BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - 24th-ranked Samford scored early and often to deny VMI its fourth victory of the season, knocking off the Keydets, 55-21, Saturday afternoon in Birmingham, Ala.
The Bulldogs scored 28 first-quarter points to take control of the game early, and Samford snuffed out a VMI comeback attempt with 17 tallies in the fourth period to improve to 5-1 on the season.
Samford raced out to a 14-0 lead less than four minutes into the game, with quarterback Devlin Hodges tossing a 9-yard TD pass and Deion Pierre returning an interception 21 yards for a score. VMI answered when Alex Keys capped a 74-yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown run to cut the deficit to 14-7, but the Bulldogs scored 21 unanswered points and held a 38-14 halftime advantage.
The Keydet defense held the Bulldogs scoreless in the third quarter, and the offense tried to mount a comeback, with Pete Reed running into the end zone from 19 yards out midway through the quarter to pull VMI (3-3 overall, 1-2 Southern Conference) closer at 38-21.
Samford, however, scored 17 points in the fourth quarter to pull away.
For the game, the Bulldogs piled up 557 yards of total offense. Hodges, leading Samford’s fast-paced offense, completed 35 of 50 passes for 435 yards and five touchdowns. Backup Liam Welch also threw a touchdown pass, and five different receivers had scoring catches for Samford. Karel Hamilton was Samford’s top receiver, with 12 catches for 163 yards and score.
While the VMI defense, led by linebacker Ryan Francis’s eight tackles, had a hard time slowing down Samford, the VMI offense equaled a season-high by committing three turnovers. Quarterback Al Cobb, who completed 23 of 31 passes for 247 yards, tossed a pair of interceptions, including the pick returned for a touchdown in the first quarter.
Aaron Sanders ran his streak of consecutive games with a catch to 32 with his four receptions; Dane Forlines led all VMI receivers with nine grabs for 77 yards. Keys carried the ball 16 times for 32 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but the Keydets were held to just 80 yards on the ground in the contest.
VMI football will return to action Oct. 22, when the Keydets take on the #3 Chattanooga Mocs on the road. Game time in Chattanooga, Tenn. is set for 2 p.m.
Quotes - VMI Head Coach Scott Wachenheim
"I thought Samford did a really good job. They physically dominated both sides of the line of scrimmage. Their quarterback Devlin Hodges was very accurate coming in and the receivers were tough to tackle. Their D-line constantly pushed back our O-line in the run game. I thought Samford, because of our play this year, took us very seriously and took this game like a championship game and played at their best. I don't know if we were quite ready for that intensity and that's up to me to make sure we are ready to meet that intensity with a greater intensity if we want to win these games in the future."
"I thought our kids came out and fought hard in the second half and the VMI "never say die" attitude was on display. There's a lot of things we will learn from this game that we need to improve on not only before next week when we play Chattanooga but all the way into next year before we open next year's season."