CHARLESTON, S.C. - Despite a stern VMI defensive effort, the Citadel Bulldogs retained hold of the Silver Shako defeating the Keydets 21-3 Saturday afternoon in the “Military Classic of the South” in Charleston, S.C.
Freshman fullback Brandon Rainey gained 125 yards on 16 carries, mostly in the second half, to help the Bulldogs to their second consecutive win in as many games. The Citadel moved to 5-3 overall and 3-3 in the SoCon.
VMI (0-9, 0-6 SoCon) took a brief 3-0 lead scoring on its first drive of the game on a 37-yard field goal by Grant Clemons with 10:59 left in the opening quarter.
After two plays which netted 0 yards on its first two snaps of the game, The Citadel slotback Grant Drakeford took an option pitch 71 yards down the right sideline to put the Bulldogs in the lead for good.
Bulldog quarterback Dominique Allen added a one-yard run with :10 left in the first quarter to boost the lead to 14-3 and the score remained that way until fullback Lorenzo Ward ripped up the middle for a 45-yard TD burst.
VMI’s defense held The Citadel to 1 of 5 in red zone chances as the Bulldogs came away empty on three missed field goals and a blocked field goal.
Allen added 80 yards rushing for the Bulldogs and completed just one pass for 14 yards but The Citadel outgained the Keydets 421-219 and dialed up five sacks for 26 yards.
VMI quarterback Duncan Hodges completed a season-high 22 of 36 passing attempts for 147 yards – his favorite target freshman wideout Kris Thornton with six catches for 51 yards.
The Keydet opening scoring drive was engineered by Hodges who was five of six passing for 47 yards and helped generate four first downs before Clemmons knocked through his fourth field goal of the year.
After Drakeford’s TD run put The Citadel up on the ensuing possession, the Keydets fumbled the ball away at midfield but the Bulldogs Jacob Godek pushed the first of his three field goal misses wide right and the Keydets escaped without further damage.
VMI was forced to punt next possession and a 20-yarder gave The Citadel the ball on the VMI 46. The Bulldogs converted the relatively short field into points when a 22-yard run by Cam Jackson to the VMI 18 helped set up the Allen one-yard touchdown keeper to put the home team ahead, 14-3.
VMI had its final drive of the first half drive snuffed out when it moved to The Citadel 37 before Hodges was picked off by defensive back Aaron Spann at the Bulldog 36 and returned six yards. It was Spann’s third interception over the last two games. Spann had earlier recovered the VMI fumble in the first quarter.
The Keydets again threatened on its final drive of the third quarter moving to the Bulldog 43, but back-to-back sacks of 11 yards on the next two snaps pushed the Keydets back into their own territory.
The Bulldog defense generated 11 tackles-for-loss for 38 yards on the day and held VMI to 1 of 7 third down conversions in the second half.
Senior linebacker Allan Cratsenberg led VMI in tackles for the third straight week with nine tackles (six solo) and was equaled by freshman cornerback A.J. Smith who also had nine tackles (five solo).
VMI returns to action next Saturday in its final road game of the year against ETSU with kickoff in Johnson City set for 3 pm.
VMI Head Coach Scott Wachenheim – “I thought The Citadel played an outstanding ballgame and were pretty much error free – they didn’t turn over the ball over a single time and there were very few penalties and they executed their triple option very well. I thought our defense stiffened in the red zone when they missed three field goals and a field goal blocked. I thought our offense did a good job of moving the ball and backing The Citadel up and making them go the long hard way which is hard for any team to execute. Offensively, we won the time of possession battle in the first half and were four of nine in third down conversions. The story of our season has been we’ve been unable to execute in the second half offensively, and that happened. So, I am proud of the kids, but you have to be proud of The Citadel Bulldogs as well – they played extremely hard and extremely well today.