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.
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