass. The margin reached 14-0 when Bailey ripped off a 20-yard scoring run 52 seconds into the second quarter.

Vanderbilt’s offense, which was shut down by FCS opponent East Tennessee State last week in a season-opening 23-3 loss, finally found a rhythm late in the second quarter. Seals threw for 48 yards on a 58-yard drive, connecting with Chris Pierce on a 20-yard strike over the middle with 47 seconds left in the half.

Seals’ hot hand continued into the third quarter as he hit 6 of 7 passes on the tying touchdown drive, teaming up with Johnson for a 9-yard score at the 9:36 mark.

After a 3-and-out, Seals exploited the Rams’ secondary again for completions of 25, 11 and 15 yards before his 1-yard sneak with 5:32 remaining gave the Commodores their first lead.

–Field Level Media

Dec 12, 2020; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Tennessee Volunteers defensive back Bryce Thompson (0) returns an interception for a touchdown during the first half against the Vanderbilt Commodores at Vanderbilt Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Tennessee blasts Vanderbilt, snaps 6-game skid

Tennessee snapped a program record-tying six-game losing streak by going to Vanderbilt and whipping the Commodores, 42-17, at Nashville on Saturday afternoon.

Tennessee quarterback J.T. Shrout threw a pair of first-half touchdown passes as the Volunteers took a 28-10 halftime lead and never looked back. The Vols had 540 yards of total offense.

Wide receiver Velus Jones Jr. caught seven balls for 125 yards and two scores.

The Commodores (0-9, 0-9 SEC) had 49 available scholarship players on Saturday. Vanderbilt made it competitive for a quarter and a half until the Vols took over and scored 28 straight points.

Running back Tyson Chandler’s 20-yard scoring run 2:10 into the second half, combined with kicker Toby Wilson’s point-after, extended the Vols’ lead to 35-17.

The Vols got the ball on the Vanderbilt 42 for their second possession of the game and marched to the 6. Quarterback Harrison Bailey sucked in the Commodores with a play fake before finding tight end Princeton Fant wide open for a touchdown toss with 5:54 left in the first quarter.

Vanderbilt answered when quarterback Ken Seals found wide receiver Cam Johnson with an 18-yard touchdown pass and kicker Sarah Fuller’s point-after tied the game.

The Commodores went up 10-7 on Pierson Cooke’s 39-yard field goal.

Tennessee answered when Volunteers defensive back Bryce Thompson made an athletic, one-hand grab of a Seals pass and stumbled 18 yards through traffic for a touchdown.

After Tennessee forced a Seals fumble that Vanderbilt recovered at its 2 before punting, Shrout hit Jones for a 22-yard touchdown down the left sideline.

Shrout then found wide receiver Jalin Hyatt with a 26-yard touchdown with 44 seconds left in the first half.

Fuller became the first female to ever score in a Power Five football contest. She added another point-after in the fourth quarter after Seals hit tight end Ben Bresnahan with a 16-yard pass.

Tennessee exploited the right side of Vanderbilt’s offensive line, where right guard Ben Cox made his first career start with Bradley Ashmore beside him at tackle. Both are true freshmen.

The Commodores had just five scholarship defensive linemen available.

Vanderbilt has lost 10 straight games and is in danger of its first winless season in program history. The Commodores, who started playing football in 1890 and have played every year since, are scheduled to play at Georgia next week.

–Field Level Media

Nov 28, 2020; Columbia, MO, USA; Vanderbilt Commodores kicker Sarah Fuller (32) before the game against the Missouri Tigers at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Hunter Dyke/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports

SEC names Fuller a special teams player of the week

Sarah Fuller made history over the weekend.

She received some league-wide recognition for her achievement on Monday.

Vanderbilt’s Fuller, who became the first woman to play during a regular-season game in one of college football’s Power 5 conferences when she took the opening kickoff in the second half against Missouri on Saturday, was named one of the SEC’s special teams players of the week.

Fuller, the starting goalkeeper for the Commodores’ women’s soccer team, executed a squib kick that traveled 30 yards and was downed at the Missouri 35-yard line during the Tigers’ 41-0 win. Her opportunity came because several of Vanderbilt’s specialists were unavailable due to COVID-19 protocol.

Fuller became the third woman to play in a Division I college football game, following in the path of kickers Katie Hnida (New Mexico, 2003) and April Goss (Kent State, 2015).

Florida punt returner Kadarius Toney shared the special teams player of the week honor with Fuller.

–Field Level Media

Nov 21, 2020; Columbia, South Carolina, USA; Missouri Tigers head coach Eliah Drinkwitz discusses a call against the South Carolina Gamecocks in the second quarter at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Missouri continues bowl quest with matchup vs. Vanderbilt

The Missouri Tigers will continue their bowl quest when they host the Vanderbilt Commodores on Saturday.

The Tigers (3-3) will try to get over .500 for the first time this season.

“I’ve got a couple of screenshots of people that predicted us to only win two games,” first-year coach Eliah Drinkwitz said. “People counted us out before we got to the fight. There’s no quit in us.”

The Commodores (0-7) are coming off their best performance since their opening 17-12 loss to the Texas A&M Aggies. Vanderbilt raced to 7-0 and 10-7 leads over the Florida Gators last Saturday before falling 38-17.

“This football team is getting better,” Commodores coach Derek Mason said. “We still have some depth deficiencies on the defensive side of the ball, but we’re working hard on the back end to keep us functionally going.”

This game at Faurot Field was rescheduled from Oct. 17 due to the coronavirus depletion of Vanderbilt’s roster.

The Tigers were originally scheduled to host the Arkansas Razorbacks on Saturday, but the Southeastern Conference postponed that game due to positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing within the Arkansas program.

The Commodores were set to face the Tennessee Vols on Saturday, but the SEC pushed that game back so they could make up their game at Missouri instead.

“Had to flip the switch,” Drinkwitz said. “Excited about the opportunity to play. We’ve had a couple of games canceled, moved around. So I thank the SEC for finding us an opponent. It’s obviously not ideal to switch that late.”

The Tigers played with just 52 available scholarship players last week. Their injury list included guard Xavier Delgado, offensive tackle Larry Borom, nose tackle Kobie Whiteside and defensive end/outside linebacker Trajan Jeffcoat.

Drinkwitz listed those four players as “maybe” for this week. He also got defensive coordinator Ryan Walters and three players back from the coronavirus list.

Back-up quarterback Shawn Robinson remains out and guard Dylan Spencer entered the transfer portal this week.

The Commodores got healthier last week, regaining guards Drew Birchmeier and Dan Dawkins, defensive tackle Cameron Tidd and running back Ja’Veon Marlow.

Freshman quarterback Ken Seals completed 22 for 34 passes against the Gators for 319 yards and two touchdowns — both to receiver Chris Pierce. The Commodores rushed for just 87 yards, so Mason hopes to regain injured running back Keyon Henry-Brooks.

“That’ll be another tool for us as we head down to Columbia,” Mason told ESPN 102.5 radio.

On the downside, starting Commodores inside linebacker Dimitri Moore entered the transfer portal this week.

–Field Level Media

Nov 21, 2020; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Florida Gators wide receiver Kadarius Toney (1) gets away from a tackle attempt from Vanderbilt Commodores cornerback Elijah Hamilton (15) during the first half at Vanderbilt Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Trask (3 TDs) leads No. 6 Florida past Vanderbilt

Florida quarterback Kyle Trask was 26-of-35 for 383 yards and three touchdowns as the sixth-ranked Gators went to Nashville and blew by Vanderbilt, 38-17, on Saturday afternoon.

UF wide receiver Kadarius Toney caught six balls for 107 yards and a score and tight end Kemore Gamble hauled in three for 66 and two scores.

The Gators (6-1, 6-1 Southeastern Conference) have won four straight. Vanderbilt fell to 0-7.

Freshman quarterback Ken Seals was 22-of-34 passing for 319 yards, two touchdowns and an interception for Vanderbilt. Wide receiver Chris Pierce had four receptions for 97 yards and two scores.

Florida finally got separation when running back Dameon Pierce’s 1-yard touchdown run with 9:47 left in the third quarter gave the Gators a 24-10 lead, the first double-digit advantage for either team.

After a Vandy punt to the Gators 9, Trask escaped Vanderbilt’s pass rush, rolled right and threw a 46-yard strike to wide receiver Justin Shorter to get UF across midfield. Six plays later, Trask found Gamble for a 2-yard touchdown throw with 2:55 left in the third for a three-touchdown lead.

Vanderbilt answered when Seals found Pierce open over the middle, as the senior stumbled and broke tackles on his way to a 58-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 31-17.

The Commodores had a chance to get within seven late, but the drive stalled on the Gators’ side of midfield. Florida took over at its 1 following a punt, and then Trask hit Gamble with a 33-yard catch-and-run down the right sideline on the first play.

Backup quarterback Emory Jones finished the drive, hitting a wide-open Gamble for a 30-yard score that put UF back up by 21 with 6:46 to play.

Vanderbilt scored on the game’s first possession, with Seals hitting Pierce with a 16-yard dart for a touchdown with 10:50 left. It was the Commodores’ first lead since the first quarter of their season opener.

Florida answered on its first possession when Vanderbilt defensive back Jaylen Mahoney tripped, leaving Toney wide-open for an easy 27-yard TD throw.

The teams then traded field goals, Vandy’s, a 25-yarder from Pierson Cooke and UF, a 33-yarder by Evan McPherson.

The Gators took their first lead at 17-10 when Trask found wide receiver Trevon Grimes with a 34-yard throw with 49 seconds left in the half.

Trask added to his impressive Heisman resume with Saturday’s showing, leaving Nashville with 31 touchdowns to three interceptions this year.

–Field Level Media