Rodgers leads Vanderbilt to 49-7 rout of UMass

Associated Press Modified: October 27, 2012 at 11:19 pm •  Published: October 27, 2012
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — For more than 25 minutes, Vanderbilt didn't look the part of the favorite. But the Commodores needed just 55 seconds to assume the role.

Two late first-half touchdowns made up for a penalty-filled opening half and broke open a tight game as Vanderbilt rolled to a 49-7 victory over winless Massachusetts on Saturday night.

Jordan Rodgers completed 17 of 21 passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for a score as the Commodores (4-4) overcame 11 penalties, two turnovers and the loss of their starting running back to blow out UMass (0-8).

"I do think that we're making some progress as a program when you score 49 points and win 49-7 and you're not happy; that you feel like you could play better," Vanderbilt coach James Franklin said. "I think that's progress just because we have higher expectations. On the same hand, we're going to enjoy it because winning is hard to do."

Vanderbilt made it look easy in the second half — specifically the third quarter. Within five minutes, the Commodores leapt to a 49-0 lead thanks to four touchdowns, including an interception return and the team's first punt return for a score since 1999.

Rodgers gave Vanderbilt some breathing room going into halftime.

Leading just 7-0, Rodgers hooked up with a wide-open Kris Kentera for a 25-yard touchdown with 1:53 left in the first half. After a fumble by UMass on the ensuing kickoff, Rodgers took advantage of a short field. He rushed for a 4-yard touchdown to give Vanderbilt a 21-0 lead with 58 seconds to go before halftime.

"It was huge," Rodgers said. "We needed it. We got off to a slow start and we needed to hit a couple of those touchdowns late in the half to give us some momentum — some kind of confidence going into halftime because we had too many mental mistakes."

Vanderbilt played undisciplined for most of the game, especially on its opening drive. The Commodores committed six penalties for 50 yards to stall a drive that ended with a pooch punt by Rodgers. Three offensive linemen drew flags, including a 15-yard penalty on center Joe Townsend for an illegal chop block. An illegal shift followed for a first-and-30 at Vanderbilt's own 38, leading to a timeout by Franklin.

That didn't stop the mental errors. Five offensive linemen committed penalties and Vanderbilt tied a season-high with 11 penalties for 80 yards. UMass wasn't immune to yellow flags, either. The Minutemen committed 11 penalties for 94 yards.

"Way too many penalties on both sides of the ball," Franklin said. "That really, I think, made the game difficult because it was just choppy. I think those guys were trying to break a record to see how many flags they could possibly throw."

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