NASHVILLE, Tenn.-Vanderbilt's 24-point second-quarter offensive explosion helped it build a 31-3 halftime lead, and quarterback Larry Smith accounted for 270 yards of offense and three touchdowns, as the Commodores cruised to a 52-6 rout of Eastern Michigan on Saturday evening.
A Dudley Field crowd of 33,107 watched the Commodores' offense roll up 259 yards in the second quarter, as VU scored 24 unanswered points in a span of 9:51 and erase any suspense that the Eagles, riding a 17-game losing streak, would pull an upset.
Smith accounted for three first-half touchdowns, hitting Udom Umoh and Mason Johnston with scoring strikes, and snuck over from a yard out on VU's first offensive play.
Vandy's 558 yards of offense were a season high. Smith, who didn't play in the fourth quarter, registered a season-high 253 passing yards.
"Great team effort. I'm very proud of all three phases. Defense did a great job. It took us a little while to figure it out, and we finally slammed the door on 'em," coach Robbie Caldwell said.
The Commodores wasted no time putting points on the board. Just 1:11 into the game, Vandy's John Cole caught an EMU punt near the right sideline at the VU 46, weaved through traffic, and sprinted down the left sideline, where he was knocked out of bounds about six inches shy of the goal line.
"It was cloudy at first, but the guys did a great job blocking," Cole said. "Some lanes opened up, and I was able to hit a seam."
Smith took the first offensive snap and snuck over center for a score, and the point-after put VU up 7-0.
"That was big for us, because we haven't been able to capitalize in the first quarter all year," Cole said.
Later in the quarter, the Eagles pulled within four after a 10-play, 72-yard drive culminating in a 22-yard Sean Graham field goal.
After the offense sputtered for much of the first half, Smith got the 'Dores going by hitting Turner Wimberly and Tray Herndon with big pass plays to move deep into EMU territory on Vandy's second drive of the quarter.
From there, Warren Norman scooted 19 yards up the middle for a touchdown, putting Vanderbilt up by 11.
On EMU's next possession, Tim Fugger forced his fourth fumble of the year-which Jamie Graham recovered-and Ryan Fowler tacked on a field goal with 6:59 left in the half.
After Eastern punted on the next possession, Smith found a wide-open Umoh across the middle for a 65-yard catch-and-run for another score.
With 22 seconds left in the half, Smith hit Johnston with a 2-yard scoring toss near the front right pylon of the end zone to extend the lead to 31-3.
EMU's Grant opened the second-half scoring by connecting on a 43-yard field goal with 8:50 remaining in the third.
But Vandy answered just 58 seconds later, when Zac Stacy raced 68 yards to put the 'Dores up 38-6.
Norman tacked on an 11-yard scoring run later in the quarter. After Smith departed, Jared Funk completed a short pass to Cole along the right sideline, and after Cole darted through traffic, he found daylight and sprinted 57 yards untouched down the right sideline for the final score.
Cole finished with a career-high 103 receiving yards, and added 60 in punt returns.
VU out-gained EMU 520 to 91 from the second quarter on.
"We might have let our guard down a little bit, and it took a little time to wake us up," Caldwell said.
Vanderbilt (2-3, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) travels to Georgia next weekend. Kickoff is scheduled for 11:21 a.m. Central.