Vanderbilt Coach Bobby Johnson had this to say about his team’s struggles after the game, "Tennessee had a lot to do with it, but we dug such a big hole in the first half that we had a hard time coming back in the second half with that kind of deficit. They were very good on defense and we just had way too many mistakes in the first half; it just killed us and it didn't give us a chance."
The final stats really tell the story. The Commodores were only able to manage 213 total yards of offense and only 25 of those yards came on the ground. The Vanderbilt quarterbacks finished the game 19 of 43 for 188 yards and were sacked 6 times.
The game started well for the Dores when on Tennessee’s second play of the game Myron Lewis intercepted a Jonathan Crompton pass at the Tennessee 30 yard line. Unfortunately the Vandy offense with Chris Nickson at quarterback would lose four yards on the drive and have to punt the ball back to the Vols.
That would be all of the excitement for the first quarter as the teams traded punts for the rest of the quarter. Tennessee would get on the board first when Montario Hardesty took the ball into the end zone from eight yards out with 11:25 left to go in the first half.
The Volunteers would get on the board again after the Black and Gold offense’s three and out was followed by an 18 yard punt from Brett Upson that gave Tennessee the ball at the Vandy 35 yard line. Hardesty would take the first play of the UT drive 27 yards down to the eight yard line. The Vols were unable to gain another yard and would settle for a 25 yard Daniel Lincoln field goal.
Josh Allen would return the ensuing kickoff 33 yards to give the Dores great field position. That drive would not end well for Vandy because just four plays later Nickson would throw a ball up for grabs that was intercepted by Eric Berry and returned 45 yards for a Tennessee touchdown. That return gave Berry the single season record for interception return yards in season.
The Vols would make it 20-0 nothing before the end of the half after Brent Vinson intercepted a Mackenzi Adams pass and returned it 69 yards to the Vandy 7 yard line with just 14 seconds remaining in the half. Tennessee would take one shot at the end zone and then settle for a 24 yard Lincoln field goal.
The Commodores would open the second half with a solid drive that covered 53 yards in 14 plays. The drive would stall inside the Tennessee 20 yard line, and the Dores would get on the board with a 31 yard field goal by Bryant Hahnfeldt.
Reshard Langford cut the lead to 20-10 when he picked off a B. J. Coleman pass and returned it 42 yards for a touchdown. That score came with 4:20 left in the third quarter and looked like it was going to give the Commodores the spark they needed to get back in the game.
Vandy was unable to turn that spark into a fire because of their struggles on offense. They would have four more possessions in the game but never really threatened to score any points. The combination of no running game, bad offensive line play, and inaccurate passes proved to be the recipe for falling to a Tennessee team that the Dores should have been able to beat.
Vandy will have another shot at getting their seventh win of the season when they travel to North Carolina next Saturday to take on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. That game kicks off at 6 p.m.