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Vanderbilt kicker Sarah Fuller makes history as first woman to play in a Power Five college football game

Vanderbilt kicker Sarah Fuller made history on Saturday when she kicked off at the start of the second half against Missouri, making her the first woman to play a snap in a Power Five college football game. Fuller, a starting goalkeeper on the Commodores’ SEC championship women’s soccer team, joined the football program this week after Vanderbilt lost multiple specialists due to COVID-19 issues.

Fuller’s squib kick was recovered by Missouri at its own 35-yard line.

“I just want to tell all the girls out there that you can do anything you set your mind to. You really can. If you have that mentality all the way through, you can do big things,” Fuller said after the game, a 41-0 loss for the Commodores.

“I think it’s amazing and incredible,” Fuller said Friday when it was determined she would dress and travel with Vanderbilt. “But I’m also trying to separate that because I know this is a job I need to do and I want to help the team out and I want to do the best that I can. Placing that historical aspect aside just helps me focus in on what I need to do. I don’t want to let them down in anyway. It’s an honor they called on me to be able to do this and help them out.”

Fuller joins Katie Hnida and April Goss as the only women to play in an FBS game. Hnida kicked two extra points for New Mexico against Texas State in 2003. She transferred to New Mexico from Colorado, where she did dress out but did not play in a game for the Buffaloes. Goss, who played at Kent State, kicked an extra point against Delaware State in 2015.

Four other women — Willamette’s Liz Heaton, Jacksonville State’s Ashley Martin, West Alabama’s Tonya Butler and Lebanon Valley’s Brittany Ryan — have also kicked in college football games at various levels ranging from NAIA to FCS. Heaton became the first woman to score in a college football game in 1997.

Fuller, a senior, had a wild week. She helped the Vanderbilt soccer team win the SEC Tournament last weekend when they topped Arkansas 3-1. It was the program’s first women’s SEC Tournament title since 1994.

Derek Mason, the Commodores’ football coach, explained the process of how Fuller joined the team.

“I reached out to [soccer coach] Darren Ambrose — me and Darren are extremely close. Our teams are close, to be honest. Just wanted to see how Sarah would actually work as an option,” he said earlier this week. “I had her out, had a chance to look at what she can do with the football. She’s really good with the soccer ball, seems to be really good with the football. We’ll see. She’s an option. we’ll keep all our options open. We’ll see what she can do on Saturday if given the opportunity.”

Fuller helped Vanderbilt’s soccer team make history last Sunday. Six days later, she did it again for the football program and women everywhere.

Author: Barrett Sallee / CBS Sports
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