Dores Leap Over Bulldogs

Will Sheppard collects a pair of touchdowns for the second-straight game to open 2023

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Will Sheppard scored two touchdowns on short receptions, and Sedrick Alexander reached the end zone twice on fourth-quarter runs to help Vanderbilt beat Alabama A&M 47-13 Saturday.

Sheppard finished with six receptions for 62 yards, and Jayden McGowan added six catches for 70 yards. Alexander ran for 87 yards on 12 carries.

AJ Swann completed 15 of 29 passes for 194 yards with one interception and directed a balanced attack that amassed 194 yards passing and 160 yards rushing before the reserves took over midway through the fourth quarter. The sophomore quarterback connected with Sheppard on the two touchdowns and scored his first career rushing touchdown on a third-quarter sneak.

Vanderbilt is 2-0 for the second straight time under third-year head coach Clark Lea.

Sheppard scored the game’s first touchdown on a 3-yard reception with 8:50 to play in the second quarter. His 17-yard touchdown catch 2:42 into the second half gave Vanderbilt a 19-3 lead.

The teams traded field goals on their opening possessions. Vanderbilt went ahead to stay when freshman Bryan Longwell blocked a punt and the ball rolled through the back of the end zone for a safety. That made it 5-3 with 26 seconds to play in the first quarter.

Vanderbilt blocked another punt in the fourth quarter, this one by Langston Patterson, which led to Alexander’s second touchdown, a 9-yard run with 11:32 remaining.


Sheppard went over 1,500 career receiving yards in the contest against Alabama A&M. He also had two receiving touchdowns that equaled his total from the previous week against Hawai’i and gave him four for the season. It is also the second time in Sheppard’s career that he has caught two touchdowns in a game, as he also had two receiving touchdowns in back-to-back games to open the 2022 season.

With 17 career touchdown catches, Sheppard has tied Bucky Curtis (1947-50) for seventh in program history. Allama Matthews (1981-82) is in sixth with 18.


Vanderbilt plays its third straight nonconference contest but its first on the road, at Wake Forest next Saturday.