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McCrary Makes Most of Opportunity | McCrary's TD
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason called his second win with the Commodores a matter of resolve, not relief.
Vanderbilt ended a three-game losing streak with a 21-20 homecoming win over Charleston Southern on Saturday night.
The Commodores (2-5) built a 21-10 halftime lead before holding off a second-half rally by the Buccaneers (5-1).
"We talked about, really for us, making sure that when they pushed we pushed back," Mason said. "And we did that. We pushed back."
Mason said the Commodores committed too many penalties - 10 for 85 yards.
Vanderbilt's Johnny McCrary was 10-of-16 for 169 yards and a touchdown.
Mike Holloway carried 18 times for 105 yards and caught three passes for 79 yards to lead the Buccaneers.
Charleston Southern narrowed the gap to 21-17 on Zachary Frazier's 8-yard touchdown run with 5:56 left in the third quarter.
David Kennedy's 30-yard field goal narrowed the gap to 21-20 with 10:19 left.
Tommy Openshaw's 39-yard field goal on the game's first possession gave Vanderbilt a 3-0 lead with 10:57 left in the first quarter.
Vanderbilt's 3-0 lead after a quarter marked just the second time the Commodores have led after 15 minutes. They've been outscored 59-17 in the first quarter this season.
Kennedy's 23-yard field goal for Charleston Southern tied the score at 3 on the second play of the second quarter.
McCrary replaced starter Wade Freebeck early in the second quarter. Three plays later McCrary threw a 65-yard touchdown pass to C.J. Duncan, who got open behind the Charleston Southern secondary.
"He was so wide-open and I was like it's made to happen," McCrary said. "When I threw it up in my head I was like, I threw it way too far and I'm going to miss him. But I forgot it was C.J and he caught the ball, and it was amazing."
Duncan dove over the goal line, giving the Commodores a 10-3 lead with 10:25 left in the first half.
"It was good to see Johnny out there," Duncan said. "It's a testament to his work ethic and his craziness, and his positive attitude. He's been waiting a long time for this moment and he stepped up in a big way."
Vanderbilt's Taurean Ferguson intercepted an Austin Brown pass and returned it to the Buccaneers' 34-yard line, setting up the Commodores next touchdown.
Six plays later Dallas Brown scored on an 8-yard run. Andrew East caught a conversion pass from Taylor Hudson, increasing Vanderbilt's lead to 18-3 with 5:06 left in the first half.
Charleston Southern's Larenzo Mathis blocked Taylor Hudson's punt and returned it 17 yards for a touchdown, narrowing Vanderbilt's lead to 18-10 with 36 seconds left in the half.
Openshaw's second field goal, this one from 42 yards, built the Commodores' lead to 21-10 as time expired in the half.