JOHNSON CITY, Tenn.- Back-to-back touchdown drives by East Tennessee State in the second half broke open a close game as the Bucs posted a 24-6 win over VMI Saturday afternoon at William B. Greene, Jr. Stadium. The Bucs, playing their final home game of 2017, moved 4-5 overall and 2-4 in the Southern Conference.
ETSU outgained VMI, 259-179 and was led on the ground by Fallon Lee with 93 yards and Jajuan Stinson with 38 yards and each scored on touchdown runs in the second half.
After a missed field goal try on VMI’s opening drive of the game, the Bucs opened the scoring on a 33-yard field goal by J.J. Jerman. ETSU quarterback Austin Herink connected on a 42-yard pass play to Drake Powell to spark the possession, but a tackle-for-loss by VMI outside linebacker Brian Lipscomb helped force the Bucs to settle for the field goal.
Late in the first quarter, ETSU linebacker Nasir Player took a deflected pass from quarterback Duncan Hodges back four yards for a interception TD return and extended the home team lead to 10-0 with :39 remaining in the first quarter.
VMI’s defense helped produce the first Keydet points of the game when Lipscomb forced a fumble that was returned 37 yards by linebacker Ryan Francis to the ETSU 19. Kicker Grant Clemons knocked through a 20-yard field goal on the last play of the half and the Keydets trailed 10-3 at the break.
Clemons added a 35-yard field goal on VMI’s first drive of the second half to pull the Keydets within 10-6 at the 12:35 mark of the third quarter. The drive was aided by a low snap that prevented the Bucs from punting on their first possession and gave the Keydets the ball at the ETSU 14.
That would be as close as the Keydets would get as ETSU engineered an 11-play, 66-yard drive capped by a one-yard TD run by Fallon with :43 left in the third quarter. The drive was aided by a roughing the passer penalty assessed against the Keydets on an incomplete pass.
ETSU added a two-yard TD run by Stinson at the 10:12 mark of the final period as the Bucs took advantage of three defensive pass interference calls to cap the game scoring.
VMI, which entered the game as the least penalized team in FCS, was flagged eight times for 75 yards on the afternoon.
Hodges started the game at quarterback before giving way to freshman Reece Udinski who completed 14 of 27 passes for 105 yards.
Francis led the Keydets in tackles with 17 stops and logged his 22nd double-digit tackle game for his career. With 11 tackles against ETSU, Keydet linebacker Allan Cratsenberg became the third VMI defender in school history to surpass the 400-tackle threshold.
VMI (0-10, 0-7 SoCon) closes out the 2017 season next week in Lexington against Wofford. Kickoff at Foster Stadium will be 1:30 p.m.