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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Vanderbilt loses seventh consecutive game, falls to No. 12 Ole Miss 33-7

The Commodores struggled to generate any offense against the Ole Miss Rebels, producing only 229 total yards.
Kamrean+Johnson+warms+up+before+the+Ole+Miss+game+on+October+28%2C+2023.+%28Vanderbilt+Athletics%29
Kamrean Johnson warms up before the Ole Miss game on October 28, 2023. (Vanderbilt Athletics)

Editor’s note: Vanderbilt Athletics sponsored a trip to Oxford, Miss., for Staff Writer Henry Oelhafen, granting him on-site access to Vanderbilt’s game against Ole Miss for journalistic purposes.

In front of a raucous homecoming crowd in Oxford, Miss., the Vanderbilt Commodores fell to the No. 12 Ole Miss Rebels, 33-7. Vanderbilt lost its seventh consecutive game, moving to 2-7 on the season. Vanderbilt’s rush defense was unable to stop Ole Miss’ potent run game, led by star running back Quinshon Judkins, giving up 177 rushing yards. Vanderbilt’s offense was also in disarray for much of the game, generating only 229 total yards. 

“Well obviously we are disappointed,” head coach Clark Lea said. “We wanted to play better but we didn’t.”

Ole Miss won the toss and opted to receive to start the game. It was a quick start for the Rebels, as they marched 75 yards down the field to get on the board first. A 36-yard reception by Dayton Wade kickstarted the drive for Ole Miss before Judkins found paydirt.

Ken Seals looked to even the score, starting on the Vanderbilt 25-yard line. After two unsuccessful runs, Vanderbilt faced its first third down of the night. Unfortunately, Seals threw a pick, giving Ole Miss great field position on the Vanderbilt 11-yard line. The Commodores were able to get a stop, limiting the damage to only a field goal. Nevertheless, Vanderbilt was down 10-0 just five minutes into the first quarter. 

Vanderbilt looked to get some momentum on the next drive. Seals was able to use his legs on third down and pick up a much-needed first down near the Vanderbilt 35-yard line. Lea opted to go for it on 4th and 1 on their own 47-yard line and successfully moved the chains. However, Vanderbilt was unable to get into Ole Miss territory and opted to punt from its 49-yard line. 

Things could not have started worse for the Vanderbilt defense on the next drive. A massive 40-yard run by Judkins once again put the Rebels inside Vanderbilt territory. However, Langston Patterson was able to force a fumble on third-and-goal and push the Rebels back to the 33-yard line. Ole Miss made the 48-yard field goal, extending its lead to 13-0 to end the first quarter. 

The Vanderbilt offense continued to struggle as the Ole Miss defense forced a quick three-and-out. A 48-yard pass from Dart to Wade pushed the Rebels to Vanderbilt’s 8-yard line. The Rebels scored on a quarterback keeper on 4th and goal, and the home crowd roared as Vanderbilt went down 20-0. 

The Rebels’ defense once again shut down Vanderbilt’s offense on the next drive, forcing another three-and-out on the Commodores’ own 30-yard line. Punter Matthew Hayball dropped the snap and got tackled at the Vanderbilt 32-yard line, resulting in a turnover on downs. With the Ole Miss offense yet again back on the field, Dart delivered a 6-yard strike to Dayton and put the Rebels up 26-0 with 7:40 left in the second quarter. 

Lea opted to bench Seals and put in sophomore Walter Taylor. A rush of 15 yards on his first play was promising, however, Ole Miss was able to force a fourth down at midfield. After an unsuccessful fourth down attempt, the Ole Miss offense went right back to work. 

“We went to Walter to provide a spark,” Lea said. “I thought he was able to do that.”

The Rebels charged down the field, getting to the Vanderbilt 45-yard line. However, the Rebels’ plans to score before half were thwarted by Patterson. A fantastic interception at the Vanderbilt 30-yard line gave the Commodores the ball back with 30 seconds left in the second quarter, and Sedrick Alexander proceeded to run the clock out.

A year ago, Vanderbilt was up at halftime on Ole Miss in FirstBank stadium. Today was quite a different story. Vanderbilt had 82 total yards of offense while giving up 301 total yards to Ole Miss by halftime. They trailed by 26 and were shut out in the first half.

Vanderbilt started the second half with the ball. Taylor had two successful rushes to start the drive, putting the Commodores at midfield. Just as Taylor seemed to be gaining momentum for the Vanderbilt offense, he threw a costly pick while targeting McGowan, giving Ole Miss the ball just five minutes into the second half. 

Luckily, Vanderbilt was able to stop the Rebels on fourth down, getting the ball back on their own 35-yard line. 

Taylor stepped back onto the field, looking to get the Commodores on the board. Two successive rushes by Taylor led the Commodores past midfield. A deep strike to Junior Sherrill got the Commodores to the 6-yard line. Unfortunately, Taylor was sacked, backing them up to the 12-yard line. However, a holding penalty on the defense gave Vanderbilt a new set of downs. The Commodores looked poised to score on the 7-yard line. Walter Taylor waltzed into the endzone to give the Commodores their first points of the game. Vanderbilt trailed 26-7 with a minute left in the third quarter.

Ole Miss got the ball back, but Vanderbilt’s defense stepped up and forced a three-and-out, forcing a punt from their own 25-yard line. However, Taylor couldn’t move the offense downfield and was unsuccessful in a fourth down pass attempt, turning the ball over. 

Ole Miss scored on the next drive, with a 3-yard touchdown rush by Judkins, to go up by 26 in the middle of the 4th quarter. 

The Commodores attempted one final push to score late in the fourth quarter but failed to do so as Walter Taylor threw an incomplete pass intended for Justin Ball on fourth down. 

The Commodores fell to the Rebels 33-7. Vanderbilt struggled to generate any offense and Jackson Dart proved too much for an injury-depleted Vanderbilt secondary. 

In a rivalry matchup that dates back to 1894, Ole Miss will now move off Vanderbilt’s permanent rotation due to conference expansion, making this the last annual playing of the “Khaki Bowl.” 

“We reset and refocus and look for a better effort against Auburn in our last home game,” Lea said.

Vanderbilt (2-7) will be back in action next week as the Commodores return home to take on the Auburn Tigers on Saturday, Nov. 4, at 3 p.m. CDT.

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About the Contributor
Henry Oelhafen
Henry Oelhafen, Deputy Sports Editor
Henry Oelhafen (‘26) is a student in Peabody College majoring in human and organizational development and minoring in business. Henry grew up as a Vanderbilt sports fan and loves to talk about both professional and amateur golf. In addition to writing, he loves to play golf with friends, hike and try new restaurants. He can be reached at [email protected].
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