CHARLESTON, S.C. – Utilizing efficient passing and scampering for over 300 yards rushing, the Charleston Southern University Buccaneers knocked off the Virginia Military Institute football team Saturday afternoon 32-14.
Charleston Southern (2-4, 1-1 Big South Conference) rushed for 307 yards on 66 attempts, averaging 4.7 yards per carry. The Buccaneers only threw the ball seven times, but four of those passes were for touchdowns at Buccaneer Field. Gabriel Johnson led the day in rushing, covering 63 yards on 15 carries. Through the air, Malcolm Dixon went five-for-six, including three of Charleston Southern’s touchdowns. Chase Jones accounted for the other passing score, throwing a 51-yard pass.
For the Keydets (2-4, 1-1 BSC), Eric Kordenbrock threw for 113 yards, completing 15 of his 33 attempts. On the ground, Jabari Turner ran for 55 yards on 13 carries, scoring VMI’s only offensive touchdown on the day. Derrick Ziglar ran for 22 yards on just five carries, picking up 4.4 yards a run.
Using the option, Charleston Southern collected 24 first downs while VMI grabbed 15. The Buccaneers amassed 447 yards on the ground. Both teams fumbled the ball twice, but the Keydets capitalized on a Charleston Southern miscue as John Washington collected a loose ball and ran for a 70-yard touchdown on the fumble recovery with less than two minutes left in the game.
Time of possession was crucial in the game, but after controlling the ball for just over 25 minutes, the Keydets offensive chances were limited in the contest.
In the punting game, VMI’s David Eberhardt covered 139 yards on four tries, averaging 34.8 yard a kick. Place kicker Jeff Sexton took just one field goal attempt, missing the 37-yard try in the second quarter.
Charleston Southern opened up the game by scoring on their first two possessions. The Bucs took the opening drive and moved 67 yards in eight plays - the first seven on the ground before Dixon found Zachary Frazier on an underneath crossing route that turned into a 15-yard score. The extra point was missed and CSU held a 6-0 advantage with 11:53 to go in the opening period.
VMI fumbled away the ball on its first drive when Kordenbrock was sacked and lost the ball at the Keydet 21, but the defense turned aside the Buc offense and held them on a fourth-and-13 conversion attempt at the 31-yard line following two consecutive negative rushing plays. The Keydets moved out to their own 45, but were forced to punt to the CSU 35.
The Bucs covered 65 yards on 11 plays on their second drive capped by a Dixon 31-yard touchdown pass to Jones III on a play that continued after flags were dropped at the snap because of defensive offsides. CSU capitalized on the free play and also converted two fourth downs on the possession including a fake punt that resulted in a first down at the VMI 48. The extra point was good and CSU held a 13-0 lead with 1:57 remaining in the opening quarter.
The Keydets answered with a three-yard touchdown run by Jabari Turner that culminated a 10-play, 69-yard scoring possession that consumed 5:29 off the first half clock. Turner, who collected his third rushing TD of the year, carried the bulk of rushing yards with 32 coming on six carries. Jeff Sexton's extra point was good and VMI trailed, 13-7 with 11:28 left in the second quarter.
VMI squandered a scoring opportunity later in the quarter when Sexton's 37-yard field goal attempt missed wide left after the Keydets had moved to the CSU 19 with 6:26 remaining in the half.
The Buccaneers got a jolt of momentum before halftime when a halfback option pass from the CSU 49 from Chase Jones to Larry Jones III resulted in a deflating score against the Keydets. At the VMI 15, Jones III made a leaping one-handed grab and separated from VMI cornerback Mike Smith who was called for defensive interference on the play. But the Jones III snag made the flag inconsequential when he raced the remaining yardage for the TD and the missed extra point gave CSU a 19-7 lead with 36 seconds before halftime.
VMI took possession to open the second half at its own 15 and was forced to punt from its own 35 after running five snaps. Following an Eberhardt punt to the CSU 24, the Buc offense engineered a nine-play 76-yard scoring drive capped by quarterback Teddy Allen's two-yard keeper. The drive, except for a an 18-yard pass to tight end Nathan Prater to the VMI 29, consisted entirely of running plays.
After a three-and-out on VMI's ensuing drive, the Bucs assembled their final scoring drive of the day when Dixon scrambled out of the pocket but found wide receiver Charles Theodore in the right corner of the end zone. The extra point was good and the Bucs led 32-7 with 4:24 left in the third quarter.
VMI's second half points came on a 70-yard fumble recovery scoop and run down the left sideline by tackle John Washington with 11:26 left in the fourth quarter.
The Keydets return home next Saturday to face Coastal Carolina at Foster Stadium on Parents Weekend. Kickoff is 1:30 p.m. and tickets may be ordered at vmitickets.com or by calling 540-464-7266.
Head Coach Sparky Woods -
"We're obviously disappointed, credit Charleston Southern - they played well on the line of scrimmage - we had trouble blocking them. They came up and challenged us and pressed us at the corners and came after us early. I thought defensively we weren't able to get off the field and offensively we weren't able to sustain drives."
"Overall, we just didn't put together plays back-to-back. We have to stay closer in the game, and we've got to not lose opportunities. I thought we would play better than we did today. I don't think it was a lack of effort - they did try hard, but trying hard and playing well are two different things."
Notes - Junior quarterback Eric Kordenbrock moved into the #4 spot on the VMI career completion list with 343 and passed former Keydet QB's Al Lester (1994-97) and Al Comer (1983-85).