LEXINGTON, Va. - Al Cobb threw for three touchdowns and the VMI running game piled up 233 yards on the ground, propelling the Keydets past the ETSU Bucs, 37-7, in SoCon football action Saturday at Lexington's Foster Stadium.
Alex Keys scored with 5:20 left in the first quarter, his fourth rushing touchdown in the past two games, and the Keydets (3-2, 1-1 SoCon) were on cruise control from there. ETSU (2-3, 1-3) managed just 123 yards of total offense in the first half as VMI pulled out to a 27-0 lead at the break, and the visitors did not seriously threaten until averting the shutout in the final minute.
VMI jumped ahead on Keys' rushing touchdown early, and then things opened up from there. A 54-yard scoring pass from Cobb to Javeon Lara marked the first career touchdown reception for the freshman, and gave VMI a 14-0 lead after one quarter.
That margin grew to 21-0 with 4:08 left in the second quarter, as Cobb found Aaron Sanders with a 45-yard strike down the right sideline. Chad Jacob tacked on a nine-yard grab in the final minute of the half to account for the halftime score, 27-0.
ETSU got no further than the VMI 46 at any point in the first 30 minutes of play, and in fact, advanced no further until the fourth quarter. By then, VMI added on three more points. A 51-yard field goal by Dillon Christopher with 9:29 on the clock pushed the margin to 30, and was tied for the eighth-longest field goal in school history. It was also Christopher's fourth field goal of over 50 yards.
The home team capped its scoring with 4:31 left, when true freshman Tyain Smith darted 73 yards for a touchdown to make it a 37-0 contest. The Bucs were able to score in the last minute to avert the shutout and account for the final margin, 37-7.
Cobb finished 14 of 20 with 212 yards and three touchdowns in just three quarters, while starting ETSU QB Austin Herink managed just a 11 for 23 effort with 109 yards and one interception.
Defensively, VMI piled up 11 tackles for loss, led by 4.5 from Ryan Francis. Riuq Trotman had the Keydet interception, his third of the year to equal the most by a Keydet since 2003.
VMI's 233 yards rushing marked a over-200 yard improvement over last week, and was nearly 50 yards better than the team's previous season high. The effort was helped by Smith's 73-yard TD scamper, the longest run by a Keydet since 2007.
VMI football will return to action Oct. 15, when the Keydets travel to Birmingham, Ala. to take on Samford. Action gets underway at 3 p.m.
Head Coach Scott Wachenheim -
“I’m really proud of our football team. It’s always nice to win a game in front of the Corps. We play for them and they cheer us on. It was good to get the first home win of the season and get the first SoCon win as we get ready to hit the road for the next two weeks. I thought the defense was outstanding. I thought Tom Clark (defensive coordinator) and his staff put together an outstanding game plan. I thought Ryan Francis played an outstanding game and did a great job leading our troops on defense. Offensively, I thought we did a good job of taking advantage of what they were doing. They were dropping a safety down in the box to stop the run, so we took some shots over the top of them. Al Cobb was very accurate and hit Javeon Lara And Aaron Sanders on long touchdown catches.”