ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The VMI Keydets opened the scoring with a first quarter field goal, but the Navy Midshipmen scored 41 unanswered points and went on to defeat the Keydets, 41-3, in football action Saturday afternoon at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis, Md.
Jeff Sexton got the Keydets on the board in the first quarter, drilling a 42-yard field goal at the 8:29 mark to make it a 3-0 contest. The kick was the second-longest field goal of Sexton's career. Navy could only muster three points of their own in the opening period, and after one quarter, the game was tied, 3-3.
The Mids, however, scored 10 points late in the second quarter, had a 20-3 lead after three periods and notched three fourth-quarter touchdowns to pull away for the eventual 41-3 win.
VMI saw running back Jabari Turner run for 67 yards and post 38 yards receiving on a team-high six catches, while Navy's ground game accounted for 403 yards, including 126 from Noah Copeland and 116 from quarterback Trey Miller, who ran for three touchdowns on the day.
Despite Miller's eventual numbers, he coughed up a fumble on the game's opening possession. Chris Harper recovered, and the Keydets showed some steely nerves in their first possession.
VMI quarterback Eric Kordenbrock led the team 41 yards in 10 plays after the Navy miscue, with first down passes to H.L. Temoney and Turner opening the drive. On third down and 22, Kordenbrock then hooked up with Aaron Lewis on a 17-yard reception, setting up Sexton's 42-yard field goal and a 3-0 Keydet lead with 8:29 left in the opening period.
On the next drive, the Mids drove 82 yards down the field, but the Keydet defense held strong on several Navy plays inside the 10 yard line. Harper and Weston Reber got the big hit of the drive, stopping Miller on a third and goal run and forcing a field goal try. The kick from Nick Sloan was good, knotting the score, 3-3.
A.J. Augustine relieved Kordenbrock on the next VMI possession, after the Keydet starter was hit hard by a Navy lineman and removed from the game. He would return later on, but the Keydets were forced to punt on that possession. A 40-yard return and a holding penalty put Navy inside the VMI 15, but one play later, William Hyman forced Miller's second fumble of the day. Staib fell on the ball and the quarter ended with the score tied, 3-3.
Midway through the second quarter, the Midshipmen jumped out to a 10-3 lead on a seven-yard touchdown run by Miller. The Navy QB had converted a 3rd-and-7 with an 11-yard completion, and a roughing the passer penalty was tacked on to those 11 yards as well.
On the ensuing play, Navy’s Gee Gee Greene scampered for 36 yards, the longest play of the season to date for the home team. Miller took the ball into the endzone on the next play, and with 3:12 left in the half, Navy had its first lead of the day, 10-3.
The Mids capped the first half with a nine-play, 39-yard drive over a two minute span. Sloan hit a 35-yard field goal to conclude the first half scoring, and send the game to halftime with his team up, 13-3.
VMI had been outgained 257-110 in the first half, but had taken full advantage of three Navy fumbles, including two recovered by the Keydets.
VMI took the ball first in the second half, and Augustine led the Keydets to two first downs, doing so on a 20-yard pass to Stefawn Ross and a 22-yard quarterback rush. VMI drove to the Navy 30, but could not convert a fourth down try.
Navy got back on the board at the tail end of the third quarter, as Miller drove his team 66 yards in eight plays and capped the drive himself, plunging in from one yard out to give Navy a 20-3 lead. That would be the score heading to the fourth quarter.
After a 27-yard Miller to Greene completion ended the third period, the Navy QB ran 40 yards for a touchdown on the third play of the fourth quarter, pushing the Mids’ lead to 27-3.
The teams then exchanged possessions, with the Keydets taking the ball on their own 2 with 8:18 to go. VMI tried a pair of runs, with Derrick Ziglar just getting clear of the goal line to avoid the safety. However, on third and 11, Kordenbrock was picked off by Matt Warrick, who ran the interception back for a seven-yard return for a score, putting Navy up 34-3.
A Maika Polamalu 21-yard touchdown run at the 3:08 mark capped the scoring, and accounted for the final margin of 41-3.
Navy accounted for 510 total yards, including 403 rushing yards as the home team averaged nearly eight (7.9) yards per carry. For VMI, Turner's six catches marked a career high.
Following an off week, VMI returns to Lexington on Oct. 6 as it hosts the Blue Hose of Presbyterian College in the 2012 Big South Conference opener at Foster Stadium. Game time is set for 1:30 p.m., and the game can be seen on ESPN3.com.