It was another close game for the Irish in the fourth quarter.
The game got off to a good yet ominous start for the Irish. Notre Dame took the initial drive and ran it right down Vanderbilts throat — right up until they got close the goaline, and Vanderbilt forced a 26 yard Justin Yoon field goal.
It was a theme that haunted the Irish for most of the day.
In a game that saw the Irish come out firing on both sides of the ball, the momentum started to swing Vanderbilt’s way towards the end of the first half. Although the Irish finally found the endzone with a 12 yard Brandon Wimbush run at the end of the first quarter, two drives in the second quarter only netted 6 points. Vanderbilt put a short 72 yard drive together and kicked a field goal right at the close of the second quarter to send the teams into the locker room with the score of 16-3.
That momentum continued for Vanderbilt in the second half.
It was equal parts a stalling Irish offense and an inspired Vandy defense. The Irish were held scoreless in the third quarter while Vanderbilt really started to put it together on offense and racked up the yards with Kyle Shurmer leading the way. A 3 yard TD run from Ke’shawn Vaughn made the game 16-10 — and made it a brand new game.
Notre Dame answered with a 75 yard TD drive that ended with Nic Weishar in the endzone, but the Irish went for 2 and failed. Vanderbilt went right back at it and drove the ball 75 yards as well, and scored on a 18 yard touchdown pass from Shurmur to Jared Pinkney.
The game is at 22-17 and after a great Michael Young return to midfield, Notre Dame ends the drive with a Justin Yoon miss. Vandy took the ball and pushed it right down the field, and finally got that shady DPI call hat Mason was freaking out about.
The Commodores pushed it to the brink down five, but on fourth down the pass from Shurmer hit the ground as his receiver couldn’t maintain possession. Notre Dame was unable to run the clock out, but a 63 yard punt from Tyler Newsome with the Vandy punt block coming helped seal the deal.
Notre Dame escapes with a 22-17 win that still feels a bit hollow — much like last week.
We will have much more on One Foot Down on this game and the fallout tonight and tomorrow (and the days to come).