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Sarah Fuller Makes History As 1st Woman To Play In A Power 5 Football Game

Sarah Fuller of the Vanderbilt Commodores kicks off Saturday in the second half against the University of Missouri Tigers at Memorial Stadium in Columbia, Mo.
Hunter Dyke
Mizzou Athletics via Getty Images
Sarah Fuller of the Vanderbilt Commodores kicks off Saturday in the second half against the University of Missouri Tigers at Memorial Stadium in Columbia, Mo.

Updated at 4:38 p.m. ET

Sarah Fuller has made history as the first woman to play in a Power Five college football game.

The Vanderbilt University senior made her historic debut as a kicker for the Commodores in their faceoff Saturday against the University of Missouri Tigers. She kicked off for the Commodores to start the second half, making her the first woman to see game-time action in a Power Five football game.

The Power Five consists of the biggest and most popular athletic conferences: the Southeastern Conference, Atlantic Coast Conference, Big Ten Conference, Big 12 Conference and Pac-12 Conference.

Fuller joined the football team's roster after practicing with them earlier this week, The Vanderbilt Hustlerreported. The decision to add her to the ranks reportedly came after several team specialists entered quarantines related to COVID-19.

Although it was her first time playing for the football team, Fuller is no stranger to Vanderbilt sports. The Wylie, Texas, native made her first start as the goalkeeper for the Vanderbilt women's soccer team on Oct. 11. On Sunday, she made three saves in a game against the University of Arkansas that won her team the SEC Tournament Championship title — its first since 1994.

Fuller's historic kickoff in the third quarter of Saturday's game sent the ball 30 yards to the opposing team's 35-yard line. Missouri did not return the kick. Despite Fuller making college football history, Vanderbilt was crushed by Missouri, losing the game 0-41.

Fuller is just the third woman to play in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision, after Katie Hnida of New Mexico and April Goss of Kent State, according to ESPN.Liz Heaston was the first woman to play — and score — in a college football game, kicking two extra points that helped lead Willamette University to victory against Linfield College on Oct. 18, 1997.

In a Twitter post on Friday night, Fuller made clear that she knew she was breaking barriers, writing, "Let's make history."

In another nod to breaking barriers, her helmet during Saturday's game had "Play Like a Girl" written on the back. Play Like a Girl is a nonprofit that encourages girls to participate in sports as well as science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM.

Twitter users said they tuned in to Saturday's game just to watch Fuller make history.

Fuller also received support from American tennis player Billie Jean King, who wrote in a Twitter post that "women belong in the game."

King made headlines in 1973 when she defeated former men's tennis champion Bobby Riggs in the match billed as the "Battle of the Sexes."

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Lydia Massey
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