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November 18, 2006NASHVILLE, Tenn.-Vanderbilt (4-7, 1-7) came into Saturday's game against Tennessee (8-3, 4-3) bruised and battered. And in avenging last year's 28-24 win in Knoxville, the Vols added insult to injury this time around.
Tennessee rolled up 429 yards of offense and consistently won the field position battle in defeating Vanderbilt 39-10 on Saturday.
Vanderbilt's Chris Nickson, who had been fantastic in his last three games, completed just 10-of-23 passes and was intercepted twice. The Vols also kept Nickson's running in check by staying in their rush lanes and holding the Vandy quarterback to 44 yards on 13 carries.
Defensively, the Commodores couldn't stop Erik Ainge, who completed 21-of-26 throws for 266 yards and two touchdowns. Ainge led the Vols to 17 points on drives starting inside Vandy territory, including two starting at the Commodore 17 and 12.
After keeping teams under 400 yards the first 10 games, a wounded Commodore defense never consistently slowed the Vols' attack.
Tennessee struggled to run the ball in previous weeks, but even that came easy on Saturday. The Vols, led by Nashville native LaMarcus Coker, ran for 163 yards as a team, led by Coker's 123--87 coming on a second-quarter touchdown run.
Vandy jumped out to a 7-6 second-quarter lead after Nickson hit George Smith with a 7-yard scoring pass on a third-and-goal play from the Tennessee 6.
But the Vols answered by marching 80 yards in six plays, and went up 13-6 when Coker scored on an eight-yard sweep around right tackle.
After a Vandy three-and-out, the Vols added another touchdown just before half when Ainge hit Jayson Swain with a 6-yard toss with 17 seconds left in the half.
Leading 19-7, the Vols went for the two-point conversion, but Joel Caldwell broke up Ainge's pass in the end zone.
The Vols added a James Wilhoit field goal on their first drive of the second half, and after another Vandy punt, took a 29-7 lead on Coker's long gallop.
After Jonathan Hefney returned a Nickson pass to the Vandy 17, Ainge hit Robert Meachem with a 17-yard touchdown pass on the next play for a 36-7 lead.
Wilhoit added his fourth field goal later in the fourth quarter, and in a gesture of goodwill to a graduating senior, Vandy coach Bobby Johnson brought Patrick Johnson on the field for a 21-yard field goal on a fourth-down play at the Vol 4.
Johnson hit the kick-his first points of the season-to account for the final 39-10 margin.
Vanderbilt's season ended on day in which 16 Commodores were honored in a pregame on-field ceremony on "Senior Day." The Vols play Kentucky next week in their regular-season finale.
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