NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Mike Wright scored a program record six touchdowns throwing for 245 yards and running for 84 more as Vanderbilt beat Elon 42-31 Saturday night.
“We love that he’s on our side,” Vanderbilt coach Clark Lea said. “As he goes, we go on offense. I thought there were times where he was magnificent.”
With the victory, the Commodores matched Lea’s win total for all of his debut season in the first two games to start this season. It’s Vanderbilt’s first 2-0 start since 2018 as the Commodores spoiled Elon’s season opener.
Matthew McKay and Elon sure made it interesting late after pulling within 11. The Phoenix recovered an onside kick. Vanderbilt forced a turnover and stopped a pair of fourth-and-1 attempts in the final 3:19, the second just outside its own goal line with 49 seconds left.
“I was happy for the defense to step up, I was happy for the defense to keep more points off the board and I was proud of the way they responded,” Lea said.
Elon coach Tony Trisciani noted this was the first game for his program compared to Vanderbilt having an opening win at Hawaii.
“You take away those first game pitfalls that we fell into in the first half and you look at what we did in the second half, we can definitely build on that,” Trisciani said.
Wright, who scored four touchdowns in Vanderbilt’s season-opening win in Hawaii, topped the previous record matched by Earl Bennett against Kentucky in 2005 and set by Frank Mordica with five TDs against Air Force in 1978.
The quarterback put Vanderbilt ahead to stay with a 5-yard TD run, then dropped the ball into Jayden McGowan’s hands for a 75-yard catch and run up the Vanderbilt sideline. Wright then made it a 21-0 lead with a 6-yard TD to Will Sheppard late in the first quarter. His 26-yarder to Sheppard made it 28-10 before halftime.
Wright became Vandy’s first quarterback with multiple TD runs in consecutive games since Greg Zolman in 1999 with a 44-yard run early in the third for his fifth TD of the game and a 35-10 lead. He took the record to himself with a 9-yard TD pass to Ray Davis with 10:02 left in the fourth.
“It’s a beautiful thing to see,” defensive end Elijah McAllister said of Wright. “Honestly, it’s just funny because it’s not surprising to me. He does it every single day in practice.”
The game started 30 minutes late because of weather. Play continued despite lightning delaying the start of an MLS game between Nashville and Austin just three miles away for nearly an hour.
This was a big difference from Vanderbilt’s season opener last year against a FCS opponent. East Tennessee State ruined Lea’s debut. Elon came in receiving votes in both of the top FCS polls but leaves still looking for its first win over a FBS team since moving to the FCS level.
Elon outgained Vanderbilt 495-424 and held the ball for more than 34 minutes. McKay finished with 270 yards and two TD passes while running for 52 yards and two more TDs.
Elon: Quarterback Joey Baughman hurt his right leg and was helped to a cart and taken to the locker room just before halftime. He was 1 of 2 for 10 yards passing, and Baughman also ran four times for 20 yards.
Vanderbilt: These Commodores are proving to be very offensive, scoring 21 points in the first quarter for 84 points through the first five quarters this season. It’s their best offensive start since opening the 1970 season with 91 points. … They also can score quickly. Four drives took 1:57 or less.
MORE WRIGHT STUFF
The Vanderbilt quarterback was the Commodores’ first to throw for four TDs in a game since Kyle Shurmur in 2017.
Elon visits Wofford as part of a two-game road swing to start this season.
Vanderbilt hosts No. 22 Wake Forest, a 44-10 winner over VMI in its opener.
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