By David Brandt/The Associated Press
OXFORD – Warren Norman rushed for 111 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown, as Vanderbilt beat Ole Miss 28-14 for coach Robbie Caldwell’s first career victory on Saturday.
Vanderbilt (1-2, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) snapped a 10-game conference losing streak dating back to 2008. The Commodores have beaten the Rebels four of the past six seasons.
It was Norman’s third career 100-yard rushing game, and his first against an SEC opponent. The Commodores did most of their damage on the ground, rushing for 227 yards.
Vanderbilt lived off big plays all afternoon. The Commodores scored their first three touchdowns on 35-yard touchdown run by Zac Stacy, a 21-yard interception return by Eddie Foster and the biggest of all — Norman’s 80-yard touchdown run that gave them the lead for good.
Norman’s touchdown came at a critical juncture. Ole Miss (1-2, 1-1) had just tied the scored at 14-14 when the 5-foot-10, 195-pound sophomore scored on Vanderbilt’s first play from scrimmage, running untouched for the longest run of his career and the second-longest run in school history.
Larry Smith added a 15-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. He also completed 9 of 19 passes for 73 yards.
Caldwell, who replaced Bobby Johnson after he surprisingly stepped down in July, is the first Vanderbilt coach to win his road debut since 1975.
While the Commodores were making the most of their opportunities, Ole Miss couldn’t avoid crucial mistakes. The Rebels dropped two touchdown passes, missed a field goal and lost a fumble in the fourth quarter that set up Vanderbilt’s final touchdown.
Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli completed 19 of 35 passes for 190 yards, but threw two interceptions. He rushed for 104 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown run. Korvic Neat scored the team’s first touchdown on a 4-yard run.
The Rebels lost despite outgaining the Commodores 385-300. They completed only 5 of 18 third-down opportunities.
It’s been a rough start to coach Houston Nutt’s third season with the program. The Rebels won 18 games and two Cotton Bowls over the 2008 and 2009 seasons, but have started with two embarrassing home losses this season.
Ole Miss lost to Jacksonville State 49-48 in double overtime in the season opener. It was the first loss to a Football Championship Subdivision team in school history.
Read more about the game in Sunday’s NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.