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Notre Dame Rallies to Pull Out Victory at Vanderbilt, 14-7

Marc Edwards
(file photo)

NASHVILLE, Tenn — The Fightin’ Irish of Notre Dame rallied behind the running of fullback Marc Edwards to pull out a victory against the Vanderbilt Commodores, 14-7.

Edwards, the leading rusher for the game, carried 22 times on the night for 84 yards. Combined, the Irish outgained the Commodores on the ground 229 to 59.

The game was marred by a total of nine fumbles, seven of which were lost (four by Notre Dame).

The game was a three-point affair at the half, Notre Dame leading by a slim field goal of 33 yards by Jim Sanson, as neither team was able to move the ball with much effectiveness. The longest Notre Dame drive in the first half was one of 82 yards which netted the three-point score. They failed an earlier attempt at a field goal of 37 yards by Scott Cengia that sailed wide nght. After that, the kicking duties fell to Sanson for the remainder of the game

In thc second half, Notre Dame made another long drive and capped it off with a field goal of 32 yards. The Irish began to run the ball more effectively in the second half and started to chew up the clock, keeping the Vanderbilt defense on the field. However, they weren’t helping their own cause that much with the continual turnovers. In the first half, Notre Dame fumbled on its first possession, missed a field goal, punted the next three times they had the ball, fumbled again and made a field goal on its last drive of the half.

That’s not to say that Vanderbilt had it any better. The Commodores couldn’t get past the 50-yard line in the first half, recovering the fumble off of the first Notre Dame drive, but immediately turning it into an interception to give the ball right back to the Irish. The first half had the Irish with 47 total plays and the Commodores with 29. Notre Dame outdid the Commodores on the clock as well, holding an almost two to one advantage in time of possession.

The second half wasn’t all that bleak for the Commodores. After a fumble by Notre Dame’s Edwards, Vanderbilt recovered in very good position, at the Notre Dame 23. However, a penalty and a sack put the Commodores in an incredibly long range situation of second and 41. After a running play to make it third and 37, Vanderbilt quarterback Damian Allen let fly with a 50-yard pass attempt that was caught by Todd Yoder for a touchdown. The subsequent extra point gave the Commodores a very slim 7-6 lead with 11:16 left to play in the game. The touchdown was Yoder’s first of his career.

However, the Irish were not done. Quarterback Ron Powlus stepped up to the challenge and led the Irish on a charge of 75 yards — a 14-play drive that culminated in a three-yard rush by Marc Edwards, exacting a little revenge for the fumble that led to the Vanderbilt touchdown. Holding a five-point lead, Irish coach Lou Holtz decided to go for two to give Notre Dame a lead of a full touchdown. Edwards eagerly obliged — scoring on the play — which put Notre Dame up 14-7 with 6:11 left to play in the game.

Vanderbilt got one more drive to try to complete the upset. They only got three plays into it before the fumble bug struck again. Notre Dame recovered and was able to run out the clock.

Ron Powlus had a career night, setting a personal record for completions in a single game. He finished the night 19-32 for 216 yards. His counterpart, Allen, only attempted 17 passes, completing 10 for 124 yards. Overall, the Irish outgained the Commodores 445 to 2, the two rushing yards a net because of Allen’s total losses of 47 yards on the ground. The leading receiver for Notre Dame was Emmett Mosely, who caught six passes for 55 yards. The leading receiver for Vanderbilt was Jason Tomichek, who only had two receptions for 34 yards.

“We felt a sense of urgency, and the scoreboard told us the whole story. Coach Holtz said to me, ‘Now we’ll find out just what kind of team we are,”‘ said Powlus. “Vanderbilt has a great defense. We knew that. They are a good team, no doubt about it. There was no underestimation.”

Said fullback Marc Edwards, “I was embarrassed about how I played, because I was the one who was the main contributor to the turnovers. Vanderbilt didn’t tire. We just made up our minds that we would have to find a way, and we found it.”

“I want to compliment Vanderbilt,” said Irish coach Lou Holtz. “I think they gave a tremendous effort. I thought they played an outstanding game. I think their coaching staff did an outstanding job in having them ready for their opening game.”

“The four turnovers by the backs are the most I can ever remember. I was really discouraged!” Holtz admitted. “We didn’t hit some passes that I thought we had open early. The one thing I really was pleased with was the way our players responded, and competed coming back.”

“I told our football team that I felt Vanderbilt was one of the best defensive football teams that we would play this year.”

Scoring Summary

At: Vanderbilt Stadium Date: Sept. 5, 1996Att:  41,523Notre Dame (6)     0    3    3   8  -- 14Vanderbilt         0    0    0   7  -- 7         ScoringFirst QuarterNoneSecond QuarterND -- FG, Jim Sanson, 33, :05Third QuarterND -- FG, Jim Sanson, 32, 8:21Fourth QuarterVAN -- TD, Todd Yoder, 50 pass from Damian Allen, (Brett Speakman kick), 11:13ND -- TD, Marc Edwards, 3 run, (Marc Edwards run, 2-point conversion), 4:59                  ND        VANFirst downs       25        5     Rushing      14        1     Passing      9         4     Penalty      2         0Rushing Attps     57        23     Rushing Yds       229       51Yards Lost        5/11      7/49Net Rushing       218       2Net Yds Passing   216       124          Pass Att     32        17      Pass Comp    19        10      Pass Int     0         1Off Plays         89        40Net Yards         434       126     Ave Gain     4.9       3.2Return Yards      57        31Fumbles/lost      7-4       2-2Penalties/yds     8-73      5-41Int/yards         1-37      0-0Punts             4-171     8-375     Average      42.8      46.9Punt ret/yards    3-20      3-31                    Fumble Ret/yds    5-4       4-4KO ret/yds        1-21      3-86          Poss time         38:47     21:133rd down conv     9-17      2-104th down conv     0-1       0-0Individual StatisticsRushingND -- Edwards 22-84-1, Denson 19-59-0, Farmer 10-41-0, Powlus 5-20-0, Mosley 1-14-0. VAN -- Dunnavant 15-31-0, MA Williams 1-3-0, Allen 7-(-32)-0.PassingND -- Powlus 32-19-0-216-0.  VAN -- Allen 17-10-1-124-1.ReceivingND -- Mosley 6-55-0, Johnson 4-69-0, Edwards 4-50-0, Chryplewicz 3-25-0, Denson 1-9-0, Nelson 1-8-0.VAN -- Dunnavant 2-17-0, Tomichek 2-34-0, Baker 1-11-0, Dukke 1-0-0, Winkler 1-1-0, Yoder 1-50-1, Hogans 1-5-0, Miller 1-6-0.PuntingND -- Smith 4-171-42.8.VAN -- Marinangel 8-375-46.9.Field GoalsND -- Cengia 37 (miss); Sanson 33, 32.VAN -- None.InterceptionsND -- Edison 1-35, Dansby 0-2.VAN -- None.Punt ReturnsND  -- Denson 3-0-20.VAN -- Duke 3-0-31.Kick ReturnsND -- Mosley 1-21.VAN -- Charley 2-43, Chavous 1-43.FumblesND -- Farmer 3, Edwards 3, Edison 1.VAN -- Dunnavant 2.