CHARLESTON, S.C. - After the VMI Keydets took a 10-7 lead into halftime, the Citadel Bulldogs scored all 24 of the game's second half points en route to a 31-10 win in the Military Classic of the South, contested Saturday at Johnson-Hagood Stadium in Charleston, S.C.
After Citadel (5-6) had kicked a field goal early in the third quarter to knot the score, 10-10, the Keydets (2-9) got the ball back late in the period but had the drive stall on downs at The Citadel 13. The Bulldogs scored on their next three drives to take the 21-point lead that would eventually prove to be the final margin.
Both teams opened the game with lengthy drives but no points to show for it.
The Keydets took the opening kickoff from their own 37 and crossed midfield on a Derrick Ziglar rush of 11 yards to The Citadel 40. A third down conversion pass to James Rogers for 10 yards moved it to the 28. The Bulldog defense stiffened and VMI attempted a 41-yard field goal, but freshman kicker Dillion Christopher missed wide left leaving an 11-play 39-yard drive empty-handed.
The Bulldogs saw a similar fate on their first drive when a 22-yard rush by fullback Darrien Robinson to the VMI 3 put the The Citadel in prime position for the game's first score. The Bulldogs could not punch it in following a muffed handoff exchange, a no gain rush by Robinson, and a two-yard keeper by Dupree. Bulldog place kicker Thomas Warren lined up for a 20-yard angle shot from the right has but misfired leaving the game scoreless as it headed into the second quarter.
Christopher knocked through a 38-yard field goal in the opening seconds of the second quarter capping an 11-play, 59-yard drive that put the Keydets up, 3-0.
Ben Dupree and the Bulldog offense answered on the ensuing drive with a 13-play, 65 yard scoring possession capped by the senior quarterback's 4-yard keeper to push the hosts ahead, 7-3, with 8:42 left in the second quarter. Dupree executed the drive going 2 of 3 in passing for 14 yards and rushed four times for 28 yards.
VMI retook the lead in the final minutes of the first half after the VMI defense forced The Bulldogs to punt from deep in their own territory. VMI took over at The Citadel 48 with :53 left in the half and struck quickly. An 18-yard completion to Alec Thompson to the Citadel 27 setup a touchdown strike one play later as Augustine threaded a bullet to Rogers in full stride across the goal line for a 27-yard TD pass at the :26 second mark. Christopher's extra point was good and VMI went to the locker room with a 10-7 halftime lead.
The Bulldogs tied the game on the opening drive of the second half moving 59 yards in six plays and settling for a 34-yard field goal by Warren to tie the game at 10-10 with 11:53 left in the third quarter. A 41-yard run off a pitch by slotback Vinny Miller to the VMI 21 helped moved The Citadel into the red zone.
VMI went three and out on its next drive, but the Keydet defense buckled down and held Citadel on downs at midfield when Dupree was halted by Keydet linebacker Weston Reber on a fourth and one attempt. The Keydets took over and managed the ball downfield using an 14-yard rush by Ziglar and an 11-yard completion to Burton to spark the drive. A four-yard scramble by Augustine set up a 4th and 3 from The Citadel 13. Augustine's pass over the middle was knocked down at the line of scrimmage and The Citadel took over on downs with 3:50 remaining in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs quickly ripped off runs of 14 yards by Dupree and 17 yards by Miller and later added an 18-yard jaunt by Dupree which moved The Citadel inside the VMI 35. As the game turned into the fourth quarter still tied and the drive still in place, The Citadel chipped away and took the lead for good when Dupree rushed for his second TD of the day on an eight-yard cutback read up the middle. Warren's extra point made it 17-10 Bulldogs with 12:21 left in the final period.
VMI took over at its own 14 and three plays later Augustine was picked off by Citadel defensive back Sadath Jean-Pierre on a boundary throw at the VMI 45 and returned 19 yards. The game quickly became a two score contest when Dupree rushed 10 yards for his third tally three plays and Warren's extra point made it 24-10 with 10:22 left.
VMI moved it to the Citadel 41 on the ensuing drive but three sacks for 19 yards pushed the Keydets back into their own territory and the visitors turned the ball over on downs at their own 40. The Ciadel delivered a knockout blow when slotback Dalton Trevino rushed 5 yards for a touchdown for the game's final score with 4:39 remaining.
The Keydet offensive production was limited to 125 yards total offense in the second half after generating 216 yards before halftime. The Citadel racked up 238 yards total offense in the second half after mustering 121 yards in the first half.
Citadel's Robinson led all ground gainers with 115 yards followed by Dupree with 109 yards and three TD's. VMI was paced by Ziglar's 71 yards on the ground while Augustine completed 17 of 25 passes for 189 yards and a touchdown. Keydet wideouts Rogers and Alec each led the receiving corps with five catches.
Defensively, VMI outside linebacker Logan Staib topped the Keydet charts with eight solo stops and six assists for a career-high tying 14 tackles equaling the mark he had against the Bulldogs two years ago.. The Bulldog defense collectively racked up seven sacks for 44 yards on the afternoon.
VMi closes out the season next Saturday against Bucknell at Foster Stadium in Lexington. Game time is 1:30 p.m.
VMI Head Coach Sparky Woods -
"I thought we got a little momentum going in at the half and I thought the first part of the second half was going to be really important. We had it down a couple of times and didn't score. The turning point of the game I thought was the interception that we threw and it allowed them to go up two scores late in the game. It put us back to that disadvantage thing again, but I thought that as long we were in it, we played hard on both sides of the ball and played hard and got after them in the running game. We hurt ourselves and missed two field goals early and also kicked the ball out of bounds which hurt our field position a little bit."
"Still it's a job of execution in the second half and we didn't get it done offensively. A lot of penalties and that was disappointing. Overall they made more plays than we did and converted more first downs than we were able to on offense. When we got two scores down, it was hard to protect the passer. I think we played hard, but I think we when we look back at the film we're going to be even more disappointed because we're going to think we could make it a better game than we did."