OXFORD, Miss. — For a half, Vanderbilt was right there in the thick of it on the road in SEC play.
The Commodores had recovered defensively and found some offensive momentum going into halftime at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium at Ole Miss. But then two big, back-breaking runs by the Rebels in the third quarter changed everything.
Now Vandy (1-4, 0-3 SEC) comes back home once again looking to regroup after a 31-6 loss.
“This game comes down to making plays – and we didn’t make enough. They made their fair share,” Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason said.
Ole Miss led 10-6 at the break after the home team had raced out to a 10-0 lead. The story, however, was Vanderbilt persistence and perseverance to hang around.
Ryley Guay kicked a 43-yard field goal as time expired in the first half to make it a four-point game. Tight end Ben Bresnahan made a key, diving catch at the 25 to set that score up which helped give life to the visitors.
Another look at Ben Bresnahan’s diving catch that led to the last-second field goal for Vanderbilt pic.twitter.com/dG58LqGMBs
— Chad Bishop (@MrChadBishop) October 6, 2019
The Commodores had also stopped the Rebels five out of six times on third down and twice on fourth down in the first half. When the two teams returned for the final two quarters most of the home fans had not.
“I thought defense fought hard in the first half,” Mason said. “We really couldn’t create a lot offensively, but I really thought gave us a chance was being able to get the field goal right before half.
“I thought was momentum. And we needed to come out and score on that first drive and you don’t get it. Then all of a sudden you find yourself leaking.”
Vandy got the ball to start the second half and had the opportunity to really change the course of the discourse. Instead, after a punt, Ole Miss woke up.
First it was Jerrion Ealy taking one 78 yards to the house.
Then Snoop Conner broke off an 84-yard jaunt after being bottled up on 3rd-and-2. In six short minutes it was 24-6.
“Coming out from the half, when I feel like we had the momentum swing, they performed those runs and that’s something where we try to stay in the middle and be indifferent,” Vanderbilt linebacker Andre Mintze, who had two sacks, said. “To anyone it takes a tough toll.”
The Commodores tried to get something going in the fourth quarter by changing quarterbacks, going from starter Riley Neal to backup Deuce Wallace, but it was to no avail. Star running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn was held in check as well to the tune of 69 yards on 18 attempts.
Vandy was also 2-for-17 on third down.
Ole Miss (3-3, 2-1 SEC) would end up running for 415 yards on 43 carries. Scottie Phillips added a 24-yard touchdown to provide the final margin.
Vanderbilt returns home at 3 p.m. next Saturday to host UNLV.
“When you look at this ball club, there’s seven games left. This group is capable of doing exactly what it wants to do. They got to make a choice and they got to make a decision. And for me the decision is easy – we got to go.”
• Vandy now trails the series against Ole Miss 40-52-2 dating to 1894.
• The Commodores are now 6-25 at Mississippi.
• Vandy is now 8-7 against Ole Miss since 2005.
• Vanderbilt last won in Oxford in 2012.
• The Commodores, who beat Ole Miss in 2018, last won back-to-back games against Mississippi when they won three in a row from 2010-12.
• Vanderbilt senior Kalija Lipscomb is now tied for fifth (Dan Stircker) in Vanderbilt history with 182 career receptions.
• Attendance on Saturday was announced as 47,601.