Behind a superb effort by the entire team in all phases of the game, the Vanderbilt Commodores moved to 5-6 overall on the season and 2-5 in the SEC with a thrilling and wild 36-29 victory over the Ole Miss Rebels before an enthusiastic, supportive crowd of 24, 866 at Vanderbilt Stadium.
It was a game of massive twists and turns. Ole Miss moved out to a 13-0 lead, but a 46 yard field goal by kicker Ryley Guay and a tremendous clutch blocked punt by freshman stud safety Maxwell Worship which led to a safety as the ball went out of the end zone with Ole Miss punting from their own 29 cut the score to 13-5. A TD before halftime cut it to 13-12.
Then, in the second half, Kyle Shurmur, Ke’Shawn Vaughn, Kalija Lipscomb and Jared Pinkney went to work. And the defense, behind the play of the awesome Joejuan Williams, the great LaDarius Wiley, and stud linebackers Jordan Griffin and Dimitri Moore kept the high powered Rebels offense out of the end zone enough to claim the victory.
The Rebels Luke Logan kicked a 32 yard field goal with 40 seconds left to tie the game at 29 and send it into overtime. We got the ball first as Ole Miss won the coin toss and elected to go on defense as is typical for teams that win the coin flip. After a rush of a yard on the first play in OT, Ke’Shawn, who rushed for 127 yards and a 7, ran it up the middle for 19 yards to the Ole Miss 5 yard line. From there, Kyle connected with Kalija for a TD that, along with the extra point, put us ahead, 36-29. The only problem, and this was a problem, was Kalija was called for unsportsmanlike conduct, an excessive celebration penalty, for throwing the ball in the air after scoring. It could have gone either way, didn’t seem totally out of line, but we had to respect the call, and the Ole Miss offense and quarterback Jordan Ta’amu had the ball at our 12 for their possession.
It even got more interesting. Ole Miss ran it to the 8. On the next play, Ta’amu, who threw for 457 yards and 2 TDs, but was picked off twice, threw it up for the awesome A.J, Brown. Brown leapt in the air and pulled down the ball for an apparent TD. But as he hit the ground, the ball came loose as cornerback Randall Haynie pulled it away from him. The referees called it a TD, but upon review, they ruled that it was an incomplete pass ruling that Brown did not possess the ball through the catch. It could very well have been an interception, and quite honestly, I thought Randall had it with his shoulders in bounds before his feet touched the out of bounds line. I definitely agreed with the officials’ call. I think it’s paramount that an FBS receiver and an NFL receiver should be required to complete catches. I’ve never understood why there is any controversy to that rule. They’re big time players, they should be able to complete catches. If they don’t, they shouldn’t get the benefit of the call. It was called incomplete, which was accurate, though I thought Randall had intercepted it.
On fourth down. Ta’amu threw it for Ole Miss’s other stud receiver DeMarkus Lodge, who had an amazing reception for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, but Joejuan came up clutchly, knocking down the pass and preserving the victory.
There were some highly impressive individual performances on both sides. Joejuan and LaDarius both pulled off key interceptions. Our great linebackers, Dimitri Moore and Jordan Griffin, who is second in the SEC in tackles with 106 to Arkansas linebacker De”Jon Harris, who has 110, each led us in tackles with 8. Sophomore defensive end Dayo Odeyingbo had 2 tackles for loss and 2 sacks. Dayo can be a dominant player for us against Tennessee, and, hopefully, in the postseason and in the upcoming years. Would like to see older brother Dare, a senior, have a big game against Tennessee.
On offense, Kyle completed 22 of 34 passes for 191 yards, 3 TDs and 1 int. Ke’Shawn ran for a buck 27 and a 7. Super tight end Jared Pinkney caught 6 passes for 85 yards, and Kalija caught 7 passes for 69 yards and a pair of TDs. Freshman C.J. Bolar caught Kyle’s other TD throw of 6 yards.
Kyle set the all time TD passing mark at Vanderbilt with 60 surpassing Jay Cut with his 5 yard strike to Kalija in overtime.
We gave up 457 passing yards to Ta’amu and 2 TDs and 107 yards rushing to running back Isaiah Wollard, and 587 yards of total offense, but we were pretty tough in the red zone and came up with some key plays there. Ole Miss is a high octane offense, so they’re going to pile up the yards. We came through when we needed to on defense. Some things to work on defensively for sure, but the effort was superb.
Ke’Shawn is third in the conference in rushing with 976 yards. A&M’s Trayveon Williams leads with 1,326 and KY’s Benny Snell is second with 1,205. Kalija is 4th in the SEC in receiving yards at 800, A.J. Brown of Ole Miss leads at 1,259. Kalija is second in receiving TDs with 9 just behind Jerry Jeudy of Alabama who has 10. Ke’Shawn is tied for 1st in TDs with Benny Snell at 12. Ke’Shawn has 10 on the ground and 2 TD receptions. Joejuan, who has been sensational this season, is second in the conference in interceptions with 4. Grant Delpit of LSU leads with 5, so a big game from Joejuan next week with 2 ints and none by Delpit and Joejuan will be the SEC 2018 leader in ints. Jared Pinkney is having a superb year as well as he’s caught 41 passes for 658 yards, over 16 yards per catch and 6 TDs.
So phenomenal overall victory for the team, and we head into Saturday’s matchup with the team from the East hoping to win one more, move to 6-6, and qualify for a bowl game, which would be a tremendous reward for the seniors, the underclassmen, who can get many more days of practice time in, and for recruiting. Going to a bowl game is a huge boost to recruiting. We’ve got a tough matchup Saturday, though. We need to be totally homed in on UT at 3 PM CT on the SEC Network.
We have 18 commitments for the 2019 class. One of our headliners is safety Anfernee Orji, a 4 star and high 4 star freshman linebacker Alston Orji’s little brother. We’ve got some excellent 3 stars in 5.7 defensive tackle Daevion Davis (6’2”, 314), 3 tight ends, a couple of offensive linemen and some exciting players on the perimeter. We have a quarterback in this class, 5.5, 3 star Jamil Muhammad, who is 6’2”, 214 pounds and is from James Clemons High School in Madison, AL. Jamil had an excellent year behind center and James Clemons came very close to knocking off Alabama powerhouse Hewitt-Trussville in the first round of the Alabama Class 7A playoffs, falling 43-41 in the last minute. Jamil completed 7 of 9 passes for 96 yards including a 37 yard TD pass, and ran 20 times for 191 yards. He’s quite a dual threat. We have 2 excellent running back commits in Delbert Mimms and JR Tran-Reno. Like our playmakers we’re getting on the outside. Very explosive, take it to the house guys, with superior speed and super hands.
Just looks like a very solid class, and we had a big recruiting weekend with Ole Miss in town and should add more in the upcoming weeks. The early signing period is Wednesday, December 19th to Friday, December 21st. Hopefully, we can get all of these guys signed and add some more.
Just received this news, Dayo Odeyingbo was named SEC defensive lineman of the week. Great job by Dayo. Also, and I shouldn’t have forgotten this, our offensive line played very well. Justin Skule, Bruno Reagan and company opened up some excellent holes for Ke’Shawn, Jamauri Wakefield, who also had a very good game, and our runners and gave Kyle good time in the pocket. Well done up front by a group that has become outstanding as the season has progressed. Coach Cameron Norcross deserves a lot of credit as do the players.
Finally, and as importantly, awesome job by Coach Mason and the coaches for keeping our players locked in through some tough losses this year. Just need one more and it’s a tremendously important one.
Our basketball team moved to 3-0 on the season with a 79-54 victory over Alcorn State last Friday Night. Superstar 6’8”, 240 freshman power forward Simi Shittu finished with 20 points on 9-of-11 shooting from the field and 2-of-3 from the line. Senior Joe Toye, who is playing very good basketball for us now, added 14 with 4 boards. Simi had 6 boards. Matt Ryan was 4-of-7 from trifecta and finished with 12 points. Darius Garland only had 3 points, but pulled down 7 boards. Our other freshman superstar, Aaron Nesmith, finished with 7 points, but also pulled down 7 boards. And newcomer, and recent Syracuse transfer Matthew Moyer, a 6’8”, 215 forward, finished with 5 points and 8 boards.
Our team is playing well right now. Still think we are working on peaking, but we’ve only played 3 games. We’re still getting used to playing together with some young guys and some transfer players looking to jell. Like our talented roster though and see us having a great shot of playing well into March.
We host Liberty tonight, which is 3-0, and coming off a 77-70 victory over Kent State. Game time is 7 PM CT on SEC Network+. We signed 2 players for 2019, 4 star forward Dylan Disu from Texas. Dylan is 6’8”, 185. We also signed sharpshooting guard, 4 star Austin Crowley from Wichita, Kansas. Two excellent pickups by Bryce and the staff. Big man James Wiseman, the No.2 player in the country at 7’0”, 265 pounds, will be announcing tomorrow. We’re in it, but Memphis and Kentucky are the leaders. If we don’t get Wiseman, we’ll look some other directions. Plenty of outstanding players out there.
Like what this team can become. Just need to get more consistent on both ends of the floor. Simi and Darius are terrific players, and the players around them are very good, so we’ve got a shot to do some serious damage in the regular season AND the postseason. After Liberty tonight at home, we play Kent State Friday at Memorial at 4 PM CT on SEC Network+, then Savannah State comes to Memorial on Tuesday, November 27th for a 7 PM tip on SEC Network+. Then we’ll have a huge matchup on December 1st, a Saturday, versus a very good N.C. State team in the Hoophall Miami Invitational at 4 PM CT on ESPN2.
So some super stuff ahead for football and basketball.
Our women’s soccer team lost to Baylor 3-1 in the second round of the NCAA’s, but had an awesome season finishing 16-4-1 and winning the SEC regular season. It was a special year and we’re getting closer and closer to having a spectacular season/seasons under superb head coach Darren Ambrose.