September 16, 2017
Vanderbilt beats first ranked team of season in No. 18 K-State
By Zac Ellis
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Vanderbilt faced its first big test of the 2017 season against No. 18 Kansas State on Saturday night.
In front of a packed house at Vanderbilt Stadium, the Dores passed with flying colors.
Vanderbilt held the prolific Wildcats’ high-octane offense to just seven points in a defensive battle and emerged with a 14-7 win in Nashville. With the victory, the Commodores moved to 3-0 for the first time since 2011.
Here’s how it went down on West End.
WHAT HAPPENED: Kansas State came into Saturday’s matchup averaging 55 points a game, but Vanderbilt’s defense made the ‘Cats work for every yard. The two teams fought to a 7-7 halftime lead, but Vanderbilt stifled K-State into two second-half turnovers. The second miscue led to the Dores’ go-ahead touchdown, making it 14-7 Vanderbilt with under nine minutes to play. The Wildcats drove for one final shot at the end zone, but LaDarius Wiley and Oren Burks stopped quarterback Jesse Ertz one yard short of the sticks on fourth down to seal the win.
TURNING POINT: In the midst of a tight 7-7 ballgame, Vanderbilt safety Ryan White picked off Ertz and returned to the K-State 33-yard line. Shurmur hit Trent Sherfield for a 33-yard gain on the next play, and three plays later the quarterback took a bobbled snap and scampered into the end zone from two yards. That made it 14-7 Vanderbilt with 8:23 to play.
QB Kyle Shurmur
The junior quarterback finished 14-of-23 for 205 yards, but he had a hand in both of Vanderbilt’s touchdowns on the day. He hit C.J. Duncan with a 2-yard scoring pass in the first quarter and gave the Dores the final lead with his running touchdown in the fourth quarter.
ILB Emmanuel Smith
Smith continued his surge in the middle of Vanderbilt’s defense. He notched a career-high in tackles for the third straight game, notching 12 against K-State alongside one tackle for loss.
OLB Charles Wright
Among the national leaders in sacks, Wright added to his tally against Kansas State. He led the Dores with 1.5 sacks, bringing his season total to 5.5 on the year. Vanderbilt now has 10 sacks as a team; it had 15 all of last season.
GIVE ME THE NUMBERS
Total points given up by Vanderbilt this season. Kansas State scored 55 points in each of its first two wins, but the Commodores prevented Ertz and company from running up the score on Saturday.
Kansas State’s rushing total. The Wildcats had very little trouble running against Vanderbilt’s defensive front. Though Ertz only threw for 76 yards, he ran for 126 yards on 24 carries. Behind Ertz’s production, K-State averaged 5.7 yards per carry, but the Commodores still limited the Wildcats to 4-16 on third down.
Dating back to last season, Vanderbilt has now won five straight games at Vanderbilt Stadium. That includes victories over two ranked teams in Kansas State and Tennessee.
WORTH NOTING: Vanderbilt’s win over Kansas State was the program’s first victory over a ranked nonconference opponent since 1946.
WHAT’S NEXT: Vanderbilt welcomes No. 1 Alabama to Vanderbilt Stadium next Saturday, Sept. 23. Kickoff is 2:30 p.m. CT on CBS.
Zac Ellis is the Writer and Digital Media Editor for Vanderbilt athletics.