Scores

Final

Elon 14

(0-1, 0-1 away)

Vanderbilt 45

(1-0, 1-0 home)

Coverage: GamePlan

7:30 PM ET, September 3, 2011

Vanderbilt Stadium, NASHVILLE, TN

1 2 3 4 T
ELON 0 7 7 014
VAN 7 14 3 2145

Top Performers

Passing: L. Smith (VAN) - 125 YDS, 2 TD

Rushing: L. Smith (VAN) - 4 CAR, 34 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: A. Mellette (ELON) - 11 REC, 180 YDS, 1 TD

Vanderbilt's gambles pay off with win over Elon

Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Larry Smith threw for two touchdowns and ran for another score, and Vanderbilt beat Elon 45-14 Saturday night in coach James Franklin's debut with the Commodores.

Franklin showed his willingness to gamble with the team considered the worst in the Southeastern Conference, going for it on fourth down three times to keep drives alive scoring 17 points. Smith converted the second on fourth-and-3, running 16 yards for a TD.

The win snapped a seven-game skid for the Commodores who scored more points than they did in all but two games last season. When Trey Wilson picked off a pass and ran it 21 yards for a TD after Smith's second score, Vandy had almost as many points in 14 seconds as the Commodores averaged (16.9) per game in 2010.

Elon outgained the Commodores 323-309 in total offense and held the ball for more than 35 minutes. But Vanderbilt forced three turnovers and turned each of them into touchdowns.

This was Jason Swepson's coaching debut with the Phoenix, and he opened with only Elon's fourth game ever against a team from the Football Bowl Subdivision. Swepson also had to replace a quarterback in Scott Riddle that helped Elon rank second in the FBS last season, averaging 306.4 yards passing per game.

Thomas Wilson did pretty well early. He was 12 of 17 for 169 yards in the first half, but the junior finished 17 of 27 for 233 yards with two interceptions and was replaced late by redshirt freshman Tyler Smith.

Franklin's specialty is offense, and the Commodores did show off some new wrinkles.

Running back Zac Stacy took the snap on one play and handed off to cornerback Casey Hayward. Only a step out of bounds trimmed a would-be touchdown to a 23-yard run. The drive also featured the first attempt on fourth down, and Smith found Brandon Barden for a 14-yard catch before capping the drive with a 15-yard TD pass to Fitz Lassing for a 7-0 lead.

The Commodores converted their third fourth down in the third quarter when freshman Micah Powell picked up 4 yards on fourth-and-1. That drive bogged down, and Vandy settled for a 33-yard field goal by Casey Spears for a 24-14 lead.

Smith has been the starter the past two seasons and completed just 47.4 percent of his passes in 2010. He looked better eluding pressure and tossed TD passes to Fitz Lassing and Chris Boyd. Smith also ran four times for 34 yards yards, including his TD run, and he was 13 of 27 for 125 yards.

Vanderbilt was up so much Franklin put in Jordan Rodgers, younger brother of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and the junior college transfer who sat out last season with a shoulder injury found Boyd on his first throw for a 30-yard TD and a 45-14 lead.

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Team Stat Comparison

 
ELON
VAN
1st Downs1716
Total Yards323309
Passing240177
Rushing83132
Penalties7-344-30
3rd Down Conversions5-164-13
4th Down Conversions1-13-3
Turnovers30
Possession35:3024:30

Passing Leaders

ElonC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Wilson17/272338.612
VanderbiltC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Smith13/271254.620

Rushing Leaders

ElonCARYDSAVGTDLG
Taylor10252.5113
Wilson8232.9010
VanderbiltCARYDSAVGTDLG
Stacy8354.4016
Smith4348.5116

Receiving Leaders

ElonRECYDSAVGTDLG
Mellette1118016.4132
Harris3237.7014
VanderbiltRECYDSAVGTDLG
Matthews35819.3044
Boyd24120.5230

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERELONVAN
TD02:38Fitz Lassing 15 Yd Pass From Larry Smith (Carey Spear Kick) 07
SECOND QUARTERELONVAN
TD11:00Dontay Taylor 1 Yd Run (Adam Shreiner Kick) 77
TD08:20Larry Smith 16 Yd Run (Carey Spear Kick) 714
TD08:06Trey Wilson 21 Yd Interception Return (Carey Spear Kick) 721
THIRD QUARTERELONVAN
TD12:21Aaron Mellette 32 Yd Pass From Thomas Wilson (Adam Shreiner Kick) 1421
FG07:53Carey Spear 33 Yd 1424
FOURTH QUARTERELONVAN
TD13:29Chris Boyd 11 Yd Pass From Larry Smith (Carey Spear Kick) 1431
TD11:45Wesley Tate 23 Yd Run (Carey Spear Kick) 1438
TD09:12Chris Boyd 30 Yd Pass From Jordan Rodgers (Ryan Fowler Kick) 1445