AKRON, Ohio - The VMI Keydets pulled within two points on a pair of occasions midway through the third quarter, but the Akron Zips broke the game open by scoring 28 of the final 35 points en route to a 47-24 victory in NCAA football action Saturday night in Akron, Ohio. The game was the season opener for both schools.
A 99-yard third quarter drive that ended with an Al Cobb – Ryan Swingle touchdown connection cut Akron’s lead to 19-17 with 5:50 left in the third period, but Akron answered with three of the game’s final four touchdowns to pull away and claim the eventual victory in the third meeting ever between the programs.
VMI got on the board first when Myers plunged into the end zone from a yard out to cap a 77-yard drive, with Reed King’s PAT kick giving the Keydets the early 7-0 lead. But Akron answered just 33 seconds later with quarterback Thomas Woodson hooking up with JoJo Natson on a 46-yard touchdown strike. Though the extra point was blocked, the Zips found the end zone again on its next possession, with Woodson hooking up with Jerome Lane from 30 yards away to put Akron on top to stay 12-7.
Saturday turned out to be a career day for Woodson, who completed 23 of 32 passes for 407 yards and an Akron record six touchdowns. Jerome Lane was the recipient of 10 of those passes, piling up 196 yards with a pair of scores.
VMI quarterback Cobb, who is nearing school records in three passing categories, was 25 of 32 through the air for 258 yards and two touchdowns before leaving the game in the fourth quarter. Quan Myers led the Keydets on the ground, carrying the ball 21 times for 62 yards and the first-quarter touchdown, as well as adding eight receptions for 153 yards. In addition, Aaron Sanders caught nine passes and in doing so, became VMI’s all-time receptions leader. Sanders passed Mark Stock’s previous record and now has 166 career grabs.
Akron extended its lead to 19-7 when Woodson connected with Lane for a 17-yard touchdown strike. However, VMI answered just before halftime. Riuq Trotman’s 48-yard interception return set up King’s 37-yard field goal to cut the Keydet deficit to 19-10 just before the break.
The Keydets climbed even closer in the third quarter. Aided by two Akron personal foul penalties, VMI marched 99 yards in 16 plays to pull within two points at 19-17. Cobb completed seven of his nine pass attempts as VMI drove the length of the field, including a three-yard TD toss to Swingle with 5:50 remaining in the third quarter.
The game went back-and-forth from there, but for every VMI score, Akron had an answer.
After VMI pulled to within 19-17, the Zips caught a bit of a break. Woodson’s pass to Lane was fumbled just at the goal line, but JoJo Natson was able to fall on the loose ball in the end zone for a touchdown. Undaunted, the Keydets struck back, with Cobb and Swingle hooking up again, this time from 10-yards away. But again Akron responded as Woodson found Austin Wolf from 34 yards out early in the fourth quarter.
VMI could get no closer as Akron tacked on two more touchdowns late to pull away.
VMI will play the second of three straight road games to start the season when the Keydets travel to Morehead State. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m.
Quotes – VMI Head Coach Scott Wachenheim
“I thought we played very hard. We've just to take from this to get better. We got a lot of players in the game and a lot of freshman players stepped up and played hard. I like this football team and they never said die and kept fighting. The Corps should be proud of these young men and I'm looking forward to next week against Morehead State.”
“Quan Myers had a great day and played hard. I loved the way he played...great toughness. Looking forward to great things from him this year.”