Despite their best efforts late in the game, the Vanderbilt Commodores (2-1) couldn’t overcome a 16-3 start from the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (3-0) en route to a 22-17 loss Saturday afternoon in South Bend.
The Fighting Irish took a 10-0 lead into the second quarter after a field goal and 12-yard rushing touchdown from Brandon WImbush in the first frame.
Justin Yoon tacked on a pair of field goals in the second quarter before Vanderbilt kicker Ryley Guay connected as time expired in the first half to make it 16-3.
To Vanderbilt’s credit, though, they didn’t fold in the tough road contest. They held with the Irish for the entire third quarter, and Kevin Vaughn closed the quarter with a three yard scamper to make it a one possession game going into the fourth quarter.
Even when Notre Dame scored a touchdown in the fourth to make it 22-10 (they missed the two point conversation), the ‘Dores still didn’t back down. Kyle Shurmur led Vandy down the field and found Jared Pinkney for an 18-yard touchdown to cut it to 22-17. Notre Dame missed a field goal and gave Vanderbilt a chance to win the game with 3:30 to go, and the Commodores got the ball past midfield, but they couldn’t get the job done, turning it over on downs at the Notre Dame 31. After burning through their timeouts, the ‘Dores had one final chance, but a 65 yard Notre Dame punt put them at their own 10, and they couldn’t complete a 90 yard hail mary for the victory.
It was the same story as all season for Vanderbilt, as Shurmur was fine, the running backs and defense were good. Can the Commodores compete in the SEC East? It remains to be seen, but Saturday could certainly be something for them to build on.