NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Vanderbilt forced three turnovers and
turned them into touchdowns in a span of 2:15 in the second half,
sparking a 38-9 victory over Division I-AA Tennessee State on
The Commodores (1-3) led 10-3 late in the third quarter, but
downed Brett Upson's 32-yard punt at the Tennessee State 1.
Two plays later, Vanderbilt's Jonathan Goff applied pressure to
quarterback Antonio Hefner, who threw the ball into the back of one
of his linemen. Vandy's Marcus Buggs picked off the deflection just
before stepping out of the back of the end zone for a touchdown.
On the Tigers' next play from scrimmage, Vanderbilt safety
Reshard Langford picked off a pass from Hefner and returned it 21
yards to the Tennessee State 33. Nickson hit Earl Bennett with a
33-yard TD pass on the next play.
A solid defensive effort helped the Commodores to a 10-3
halftime lead. The Tigers (2-2) didn't record a first down until
midway through the second quarter.
The Commodore offense failed to take advantage of two scoring
opportunities on their first two possessions.
After driving to the TSU 2, Bryant Hahnfeldt missed a 19-yard
field goal, and only minutes later, Tennessee State's Shaun
Richardson dropped Cassen Jackson-Garrison before the goal line on
a fourth-and-goal play from the 1.
Vanderbilt did score on its next possession when Nickson hit
Marlon White with a 5-yard touchdown pass with 1:11 remaining in
the first quarter. Hahnfeldt added a 26-yard field goal on the next
Commodore drive for a 10-0 lead.
TSU added a 25-yard Eric Benson field goal with 2:08 remaining
in the half. The drive was set up when Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
intercepted Nickson at the Vanderbilt 39 and returned it to the 12.
The Tigers scored their lone touchdown when Hefner hit Chris
Johnson with a 15-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.
The meeting was the first between the two universities, located
only a few miles apart.