Saturday got off to an inauspicious start for the Vanderbilt Commodores in Winston-Salem. On the third play of the game, AJ Swann threw a bad pass on 3rd and 4 that Wake Forest’s Malik Mustapha returned all the way to the Vanderbilt 10. And then, with Wake Forest threatening, the game went into a two-hour lightning delay.
After the teams returned to the field, Vanderbilt held Wake to a field goal (which no one actually saw, because the ACC Network was too busy showing Holy Cross-Boston College.) The Demon Deacons extended the lead to 10-0 early in the second quarter after a 9-play, 80-yard drive. Vanderbilt responded quickly with an 11-yard touchdown pass from Swann to Will Sheppard, set up by a 50-yard pass to Jayden McGowan, to make it 10-7. Wake extended the lead to 17-7 with another long touchdown drive; Vanderbilt struck back quickly by going 75 yards in four plays to cut the lead to 17-14.
A quick three-and-out gave Vanderbilt hope of taking the lead or tying the game to go into halftime, and then the Sickos Committee decided that, no, Wake Forest was going to extend its lead to 24-14 when Vanderbilt (a) picked up a running into the kicker penalty that (b) did not matter, because Vanderbilt muffed the punt and former Commodore Brendon Harris took it in for a touchdown:
VANDY ROUGHS THE PUNTER, THEN FUMBLES THE RETURN AND WAKE TAKES IT BACK FOR A TOUCHDOWN!!!pic.twitter.com/b4SciB5QPw— Sickos Committee (@SickosCommittee) September 9, 2023
And if you thought that was stupid, well, things continued to be pretty stupid in the third quarter. Wake extended the lead to 27-14 with a 44-yard field goal on its first drive of the second half. Vanderbilt would then have the ball 1st and goal at the Wake Forest 3 after a 40-yard Patrick Smith run, and came away with zero points after some of the least inspired goal line playcalling in the history of football. On the ensuing possession, a 74-yard run by Wake’s Tate Carney set the Demon Deacons up with a 1st and goal at the Vanderbilt 2, which they... promptly fumbled away at the goal line (initially ruled a touchdown, then overturned on review.)
Vanderbilt would get some yardage on the ensuing possession that started at its own 1, but a bad snap on 3rd and 1 at the Wake 47 led to a turnover on downs. And Wake Forest called ballgame on the ensuing possession with Mitch Griffis finding Ke’Shawn Williams on 3rd and 10 for a 24-yard touchdown pass to make it 33-14 (after a hilariously botched two-point attempt.)
A London Humphreys touchdown cut the lead to 33-20 with 9:08 left, but Wake would bleed 6:44 off the clock on its ensuing drive before kicking a field goal to make the final 36-20. Vanderbilt had 423 yards of total offense but managed just 20 points thanks to three turnovers. The Commodores are now 2-1 on the season and play UNLV next Saturday.