AJ Swann throws for three touchdowns as Vanderbilt holds off Hawaii

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Vanderbilt quarterback AJ Swann threw for 258 yards and three touchdowns, and safety De’Rickey Wright had two interceptions, as the Commodores beat visiting Hawaii 35-28 in Nashville, Tenn., on Saturday night.

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One crucial turnover and costly special teams mistakes hurt the Rainbow Warriors, who got standout performances from Brayden Schager (351 yards, three touchdowns) and two receivers making their Hawaii debuts: Kansas transfer Steven McBride (seven catches, 98 yards, two scores) and freshman Pofele Ashlock (seven catches, 127 yards, one touchdown).

Schager hit Ashlock with a 3-yard scoring strike with 11:20 left in the game to trim Hawaii’s deficit to 35-21. Dalen Morris’ 1-yard scoring run with 4:49 to play cut Vanderbilt’s lead to one touchdown.

The Rainbow Warriors nearly recovered an onside kick following the Morris touchdown, but Jaylen Smith’s elbow was out of bounds. After a Vandy punt gave Hawaii the ball back at its 20, Wright got the game-sealing interception with 1:43 left.

Swann hit Will Sheppard with a 1-yard score with 9:32 left in the third quarter to give Vandy a 28-14 lead.

Swann then found true freshman London Humphreys with a 32-yard touchdown on a fourth-and-7 play 12 seconds into the fourth quarter.

Hawaii outgained Vanderbilt 202-132 in the first half. But the Rainbow Warriors trailed 21-14 at the break thanks to several crucial mistakes.

Hawaii’s Matthew Shipley punted for no gain to give Vandy its first possession at the Rainbow Warriors’ 32, setting up Patrick Smith’s 21-yard touchdown run.

Schager found McBride for an 8-yard touchdown to answer, but then Vandy’s Jayden McGowan raced 96 yards on the ensuing kickoff for a score.

After another Hawaii punt, Swann found a wide-open Sheppard for a 7-yard score to make it 21-7. Schager’s 45-yard throw to McBride on a fourth-and-4 with 13:03 left in the half got Hawaii within seven after Shipley’s point-after.

After Vandy turned it over on downs, Hawaii blew a first-and-goal opportunity inside the Vandy 1 after an offsides penalty that preceded Wright’s end-zone interception.

Kickoff time was scheduled for 6:30 CT, but was delayed to 8:11 due to lightning in the area.

Vanderbilt, a 17-point favorite this year, beat Hawaii 63-10 in last season’s Week Zero opener for both teams.

—Field Level Media

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