LEXINGTON, Va. - Daz Palmer ran for a 12-yard touchdown in the third overtime, and quarterback Al Cobb set VMI records for career passing yards and completions as the Keydets rallied for a 23-17 victory over Bucknell Saturday afternoon in Lewisburg, Pa.
With the win, the Keydets won back-to-back games for the first time since 2005 and consecutive road contests for the first time since the 1981 and 1982 seasons to improve to 2-1 this year.
Bucknell dropped to 1-3 wth the loss.
Palmer’s touchdown run came after VMI’s defense, which came up with big play after big play the entire game, stopped Bucknell for the third time in extra sessions. The first stop came with the Bucknell facing fourth-and-two at the VMI 5-yard line, as linebacker Ryan Francis denying the conversion in the first overtime. Bucknell missed a field goal in the second,
VMI had a couple of chances to win the game before Palmer’s game-winning run. However, Reed King, who tied the game with a field goal late in regulation, had a field goal attempt blocked in the first overtime. Both teams then missed field goal tries in the second extra period, and finally, a Riuq Trotman interception put VMI in position in the third overtime. Palmer took a third-down handoff from Cobb at the 12, found a seam and raced into the end zone for the game-winning score.
After leading the Keydets in rushing against Morehead State, Palmer was the leading ground-gainer again this Saturday. He finished the game with 80 yards on 17 carries and a pair of scores.
For his part, Cobb completed 34 of 52 passes for 285 yards. With the effort, Cobb moved into first place on VMI’s career list for passing yards (6,398) and took over the top spot from Eric Kordenbrock as VMI’s leader for career completions (581). Dane Forlines was his top target, hauling in 12 receptions for 157 yards, the fourth-most receptions in a Keydet receiver had ever recorded in a game.
Cobb also threw three interceptions in the game, but he more than made up for those with a fourth-quarter drive that tied the game and forced overtime. During that march, which covered 69 yards in 14 plays, Cobb completed five of his seven passes, including two crucial third-down conversions during the march, and it was his 8-yard run that got the Keydets to the 11-yard line, setting up King’s 25-yard field goal that tied the game at 17-17 with 59 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
In addition to his fourth-down tackle in the first overtime, Francis dropped Chad Freshnock for a 3-yard loss on third down in the second OT, setting up a Bucknell field goal attempt from 42 yards away that sailed wide left. In the third overtime, Bucknell was thwarted again with Trotman’s pick setting up game-winning touchdown run.
Francis (16) and fellow linebacker Allan Cratsenberg (18) combined for 34 tackles, six of which went for a loss. On the other side, Freshnock had 33 carries for 166 yards for Bucknell.
The win gave VMI two road victories in the same season for the first time since 2003, in addition to being the first back to back road wins since beating Virginia Tech to end the 1981 season and ETSU to open 1982. The Keydets also broke a four-game losing streak in OT that dated back to 2001 and included the only other triple OT game in VMI history, a 2005 loss to Gardner-Webb.
VMI opens Southern Conference play next Saturday with the first home game of the season as the Keydets play host to Mercer. Kickoff is slated for 1:30 p.m.
Quotes – VMI Head Coach Scott Wachenheim
“We have this wristband with the team, "TPF" for trust, play, finish. The kids trusted each other, they trusted their coaches, they trusted their preparation and played to win and then they finished. I couldn't be more proud of the players. The O-line and Daz Palmer found a way to win. The defense and the defensive line came back- they were running the ball on us in the second half but they found a way to bow up in overtime. I'm just excited, a total team victory, and the first time we've won back-to-back road games in 35 years. It's pretty special."