Vanderbilt survived a scare from crosstown foe Tennessee State, squeezing out a 31-27 home win against the FBS Tigers on Saturday.
The Commodores (3-2) sputtered offensively out of the gate with quarterback Kyle Shurmur throwing two interceptions, as many as he had in Vanderbilt's first four games, in the game's first 15 minutes.
Sparked by a pair of Power 5 transfers in quarterback Demry Croft and wide receiver Treon Harris, the Tigers (2-1) rode their pass-happy offense and played opportunistic defense for a 13-10 halftime lead.
Vanderbilt responded with two rapid-fire touchdowns - a 38-yard pass from Shurmur to Kalija Lipscomb and a weaving 78-yard run by Ke'Shawn Vaughn -- in the first six minutes of the second half and looked to be salting away the win. But TSU refused to go quietly, charging back and putting the game in doubt until Croft, a Minnesota transfer, threw incomplete on fourth down, turning the ball over on downs with 1:25 remaining in the game.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores certainly had moments of offensive excellence -- Vaughn's touchdown and the play of Lipscomb in particular -- but struggled to slow down their FBS opponents. That doesn't bode well for a team with bowl hopes staring down seven straight SEC games.
Tennessee State: Rod Reed's team missed a chance at a defining upset but may turn out to be a surprise team in the Ohio Valley Conference this season.
Tennessee State: Linebacker Christion Abercrombie suffered a serious head injury during the second quarter of the game and was carted off the field and taken to a local hospital where he underwent emergency surgery. Abercrombie is 6'1", 230 pounds, and a native of Atlanta. He previously played college football at Illinois before TSU.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores travel to No. 2 Georgia Saturday.
Tennessee State: The Tigers face another in-state rival, traveling to nearby Clarksville next week to face OVC foe Austin Peay.