LEXINGTON, Va. - The 19th-ranked Western Carolina Catamounts scored the final 26 points of the game on the way to a 26-7 win over the VMI Keydets in SoCon football action Saturday at Foster Stadium in Lexington.
VMI (0-8, 0-5 SoCon) jumped ahead with a touchdown late in the first quarter, scoring first for the third time in its last four games, but WCU (6-2, 4-1) took advantage of a Duncan Hodges interception midway through the second quarter to drive for a touchdown and take the lead for good. The Catamounts led 13-7 at halftime and held the ball for over 20 minutes in the second half to preserve the victory.
In the setback, VMI was led by Allan Cratsenberg's 18 tackles. The effort moved him to within 10 of Melvin Rucker '83's 399 tackles, a total that ranks third in school history. Cratsenberg was just two tackles shy of becoming the third player in school history with multiple games of at least 20 tackles.
He added his team-leading third interception as well as part of a defensive effort that held WCU to its second-lowest rushing total of the season (191 yards) and had 10 tackles for loss, the most by the Keydets since posting 11 last year against ETSU.
WCU was paced by Tyrie Adams, as the Catamount quarterback ran for 70 yards and threw for 195 and a score on a day where he was 20 for 33 through the air. Terryon Robinson, his top receiver, grabbed nine passes for 91 yards and the touchdown.
After a dramatic first quarter that featured a game-opening onside kick by the Keydets, which they recovered, and a VMI fumble on a field goal snap that led to a failed fake attempt, the Keydets finally broke through late in the first quarter. They drove 70 yards on 11 plays, with seven of the plays being runs. Hodges wrapped it with a one-yard sneak to put the home team up, 7-0.
WCU answered on its next drive with a 17-play, 69-yard effort, but the Keydet defense held in the red zone and forced a 22-yard field goal to cut the margin to 7-3. WCU took the lead for good less than three minutes later, as on the fifth play of VMI's next possession, Hodges was intercepted by Tre Hardy to give the visitors a short field. It took just four plays for Adams to find Robinson for a 29-yard score, making it 10-7.
A field goal as the first half clock ran out made it 13-7 at the break.
Western tacked on two more second half field goals, and wrapped up the scoring with a two-yard touchdown run by Corey Holloway that accounted for the final margin, 26-7.
VMI football will return to action next Saturday, when the Keydets travel to Charleston, S.C. to take on The Citadel. Kickoff in the Military Classic of the South is set for 2 p.m.
QUOTES - VMI Head Coach Scott Wachenheim
"Western Carolina is very deserving of its No. 19 ranking. They have an outstanding football team and an excellent football coach in Mark Speir. Tyrie Adams is one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in FCS football. Defensively, they have made a huge improvement under their new coordinator John Wiley and they play seven seniors and four juniors. They play hard and make it difficult for an offense to play consistently."
"I’m proud of the way our defense played. They played hard, they got after it, and kept us in the ballgame and gave us a chance to win the game. We made 10 stops on 18 third down plays so I’m proud of the way our defense played. In the red zone we played tough and limited them to field goal opportunities."
"In the first half our offense played extremely well. We snapped the ball 38 times and were making first downs. We were winning the time of possession battle and running and throwing the ball pretty well. In the second half we were not executing quite as well and we left our defense out on the field way too much."
"On special teams, Bill Hogan did a nice job with two punts inside the 20 and we did a nice job in punt coverage."
"I’m proud of the team. They continue to practice hard and they continue to play hard. It’s an honor to be their head football coach. We’re looking forward to another great week of practice and preparing for The Citadel for the Battle of the Silver Shako."