Sarah Fuller made history as the first woman to play football for a Power 5 school. But because she did it for Vanderbilt, she had to wait a while to do it.
Fuller was added to the Vanderbilt football roster after winning an SEC soccer championship, which makes her immediately the most accomplished athlete on that football roster. The goalkeeper got to see firsthand what Commodores football is all about from the sideline namely, that Vanderbilt kicker is the loneliest job in the SEC.
The Commodores got the ball first at Missouri, advanced to their own 44-yard line, and had back-to-back runs for no gain on 3rd-and-1 and 4th-and-1, turning the ball over on downs.
The next five Vandy possessions? Punt, punt, punt, punt, punt. Meanwhile, Missouri scored three touchdowns to take a 21-0 halftime lead and ensure that the only intrigue in the game — not that there was much else before, what with Missouri at 3-3 and Vanderbilt at 0-7 — was Fuller, and whether she’d get to kick anything other than the opening kickoff of the second half.
It was that kick that allowed Fuller to make her debut, and she pooched an angled kickoff to the Missouri 35, on what appeared to be a designed play to resemble a soccer goalie’s pass out to a midfielder, while also ensuring that someone with no football experience wouldn’t be exposed to a bunch of hitting and blocking.
Fuller headed back to the sideline and resumed the solitary life of a Commodores placekicker. Vanderbilt’s second-half possessions ended with a fumble, a punt, a turnover on downs, and another punt. The Commodores did have a successful fake punt when it was 34-0, but they never got close enough to even think about having Fuller try a field goal. The final was 41-0 as Vanderbilt fell to 0-8 on the season.
Not that Harrison Smith did a bad job punting — he averaged 43.3 yards on his seven boots, with four inside the Mizzou 20 — but it would be a lot easier to make history if Vanderbilt scoured the women’s rugby team to find a punter.