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NCAAF: East Tennessee State rips big favorite Vanderbilt, 23-3

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The East Tennessee State Buccaneers, listed as 22-point underdogs, shocked the host Vanderbilt Commodores, 23-3, in Nashville on Saturday night.

East Tennessee State (1-0) won with its defense, including a 27-yard fumble recovery and a return for a touchdown by linebacker Stephen Scott.

As for the Bucs’ offense, Tyler Riddell threw a touchdown pass to Malik Murray, Tyler Keltner was perfect on three field goals and two extra points, and running back Quay Holmes ran 23 times for 149 yards, leading to the nonconference upset.

Riddell, who is 3-1 in his career as a starter, completed 13-of-22 passes for 135 yards, with zero interceptions.

Vanderbilt (0-1), which lost its 11th straight game, was held to one field goal from Joseph Bulovas in a disappointing debut for new Commodores coach Clark Lea.

Ken Seals, Vandy’s starting quarterback, completed 20-of-34 passes for 195 yards, with one interception and one lost fumble.

The last time Vandy won a game was in 2019, beating this same East Tennessee State program, 38-0.

On Saturday, Vanderbilt got on the board first, getting a 51-yard field goal from Bulovas with 4:15 left in the first quarter. The drive was set up by Seals’ 31-yard pass to wide receiver Chris Pierce. Vanderbilt reached the Bucs’ 18-yard line on second down and four, but the drive stalled due to a false start, a Colton Lakes sack and an incompletion.

For Bulovas, though, it was atonement as he had been Alabama’s starting kicker before getting benched for all of 2020. This followed a missed 30-yard kick against Auburn in 2019.

Meanwhile, the Bucs responded to Bulovas’ boot with a nine-play, 90-yard drive, taking a 7-3 lead on Riddell’s five-yard TD toss to Murray with 7:24 left in the second quarter.

Keltner’s 41-yard field goal with 2:24 left in the second quarter helped the Bucs take a 10-3 lead into halftime.

The Bucs put together another impressive drive in the third quarter, going 68 yards on 10 plays before settling for Keltner’s 25-yard field goal.

With 9:47 left in the fourth quarter, Seals dropped back but lost the ball, leading to Scott’s game-sealing touchdown.

Keltner then added a 34-yard field goal with 3:29 left to close the scoring.

–Field Level Media

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