LEXINGTON, Va. - Looking to return the Silver Shako back to Lexington after an 11-year drought, the VMI football team came up just short as The Citadel escaped with a 34-32 win over the Keydets Saturday afternoon at Foster Stadium.
Down 31-20 with just over nine minutes to play in the game, the Keydets battled back with a quick 65-yard touchdown strike from Reece Udinski to Kris Thornton to trim the Bulldog lead to 31-26 but the two-point pass conversion failed as the ball was batted down at the goal line. After a Citadel field goal with 2:30 to play to make the score 34-26, the Keydets marched down the field and scored on a 27-yard reception from Udinski to freshman Jakob Herres, but the two-point play to tie the game was unsuccessful as Udinski's pass sailed a little high over Devone Humphrey's hands. The Bulldogs took a knee in the ensuing possession to result in the game's final 34-32 score.
Udinski set a single game program record with 456 yards of total offense. He also set a new program standard with 49 completions during the game in addition to throwing a career-best five touchdown passes. Leading receiver Kris Thornton caught 11 passes for 146 yards including the 65-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter, the longest reception of his VMI career.
Defensively, Elliott Brewster led the way for the Keydets with a career-best 15 tackles including two tackles for loss.
The Citadel quarterback Jordan Black led all rushers with 155 net yards for the day on 23 carries including a 71-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
Herres finished the game with 117 receiving yards for second most on the VMI offense while Alex Ramsey caught eight passes for 36 yards. All five of VMI's touchdowns came through the air as Thornton had two and Rohan Martin, Quan Myers and Herres each tallied one for the day.
The Keydets return to SoCon action next Saturday on the road as they travel to Chattanooga to take on the Mocs in a 3 p.m. kickoff in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
VMI Head Coach Scott Wachenheim quotes:
“We overcame a whole lot of adversity in that ballgame. I was very proud of how this team showed grit and perseverance and fought back.
“I think we have a great young football team that believes and fights to the finish. I also have to give credit to The Citadel; they executed extremely well. Coach Brent Thompson and his staff do an outstanding job. They executed a great scheme to block our punt and extra point.
“It was a hard-fought game, played like institutes like VMI and The Citadel should play.
“A big difference today was that Reece had time to throw - our offensive line made a lot of improvement this week.
“These kids have improved dramatically this season. They come in and work hard every day, that is all you can ask as a coach.
“Our defense stopped them twice on fourth downs, and that is a good fourth-down offense. It gave us the ball and a chance to come back.”