Vanderbilt holds off Tennessee State, 31-27

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Vanderbilt survived a strong effort from crosstown foe Tennessee State, notching a 31-27 home win against the Tigers on Saturday.

Sparked by a pair of Power 5 transfers in quarterback Demry Croft and wide receiver Treon Harris, the Tigers (2-1) rode their pass-happy offense and played opportunistic defense for a 13-10 halftime lead.

Vanderbilt responded with two rapid-fire touchdowns — a 38-yard pass from Kyle Shurmur to Kalija Lipscomb and a weaving 78-yard run by Ke’Shawn Vaughn — in the first six minutes of the second half and looked to be salting away the win. But TSU refused to go quietly, charging back and putting the game in doubt until Croft, a Minnesota transfer, threw incomplete on fourth down, turning the ball over on downs with 1:25 remaining in the game.

Vanderbilt: The Commodores certainly had moments of offensive excellence — Vaughn’s touchdown and the play of Lipscomb in particular — but struggled to slow down TSU at points.

Tennessee State: Rod Reed’s team missed a chance at a defining upset but may turn out to be a surprise team in the Ohio Valley Conference this season.

Vanderbilt: The Commodores travel to No. 2 Georgia Saturday.

Tennessee State: The Tigers face another in-state rival, traveling to nearby Clarksville next week to face OVC foe Austin Peay.