GAMEDAY College Football

Vanderbilt 38, Northern Illinois 28

By JACK McCARTHY
Associated Press

DEKALB, Ill. - Freshman quarterback AJ Swann threw four touchdown passes and Vanderbilt rallied to a 38-28 non-conference victory over Northern Illinois.

Swann, making his third appearance and first career start, engineered a comeback from a two-touchdown deficit as the Commodores (3-1) scored 24 unanswered points in the second half. He completed 18 of 28 passes for 255 yards and the four scores.

Vanderbilt coach Clark Lea said he decided at midweek to start Swann over veteran Mike Wright.

"We weren't playing well enough on offense (in previous games) to not look at what we could do to move forward," Lea said. "We knew we had to open up and see if there was an answer for us. We've seen (AJ) in practice. He's been a consistent playmaker for us in practice and a guy that has shown command of an offense. I'm pleased that he was able to show up today."

Northern Illinois (1-2) suffered its second straight loss as starting quarterback Rocky Lombardi left the game in the second quarter with an unspecified injury.

Trailing by two touchdowns in the third quarter, Swann cut the margin to 28-21 with 6:44 left as he scrambled to find running back Ray Davis on fourth down for a 21-yard score.

Vanderbilt then forced a 28-28 deadlock with Swann's 31-yard TD pass to Will Sheppard with 4:36 showing. Swann and Sheppard combined again on a 13-yard strike and a 35-28 lead with 1:11 left in the quarter.

Kicker Joseph Bulovas made it 38-28 with his 35-yard field goal early in the fourth.

Sheppard closed with 10 receptions for 171 yards.

Vanderbilt improved to 5-0 all-time against Northern Illinois.

Huskies backup quarterback Ethan Hampton, who went 12 of 19 for 124 yards and two touchdowns, combined with wide receiver Tucker Cole on a 70-yard touchdown pass for a 28-14 lead in the third quarter but the Huskies were shut out the rest of the way.

"I thought he (Hampton) handled it well," Northern Illinois coach Thomas Hammock said. "I thought he was prepared and he's taken a lot of snaps. Obviously he's played just one game of football for us but he came in and was able to execute the offense. But when your backup quarterback comes in everybody else around him has to play better."

THE TAKEAWAY

Vanderbilt: Swann relieved Wright late in last week's 45-25 loss to Wake Forest and earned the start this week. He went 8 of 11 for 146 yards and two touchdowns against the Demon Deacons.

Northern Illinois: The Huskies celebrated the 10th anniversary of their 2012-13 Orange Bowl season on Saturday, welcoming nearly 40 players back from a 12-2 team that suffered a 31-10 bowl loss to Florida State.


Scoring Summary
First Quarter VandyNIU
Vandy TD 7:54 Gavin Schoenwald 3 yd pass from AJ Swann (Joseph Bulovas kick) 7 0
NIU TD 4:56 Cole Tucker 1 yd pass from Rocky Lombardi (John Richardson kick) 7 7
Second Quarter VandyNIU
Vandy TD 14:12 Ray Davis 3 yd run (Joseph Bulovas kick) 14 7
NIU TD 5:32 Kacper Rutkiewicz 4 yd pass from Ethan Hampton (John Richardson kick) 14 14
NIU TD 0:37 Antario Brown 51 yd run (John Richardson kick) 14 21
Third Quarter VandyNIU
NIU TD 13:37 Cole Tucker 70 yd pass from Ethan Hampton (John Richardson kick) 14 28
Vandy TD 6:44 Ray Davis 21 yd pass from AJ Swann (Joseph Bulovas kick) 21 28
Vandy TD 4:31 Will Sheppard 31 yd pass from AJ Swann (Joseph Bulovas kick) 28 28
Vandy TD 1:07 Will Sheppard 13 yd pass from AJ Swann (Joseph Bulovas kick) 35 28
Fourth Quarter VandyNIU
Vandy FG 12:21 Joseph Bulovas 35 yd FG 38 28
Team Stats
  Vanderbilt Northern Illinois
First downs 21 17
  Rushing 8 7
  Passing 13 7
  Penalty 0 3
3rd Down Efficiency 7-14, 50% 5-12, 42%
4th down efficiency 2-2, 100% 1-3, 33%
Rushes-Yards 39-173 31-151
Passing Yards 255 203
Return Yards 110 32
Completions-Attempts-Int 18-28-0 19-26-1
Sacks-Yards Lost 0-0 1--1
Punts 2 3
Punts-Average 51.5 47
Fumbles Lost 1-1 0-0
Penalties - Yards 5-50 5-40
Time of Possession 30:44 29:16
Vanderbilt Passing
Player Cmp Att Yds TDs Int
A. Swann 18 28 255 4 0
Northern Illinois Passing
Player Cmp Att Yds TDs Int
E. Hampton 12 19 124 2 1
R. Lombardi 7 7 79 1 0
Vanderbilt Rushing
Player Carries Yds Avg TDs
R. Davis 23 116 5.0 1
C. Gillespie 10 48 4.8 0
A. Swann 3 14 4.7 0
Northern Illinois Rushing
Player Carries Yds Avg TDs
A. Brown 8 60 7.5 1
H. Waylee 17 52 3.1 0
K. Rutkiewicz 2 21 10.5 0
R. Lombardi 1 8 8.0 0
E. Hampton 2 6 3.0 0
M. Blakemore 1 4 4.0 0
Vanderbilt Receiving
Player Rec Yds Avg TDs
W. Sheppard 10 171 17.1 2
J. McGowan 4 43 10.8 0
R. Davis 3 38 12.7 1
G. Schoenwald 1 3 3.0 1
Northern Illinois Receiving
Player Rec Yds Avg TDs
C. Tucker 4 88 22.0 2
F. McCray 3 46 15.3 0
S. Thornton 5 37 7.4 0
K. Rutkiewicz 3 17 5.7 1
M. Travis 1 13 13.0 0
B. Dozier 1 3 3.0 0
T. Tewes 1 2 2.0 0
H. Waylee 1 -3 -3.0 0
Vanderbilt Interceptions
Player Int Yards
D. Wright 1 35
Northern Illinois Interceptions
Player Int Yards
Vanderbilt Punting
Player Punts Yards Avg
M. Hayball 2 103 51.5
Northern Illinois Punting
Player Punts Yards Avg
T. Foley 3 141 47.0
Vanderbilt Punt Returns
Player Ret Yards Average
W. Sheppard 2 22 11.0
Northern Illinois Punt Returns
Player Ret Yards Average
Vanderbilt Kick Returns
Player Ret Yards Average
J. McGowan 2 41 20.5
L. Patterson 1 12 12.0
Northern Illinois Kick Returns
Player Ret Yards Average
M. Blakemore 2 32 16.0
Vanderbilt Missed FG
Player Length
Northern Illinois Missed FG
Player Length




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