Vanderbilt 35, Middle Tennessee 7
When: 7:30 PM ET, Saturday, September 1, 2018
Where: Vanderbilt Stadium, Nashville, Tennessee
Vanderbilt's defense sacked Middle Tennessee quarterback Brent Stockstill six times and forced him into two critical turnovers as the host Commodores knocked off their local rival by a 35-7 score on Saturday evening at Vanderbilt Stadium.
The Commodores limited the Blue Raiders quarterback to 178 yards on 24-of-36 passing, with 100 of those yards coming in the first quarter. MTSU couldn't get its ground game going when it mattered, gaining 14 yards on 17 first-half carries.
Commodores quarterback Kyle Shurmur was 10-of-17 passing for 170 yards and two touchdowns, and Vanderbilt never turned it over.
VU inside linebacker Jordan Griffin had eight tackles -- five solo and two for loss. MTSU linebacker Darius Harris added eight stops to lead the Blue Raiders.
It was Vanderbilt's fourth win over MTSU in four years.
Vanderbilt didn't do much offensively, but wide receivers Chris Pierce and Kalija Lipscomb both helped Shurmur out with diving touchdown catches of 17 and 28 yards, respectively, in the second half.
Vanderbilt led 14-7 at halftime despite being outgained 145-89, thanks to four sacks and a pair of mistakes by the Blue Raiders.
Vanderbilt ran running back Khari Blasingame left on the game's first five snaps. The fifth came on a fourth-and-3 from the MTSU 30 and ended with the senior dashing virtually untouched to the end zone.
MTSU struck back when Stockstill hit wide receiver CJ Windham with a 4-yard pass with 1:59 left in the first quarter, capping a 15-play, 93-yard drive.
After a punt that pinned MTSU back on its 7, Stockstill threw a backwards pass to running back Brent Anderson that he couldn't handle. With the ball lying on the ground, defense end Dayo Odeyingbo picked it up and ran it in for an easy 3-yard score.
Vanderbilt also got a key fourth-down stop around midfield in the first quarter.
The Commodores, already playing without one starting safety (Zaire Jones was suspended), lost the other when LaDarius Wiley, the team's leading tackler from last year, was disqualified with 5:42 to go in the first quarter for targeting.
But reserve safety Frank Coppet stepped up in Jones' place, adding a fourth-quarter pick in the end zone.
--Field Level Media
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