Vanderbilt gave Army a taste of its own medicine.
Zac Stacy and the Commodores outraced the country’s top rushing offense, cruising to a 44-21 victory on Saturday night on homecoming in front of 32,210 at Vanderbilt Stadium.
Stacy scorched the Black Knights for a career-high 198 yards and three rushing touchdowns — the most by a Vanderbilt player since 2007. Quarterback Jordan Rodgers, making his first start, threw for 186 yards, rushed for 96 and had two touchdowns — one passing and one rushing.
The Commodores (4-3) snapped a three-game losing streak with 530 yards of total offense — 344 on the ground. They rolled up more than 200 yards on the ground for the second straight week.
“I don't know if we have necessarily found something,” Vanderbilt coach James Franklin said. “I don't know if we have figured anything out yet. We're going to be doing that for a long time, I think. But we are getting better. We are starting to show somewhat of an identity.”
Stacy scored on runs of 1, 8 and 55 yards — his last pushing the Commodore lead to 37-6 midway in the third quarter. It was the third highest rushing total in school history.
“[The holes] were pretty big,” Stacy said. “The line, they don't block all 11 guys. There were times where I had to make a couple guys miss in open space. ... Most of it was the offensive line. Those guys did a great job of creating seams for not only me but Jordan and [Jerron] Seymour to run through. We knew Army was going to be a disciplined team. We just did a good job of coming in and making plays.”
Rodgers, starting over Larry Smith, was 10-of-27 with two interceptions and one touchdown — a 43-yarder to Chris Boyd that gave Vanderbilt a 13-0 lead less than five minutes into the game. Boyd finished with career-highs in receptions (four) and yards (90) .
After his first interception allowed Army to cut the deficit to seven, Rodgers made up for it with a nine-play, 83-yard drive in the second quarter. He kept the Black Knights honest by making plays on his feet. He capped it off by pump faking, pulling the ball down and rushing 12 yards up the middle, untouched to the end zone for a 20-6 lead with 44:49 to go in the first half.
“It definitely adds a dimension,” Franklin said. “That is a strength of his. It is something that has really helped us. It helped us last week. It helped us [Saturday].”
The run game chewed up the clock and kept Army off the field. The Black Knights (2-5) not only entered averaging 361.3 yards but they also led the country in time of possession (35:23). Against Vanderbilt, they were only on the field for 25:45 and were held to 270 rushing yards.
The Commodores also forced five fumbles and recovered three — two of which led to touchdowns.
Vanderbilt wraps up a three-game homestand next Saturday against No. 10 Arkansas. Then comes a trip to Florida as the road gets tougher on their quest to pick up two more wins and lock up their first bowl bid in three years.
But Saturday’s win revitalized Vanderbilt.
“Just being able to rebound, there are a lot of teams you lose three emotional games like that, they would have a hard time bouncing back,” Franklin said. “I think that also shows the resiliency of this team. It shows the character of this team. We are going to keep fighting no matter the odds, no matter the situation.”