Saturday night Vanderbilt (3-0) beat No. 18 Kansas State (2-1) by a final score of 14-7 in a defensive battle in front of a sold out crowd.
The Commodore victory proved to the Vanderbilt community and the rest of the country that the ‘Dores are ready to make some noise.
Kansas State faithful traveled well, however the Commodore faithful willed their Commodores to victory it seemed as the crowd really seemed to jolt the defense with new energy in the second half of play, not only with a much better crowd turn out, but lots of noise.
It seemed as if the Vandy fans could feel it too, once the second half arrived, that Derek Mason could take them to new heights, and this marquee win was in fact a game changer for the program – and indeed it was.
The victory marked the first victory over a ranked, non-conference opponent since 1946.
Vanderbilt improved to 3-0 for the first time since 2011.
Vandy struggled mightily to run in-between the tackles for virtually the entire ball game, as the Wildcat defense keyed on Senior Ralph Webb and running mate Khari Blasingame, as Webb rushed for 47 yards on 21 attempts – 72 yards rushing throughout the ball game as a team.
However, Kyle Shurmur made plays when needed, taking the next step the ‘Dores need, to be a contender for more.
Trent Sherfield (4 rec. 97 yds.) and C.J Duncan (6 rec. 52 yds., 1 TD) led the ‘Dores passing attack.
Despite little rushing success, Kyle Shurmur (14/23, 205 yards, 2 total TDs) found Duncan to cap a drive that lasted virtually the entire first quarter for a 2-yard score to put Vandy ahead a touchdown – the first points of the ball game.
Kansas State Senior Quarterback Jesse Ertz scored the lone Wildcat touchdown with just under 15 minutes to go in the second quarter, a 15-yard scamper for a touchdown.
Throughout the second half, Vanderbilt’s offense seemed to sputter, despite the defense forcing 2 interceptions in the latter stages of the contest. Vanderbilt was forced to punt, misfiring on potential opportunities to convert their drives into points a decent portion of the second half.
Ertz gained much of his 143-yard rush total in the first half, as the Vanderbilt defense seemed to bottle up both the pass and run well throughout the second half.
Emmanuel Smith led the ’Dores in tackles with 12.
JoeJuan Williams (8 tackles, 3 PBU), Ryan White (1 interception), and Ladarius Wiley (1 interception, 11 tackles) were bright spots in the secondary. Wiley was named the SEC Co-Defensive Player of the week on Monday.
Charles Wright showed up big again, as the Junior amassed 1.5 sacks on Saturday, while being a presence along with the entire defensive line for a great majority of the second half. Wright runs his sack total to 5.5 in three games, leading the nation in sacks.
Collectively, Vanderbilt held the Wildcats leading receiver Byron Pringle to just 2 receptions, 4 yards.
As a collective unit the Commodores gave the offense a chance, and Quarterback Kyle Shurmur took advantage of a short field, cashing in after picking up a bad snap, diving for a score from 2 yards out with 8:23 in regulation to put the ‘Dores up 14-7.
The defense strung together two vital stops, as Kansas State was able to get inside the Commodore 30-yard line on what proved to be the final drive of the game inside two minutes to go.
However, a fourth down try failed, as a desperation stretch to pick up the first down by Ertz jarred the football loose.
Vanderbilt sealed a victory to propel their season into a Week 4 matchup with No.1 Alabama, as the ‘Dores are riding a big wave of momentum.
Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. from Vanderbilt Stadium.