The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

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 beaten by Auburn 31-15 on Homecoming

Vanderbilt’s Homecoming and Senior Day celebrations were dampened by a 31-15 loss to Auburn.
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Ophelia Lu
Vanderbilt’s line against Auburn on Nov. 4, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Ophelia Lu)

The Vanderbilt Commodores lost their final home game of 2023 in a 31-15 defeat to Auburn. It was Vanderbilt’s Homecoming game and final home game of the season. The Commodores went down early and didn’t do nearly enough on offense to get back in the game.

Vanderbilt’s quarterback tandem of Ken Seals and Walter Taylor did little to disrupt Auburn’s defense. Seals took the lion’s share of the snaps, and the duo combined for 166 passing yards with one touchdown and an interception. The rushing offense was weak as well, gaining just 100 yards on the ground.

Vanderbilt’s first drive under Seals started promising. The Commodores drove for 40 yards on mostly quick passes to Junior Sherrill and Sedrick Alexander. The momentum was stopped however, and the drive ended with a missed 43-yard field goal.

Auburn immediately responded with a 67-yard touchdown run by Jarquez Hunter that sliced through Vanderbilt on just Auburn’s second play of the game. After two unimpressive Vanderbilt drives, Auburn marched the ball down the field before another long run by Hunter put the Tigers up 14-0.

When it was looking dire for Vanderbilt, Bryce Cowan gave the Commodores a shot of life. In the second quarter, Cowan got a perfect read on the quarterback to intercept a pass on Auburn’s 5-yard line and walk it into the end zone to cut the deficit in half.

Late in the second quarter, Auburn put together a drive led by Payton Thorne to gain 45 yards and get to Vanderbilt’s 3-yard line. A penalty pushed the Tigers back, and Auburn eventually had to settle for a field goal. The third-down pass should’ve been intercepted by De’Rickey Wright, but he dropped the ball. Auburn went into halftime up 17-7.

The Commodore offense was underwhelming in the first half, with Matthew Hayball punting six times.

The score could have been worse as Will Sheppard muffed two punts. Luckily for the Commodores, the first was called for a debatable kick-catch interference penalty and the second was barely recovered by Vanderbilt. With all the drops by Vanderbilt’s secondary, receivers and special teams, only trailing by 10 seemed to flatter the Commodores.

The Tigers extended their lead early in the third quarter on a 53-yard pass to Rivaldo Fairweather that put Auburn up 24-7. That touchdown immediately followed a pass interference call on Wright that cost Vanderbilt 16 yards and a first down on an otherwise busted third-down play. Auburn added on minutes later with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Jeremiah Cobb that made it 31-7.

The Commodores’ only offensive touchdown of the game came with 2:43 left in the third quarter when Seals found Sherrill for a 30-yard score. Jayden McGowan ran it in for a two-point conversion to make it 31-15, putting Vanderbilt back within two scores.

Midway through the fourth quarter, the Commodores drove down the field again to the Auburn 10-yard line. Seals took a costly sack on first-and-goal, and Vanderbilt eventually chose to go for it on fourth down from the 14. Seals fell under pressure quickly and couldn’t find a receiver, turning the ball over on downs for what felt like the final nail in the coffin.

The Commodores had one more possession that ended in a Seals interception to Nehemiah Pritchett, allowing Auburn to run out the rest of the clock.

Vanderbilt will return to play on Saturday, Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. CST at South Carolina.

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About the Contributors
Frankie Sheehy
Frankie Sheehy, Former Deputy Sports Editor
Frankie Sheehy ('24) wrote for The Hustler Sports section and graduated from the College of Arts and Science with majors in economics and law, history and society. He was also the president of the Vanderbilt Chess Club and a superfan of the Chicago White Sox. You can reach him at [email protected].
Ophelia Lu
Ophelia Lu, Deputy Photography Editor
Ophelia Lu (’26) is from Los Angeles and is double majoring in biomedical and electrical engineering in the School of Engineering. She previously served as a staff photographer. When not covering events and sports games for The Hustler, you can find her listening to a lot of music, studying at Starbucks or lying on Alumni lawn. She can be reached at [email protected].
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