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8 stages of this nonsense Vanderbilt-Notre Dame play, which turned out to matter

A blow-by-blow of a weird, consequential sequence.

A collage.
NBC

Notre Dame beat Vanderbilt on Saturday in South Bend, 22-17. The Commodores gave the Irish a late charge before falling short on a potential game-winning drive.

Now, presenting this complete mess of a play from the second quarter:

In the official play log, nothing here looks all that weird:

Shurmur,Kyle pass complete to Tennyson, Donaven for 20 yards to the ND1, fumble forced by GILMAN, Alohi, fumble by Tennyson, Donaven recovered by ND LOVE, Julian at ND0, touchback.

A fumble at the 1, recovered by the defense in the end zone, leading to a touchback. Fine. But this is why sometimes you have to watch the sport and not read a play-by-play list.

Let’s run through the various stages of this wreck.

1. The pitch and catch. Nothing’s wrong when Kyle Shurmur finds Donaven Tennyson in the middle of the field, about 2.5 yards in front of the Notre Dame end zone.

2. The struggle. Everything’s reasonably OK here, too. Tennyson still has the biscuit.

3. The volcanic eruption of a fumble is where things start to go left. Irish safety Alohi Gilman basically crowbars the ball out of Tennyson’s arms and shoots it skyward.

4. The jumpball.

Notre Dame never was known for its rebounding. The Irish have always been more of a three-point-shooting team anyway.

5. The brief moment where a Vanderbilt player appears poised to score a touchdown anyway, and maybe things will be OK for the Dores:

6. Except, well ...

7. Damn, he’s almost got it.

8. Nope.

And that’s a touchback, courtesy of the Irish’s Julian Love.

The Notre Dame recovery was an immediate 7-point turnaround. The Irish went on to win by 5.

(Notre Dame also got a field goal on the drive following the touchback, but that required an 80-yard drive, so let’s keep it at a 7-point swing.)

I am sorry for pointing this out, Vanderbilt.