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 in front of 32,210 fans during Vandy's homecoming weekend.
Stacy's yards came on 21 carries, and was part of Vanderbilt's season-high 343 rushing yards. Vandy also had a season-high 529 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 (266) and time of possession (25:45).
QB, Trent Steelman Injured
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 freshman 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 freshman 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 frosh linebacker Geoffrey Bacon intercepted Rodgers and returned it 70 yards for a score with 11:52 left.
Bacon would finish the contest with a career-best 12 tackles which was tops for the Black Knights.
But Stacy iced the game by racing 55 yards for a score with 6:38 left.
As much as the Army defense was unable to slow down the Commodores offense who compiled 344 yards rushing, to finish the evening with 530 yards in total offense, while the nations leading rushing offense was held to a mere270 yards rushing.
The Commodores improved to 4-3, and await a home date with Arkansas next week.
While Army fell to 2-5, and host Fordham at West Point next Saturday.