Vanderbilt created three turnovers and held Ole Miss to two touchdowns in a 28-14 victory on Saturday at Oxford, Miss.
It was Robbie Caldwell’s first victory as a head coach and snapped a 10-game conference losing streak for Vanderbilt.
“It was a very emotional time," Caldwell said. "I think it’s the first time my wife or daughter have been to an away game. They had a great time and got to witness this. But it’s not about me; it’s about the young people on this team. I’m just so thrilled that they got the taste of victory."
Cornerbacks Casey Hayward and Eddie Foster each intercepted quarterback Jeremiah Masoli. Foster returned his interception 21 yards for a touchdown.
Linebacker John Stokes forced a fumble on Korvic Neat that safety Kenny Ladler recovered.
The defense also got the ball back in the fourth quarter when it held the line on fourth-and-inches. The Commodores (1-2, 1-1 SEC) led 21-14 when they stopped Masoli on a quarterback sneak.
“Our defense works hard every day to create turnovers, so we try to create them in practice from fumbles to interceptions to however we can get the ball," Caldwell said. " It’s funny we talked about it in the huddle on the sideline. Not only did we do that, we did it and scored."
Quarterback Larry Smith's 15-yard rushing touchdown with 8:04 remaining was the final score of the game. Smith completed nine of 19 passes for 73 yards and threw no interceptions.
Warren Norman rushed 15 times for 111 yards, including an untouched, 80-yard touchdown in the third quarter that put VU ahead to stay. Vanderbilt had 227 total rushing yards.
Ole Miss (1-2, 0-1) scored both its touchdowns rushing. Masoli had a 28-yard touchdown with 8:34 to go in the third. Neat had a 4-yard touchdown run that tied it 14-14 near the end of the first half.
Masoli led Ole Miss with 104 rushing yards. He was 19-for-35 passing with 190 yards and the two interceptions.
"He is an exceptional player, my hat's off to him," Caldwell said. "We felt like if we could keep him in the pocket it would be hard for him to see over those big giants. I’m talking about those big guys in there; that was kind of our plan. He got out some you know in that short yardage; it was a mental mistake on our part."
Foster’s interception return came on the first play of a second quarter Mississippi drive and made it 14-0. Six minutes earlier, Zac Stacy’s 35-yard touchdown run put the Commodores on the board 7-0.
"I broke on it and got there just in time and had a clear run to the end zone," Foster said. "... I felt like in all phases of the game the team played really well."
Vanderbilt has an open date schedule next week then goes back on the road to face Connecticut.
"We are going to be enthusiastic about meeting UConn in two weeks," defensive tackle Rob Lohr said. "We are definitely going to be pumped up and ready to go.”