NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Johnny McCrary threw for five touchdowns to tie a school record and propel Vanderbilt to a 42-28 win over Old Dominion on Saturday night.
McCrary, a redshirt freshman, finished 20 of 29 for 281 yards and no interceptions, finding five different receivers for touchdowns, as Vanderbilt (3-6) piled up a season-high 524 yards of total offense against Old Dominion (3-6), a first-year Conference USA member.
Ralph Webb set a single-game school rushing record of 166 yards, including a touchdown, on 31 carries for the Commodores. Hauling in TD grabs in the win were Nathan Marcus, Steven Scheu, Latevius Rayford, Davis Dudchock and C.J. Duncan.
Old Dominion narrowed the gap to 28-21 in the third quarter, but Vanderbilt pulled away in the fourth quarter.
Taylor Heinicke, the 2012 FCS player of the year, completed 21-of-36 passes for 291 yards and two touchdowns for the Monarchs, who were held to just 45 yards rushing in their fifth straight loss.
Just two other Vanderbilt players have thrown five TDs in a game: Jay Cutler in 2005 against Kentucky and Bill Wade in 1950. Wade went on to play for the Chicago Bears, which is Cutler’s current team.
Hampered by slow starts all season, Vanderbilt reversed the trend by scoring on the game’s opening drive.
Nathan Marcus caught a 7-yard touchdown pass from Johnny McCrary on fourth-and 3, capping an 11-play, 75-yard drive. Marcus was alone in the corner of the end zone on a play-action pass.
It was the Commodores’ third first-quarter touchdown of the year.
Old Dominion answered with a 30-yard pass from Taylor Heinicke to Marques Little, who found a seam in the middle of Vanderbilt’s secondary to tie the game at 7 with 2:57 left in the first quarter.
The Commodores took a 14-7 lead when Ralph Webb made an 8-yard touchdown run up the middle with 7:10 left in the first half, capping a 12-play, 86-yard drive.
Vanderbilt increased its lead to 21-7 when McCrary threw a 5-yard pass to Steven Scheu with two minutes left in the first half. The touchdown was set up by a 39-yard pass from McCrary to Caleb Scott to the Old Dominion 16-yard line.
It took the Monarchs only 41 seconds to narrow the gap to seven as Heinicke hit Antonio Vaughn with an 8-yards pass, capping a 70-yrd drive. Vaughn broke school record with his 31st career TD catch.
The Commodores retaliated with a quick scoring drive of their own as McCrary connected with Latevius Rayford on a 20-yard pass with two seconds left in the first half to cap a four-play, 73-yard drive that took only 1:06. That increased Vanderbilt’s lead to 28-14.
Old Dominion’s defense made a big play early in the third quarter to narrow the deficit to 28-21 when end Poncho Barnwell recovered McCrary’s fumble in the end zone for a touchdown on a bad handoff exchange.
Vanderbilt stretched its lead to 35-21 when McCrary threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to Davis Dudchock early in the fourth quarter.
McCrary threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to C.J. Duncan to give Vanderbilt a 42-21 lead with 4:49 left.
Old Dominion’s Ray Lawry scored from 2 yards out, narrowing the gap to 42-28 with 2:26 left.