It wouldn’t be Vanderbilt football if they didn’t make things as difficult as possible.
In spite of facing an Ole Miss defense that had surrendered an average of 42.6 ppg in SEC games entering tonight, Vanderbilt opened the game with punts on its first three drives. On the other side, the Rebels had two long drives early on, but Vanderbilt held them to a pair of field goals.
But the big play finally came, with Jordan Ta’amu finding star receiver A.J. Brown for an 84-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter to give Ole Miss a 13-0 lead. It was looking like this wasn’t Vanderbilt’s night. The Commodores used a 39-yard pass to Jared Pinkney to set up a 44-yard field goal from Ryley Guay, getting on the board and cutting Ole Miss’s lead to 13-3.
And then came the play that might have turned the game around. After forcing a rare three-and-out, Vanderbilt’s Max Worship blocked a punt that bounded through the end zone on one bounce, giving Vanderbilt a safety and cutting the lead to 13-5. The Commodores followed that up with a big kickoff return by Jamauri Wakefield, setting up their first touchdown of the game on a two-yard pass from Kyle Shurmur to Kalija Lipscomb. The only bad news was that the Commodores couldn’t capitalize on another three-and-out by Ole Miss, with Shurmur throwing an interception just before halftime and sending the teams to the locker room with Ole Miss leading, 13-12.
Then things got weird in the second half. Vanderbilt took its first lead on a one-yard TD run by Ke’Shawn Vaughn, and Ole Miss countered with a field goal. And on Vanderbilt’s next possession, well... I’ll just let the play-by-play sum this up:
4th & 9 at VAN 26
(9:00 - 3rd) Parker Thome pass incomplete to Dare Odeyingbo
Well alrighty then. For those keeping score at home, that’s a punter throwing an incomplete pass to a defensive end. Moving on... in spite of the short field, Ole Miss could only manage a field goal, and Vanderbilt took the lead right back on a 12-play, 75-yard drive ending with a C.J. Bolar touchdown catch. Jordan Ta’amu would find Damarkus Lodge in the end zone to tie the game at 26, but Ryley Guay’s second field goal of the night gave Vanderbilt a 29-26 lead — and after Ta’amu threw an interception in the end zone, it looked like Vanderbilt might hold on.
But a quick three-and-out gave Ole Miss new life, and the Rebels marched down the field to set up a 32-yard field goal by Luke Logan, sending the game into overtime.
In the extra period, Vanderbilt took the ball first, and a couple of handoffs to Ke’Shawn Vaughn set up a very quick touchdown pass to Lipscomb — but a rather controversial unsportsmanlike conduct call allowed Ole Miss to start its ensuing possession on the Vanderbilt 12. But what looked to be a game-tying TD pass to A.J. Brown in the end zone was overturned on review — some think Randall Haynie might have actually come up with an interception — and Ole Miss’s fourth-down pass fell to the ground, giving Vanderbilt a 36-29 win.