LEXINGTON, Va. - The #8 Wofford Terriers clinched the Southern Conference's automatic berth to the FCS playoffs with a 45-14 win over the VMI Keydets in SoCon football action, contested Saturday in Lexington, Va. The contest concluded the 2017 VMI football season.
Five different players scored Wofford's six touchdowns on a day that saw the Terriers (9-1, 7-1) take advantage of four VMI (0-11, 0-8) turnovers. Wofford turned those miscues into 21 points off turnovers on the way to its first league title since 2012.
Freshman Kris Thornton led VMI with 12 catches for 108 yards and two touchdowns, all career highs, while quarterback Reece Udinski went 24 of 40 for 207 yards and two scores in his first career start. Wofford's vaunted rushing attack was held to 158 yards on the ground, its second-lowest total of the season, but the Terriers threw for an uncharacteristic 137 yards through the air and five different players scored rushing touchdowns to take the victory.
It was Wofford that jumped out to a 21-0 lead late in the first half, thanks to rushing touchdowns by Blake Morgan, Lennox McAfee and Andre Stoddard. Udinski led a 12-play, 64-yard drive in the closing second of the half, however, and concluded it with a seven-yard TD pass to Thornton to close the gap to 21-7 at halftime.
The Terriers tacked on 10 more points in the first portions of the third quarter, and then on two straight VMI possessions, Wofford defenders stripped Keydet receivers after completed passes. Both plays led directly to Wofford touchdowns, the second of which was scored by Ostin McPherson less than two minutes into the fourth quarter to make it a 45-7 game.
Udinski threw a second touchdown pass to Thornton with 6:13 to go to wrap up the scoring, 45-14.
The game ended the Keydet careers of several seniors, a group led by linebackers Allan Cratsenberg and Ryan Francis, who finished their time at the Institute ranked third and fourth in school history in tackles.
QUOTES - VMI Head Coach Scott Wachenheim
"First of all, I want to congratulate Coach Ayers and the Wofford Terriers. I think Coach Ayers is the best coach in all of FCS football. What he has done with Wofford in building a program with class and sustaining a top-notch program is something I try to emulate. We study Wofford all the time. They have a tremendous offense, a tremendous defense and a tremendous kicking game. Their kids play with class and they’re deserving of their ranking."
"VMI is going to turn it around. We are going to have a winning season and it’s going to be because of the way these young men practice and fight in the face of adversity."
"It’s easy to see why we lost today. We turned the ball over and they did not. Wofford won the field position battle."
"We are a very young football team. This season we knew we were going to have some good moments but also moments where we would be inconsistent. We never got to a point where we could execute consistently offensively to win football games. Defensively we got better every week. Today was a tough day because we put our defense in short field situations. Our special teams were up and down during the year and we have areas we need to improve."
"I was very impressed with Reece Udinski today. He had a bit of a rough start but he got better and we had more confidence in him as the game went on. Kris Thornton had an awesome game. I’m really impressed with the way those two freshmen played."