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McCrary Joins Elite Company | McCrary's 5 TDs | Dudchock's Spectacular TD
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- After all the talk about Vanderbilt's quarterback carousel, Johnny McCrary made a good case to remain the starter.
The redshirt freshman completed 20-of-29 passes for 281 yards, tied a school-record with five touchdowns -- all to different receivers -- and led the Commodores to a 42-28 win over Old Dominion on Saturday night.
"Johnny McCrary played well tonight," Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason said. "He set a record in terms of touchdowns. He did a great job distributing the ball."
Vanderbilt (3-6) is the only Football Bowl Subdivision team to start four quarterbacks this season.
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. Cutler watched McCrary tie his record Saturday from the press box.
"I look at Jay Cutler all the time," McCrary said. "I try to study any quarterback in the NFL. When you have a line like I did and you have wide receivers that make plays like I did, of course you're going to break some type of record eventually."
Tight ends remained an important part of Vanderbilt's offense as Nathan Marcus, Steven Scheu and Davis Dudchock each caught touchdown passes. The Commodores entered the game with the second-most receptions (34) by tight ends in the Southeastern Conference.
Vanderbilt's Ralph Webb rushed for 166 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries. Webb broke the freshman single-game rushing record.
"We just come out here and focus on winning each and every game," Webb said. "If it comes it comes and if it doesn't, it doesn't."
The Commodores piled up a season-high 524 yards in total offense against Old Dominion (3-6), a first-year Conference USA member.
The Monarchs were held to 45 rushing yards as they lost their fifth straight and haven't played a home game since Oct. 4.
Monarch quarterback Taylor Heinicke, the Football Championship Subdivision national player of the year in 2012, completed 21-of-36 passes for 291 yards and two touchdowns.
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 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 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 2 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 just 41 seconds to narrow the gap to seven as Heinicke hit Antonio Vaughn with an 8-yard 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 2 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 narrowed the gap to 28-21 in the third quarter, but McCrary threw two more touchdown passes to help Vanderbilt pull away in the fourth quarter.
Vanderbilt's 33 first downs was the most since 2009.
The Commodores had a huge advantage in possession time - 45:17 to 14:43.
"I think Vanderbilt at this point is a better program than we are," Old Dominion coach Bobby Wilder said. "It was evident particularly up front in the offensive and defensive lines both size-wise and strength."