NOTRE DAME, Ind. — In an early battle of undefeated teams, the eighth-ranked Notre Dame football team remained perfect with a 22-17 victory over SEC foe Vanderbilt on Saturday afternoon at Notre Dame Stadium.
Notre Dame (3-0) out-gained the Commodores (2-1) on the ground, 245-94, paced by 118 yards from junior running back Tony Jones. Junior signal caller Brandon Wimbush added 84 yards and a touchdown on the ground while throwing for 122 yards.
The Irish defense was led by graduate linebacker Drue Tranquill’s nine tackles, all solo. Troy Pride added seven tackles, an interception and three break-ups. Alohi Gilman arguably had the play of the game, forcing a Vanderbilt fumble on the Irish one-yard line, which was recovered by Julian Love in the endzone for a touchback. The Irish defense forced a total of three Vanderbilt turnovers.
Graduate punter Tyler Newsome earned the game ball after shattering the Notre Dame single-game record for punting average with five punts, all longer than 50 yards, for an average of 59.6 yards per punt. His long was 63 yards and he pinned the Commodores inside their own 20-yard line twice. Newsome was already the record holder with an average of 52.4 against UMass in 2015.
How It Happened
Notre Dame has now opened with points on its first drive in all three games this season. The Irish went 74 yards on 10 plays over the first 3:58 of the game before Justin Yoon connected for a 26-yard field goal.
The Irish netted the next three scores to open a 16-0 lead. Wimbush capped a 94-yard drive to make it 10-0 with a 12-yard run to paydirt. A pair of Yoon field goals followed from 33 yards and 46 yards. Vanderbilt scored its first points of the day as time expired in the first half to cut the Irish lead to 16-3.
The third quarter was nearly played to a stalemate before Vanderbilt’s first touchdown of the day came on a three-yard rush by Ke’Shawn Vaughn with 11 seconds remaining in the quarter.
Notre Dame responded early in the fourth with an 11-play, 75-yard drive over 4:07 to take a 22-10 lead. The drive was capped when Ian Book completed a two-yard pass to Nic Weishar before a two-point attempt was negated by a penalty.
Vanderbilt stayed in the game with Kyle Shurmur hitting Jared Pinkney for an 18-yard touchdown to draw within five, 22-17, with 7:22 to play.
The Irish defense sealed the win, getting a fourth-down stop on the Irish 31-yard line with just over a minute left. The win was sealed with a 63-yard punt from Newsome before Julian Love recovered a fumble after an attempted hook-and-ladder play resulted in a scrum.
The Irish hit the road for the first time this season on Saturday, Sept. 22, at Wake Forest. Kickoff is set for noon ET on ABC and the ESPN app.