NASHVILLE, Tenn.-Vanderbilt's Zac Stacy rushed for a career-high 198 yards and three touchdowns, and the Commodore defense recovered three Army fumbles, as VU raced past Army by a 44-21 score at Dudley Field on Saturday evening.
Stacy's yards came on 21 carries, and was part of Vanderbilt's season-high 344 rushing yards. Vandy also had a season-high 530 yards of total offense.
Vanderbilt controlled the contest from start to finish, rushing out to 13 quick points in the game's first 4:57, and Army never got closer than seven again.
The Commodore defense, meanwhile, did a solid job against the Black Knights' triple-option offense. Army entered the game leading the nation in rushing yardage and time of possession, and VU held them to season-lows in rushing (270) and time of possession (25:45).
"Obviously, this was a good win for us and we're happy about it. We have to appreciate the wins. It's great for the university. We're 4-1 at home, which we're very proud of. We were able to rush for 344 yards, which is a fairly dramatic number," VU coach James Franklin said.
"It helped our defense out and kept them off the field. It helped Jordan [Rodgers] out and it takes some pressure off of him."
Army coach Rich Ellerson, meanwhile, was disappointed as his turnover-plagued offense put the Black Knights defense behind the 8-ball again.
"Offensively, we turned the ball over. That's something in our style of play and what we are as a football team right now, that's going to be hard to overcome," he said.
Meanwhile, Army fans will hold their breath to find out how healthy three-year starting quarterback Trent Steelman is after Saturday's contest. Steelman was helped from the field late in the second quarter with an injury to his left ankle.
Steelman couldn't put weight on his left foot as he was helped to the sideline, and didn't appear to be in uniform after halftime. He finished 1-of-3 passing for 18 yards, and rushed nine times for 40 more.
Army played backups Max Jenkins and Angel Santiago in Steelman's absence, but managed just one offensive touchdown from there.
Vanderbilt got off to a hot start before the Black Knights could blink. After Andre Hal returned the opening kickoff to the Army 46, the Commodores drove eight plays for 46 yards, and scored on Stacy's 1-yard touchdown run.
Two plays later, Vandy's Tim Fugger forced a fumble, and Jordan Rodgers found Chris Boyd down the right side for a 43-yard touchdown on the next snap.
After Army's three-and-out on its next possession, the Commodores appeared primed for another drive. But the Black Knights' Andrew Rodriguez made a nice interception across the middle of a Rodgers pass, giving Army the ball at the VU 29.
Trent Steelman hit Jared Hassin with an 18-yard pass to the VU 11 on the next play, then Steelman pitched right to Malcolm Brown, who tip-toed down the right sideline for six points.
But Army couldn't capitalize on the momentum, mostly because it couldn't keep possession of the ball. The Commodores added a 12-yard Rodgers touchdown run over the middle with 4:49 left in the half, and a 37-yard field goal by Spear with 37 seconds left, to take a 23-6 lead at the break.
The Black Knights had the ball for just 12:46 of the first half, in no small part because Army converted just 1-of-5 on third downs.
VU tacked on a pair of scores just a minute apart midway through the third quarter. Jerron Seymour scored on a 5-yard run to cap a seven-play, 74-yard drive, and after Kyle Woestmann forced a fumble that Vandy's Rob Lohr pounced on at the Army 8, Stacy tacked on an 8-yard scoring run, weaving through arm tackles down the right side for an 8-yard score, and Vanderbilt led 37-6.
The Black Knights finally snapped the momentum on the next drive. A 56-yard run on a fullback dive by Larry Dixon set Army up at the VU 20, where third-team quarterback Santiago, making his first collegiate appearance, rushed for a 1-yard score on fourth down, and then hit Dixon in the end zone on a 2-point conversion.
Army inched closer with Geoffrey Bacon intercepted Rodgers and returned it 70 yards for a score with 11:52 left.
"Geoff's going to play a bigger and bigger role. That's really his second game where he's played a significant number of turns, and we think he's going to be exciting for a long time," Ellerson said.
But Stacy iced the game by racing 55 yards for a score with 6:38 left.
The Commodores improved to 4-3, and await a home date with Arkansas next week.
Army fell to 2-5, and gets Fordham at West Point next Saturday.
Steelman moved past Greg King into ninth on Army's all-time rushing list.