VMI Wins Southern Conference Football Title – Virginia Military Institute – VMI Athletics

Box Score

LEXINGTON, Va. – The VMI football team won its first Southern Conference title since the 1977 season by taking down rival The Citadel by a 31-17 score Saturday afternoon at Foster Stadium.

As the SoCon champions, the Keydets have earned an automatic bid to the NCAA FCS playoffs for the first time in program history. The Military Classic of the South victory also ensured that the Silver Shako will stay in Lexington as VMI has won two straight contests over the Bulldogs.

VMI, which finished the regular season 6-1, started fast by scoring touchdowns early in the opening quarter.

The Keydet defense stopped The Citadel on downs the Bulldog opening drive at the visitors 41-yard line after fullback Nathan Storch was denied on a fourth-and-two rushing attempt. VMI wasted little time and reached the endzone on six snaps after quarterback Seth Morgan dumped a screen pass to running back Korey Bridy who dashed to the endzone for a 17-yard score with 7:43 left.

The VMI defense forced The Citadel on a 3-and-out on the ensuing drive and the Keydets punched the lead to 14-0 after moving 74 yards in 10 plays and capping it with a three-yard slant pass to Jakob Herres. Herres snagged a 22-yarder to The Citadel 6 that set up the score.

The Bulldogs broke through on the scoreboard with a classic triple-option drive eating up 8:46 on the clock and capping a 15 play, 75-yard possession with a one-yard rush at the 3:19 mark of the second quarter and cut the VMI lead in half to 14-7.

The Keydets answered right back as Morgan started the drive with passes of 22 yards to Rashad Raymond and Max Brimigion for 21 yards to quickly push the ball into Bulldog territory. Two plays later facging a 3rd and 12 at The Ciadel 34, Brimigion took a reverse pitch and tossed a 16-yard pass to tight end Aiden Twombly to the 18-yard line. Morgan then found Herres for a 15-yard gain to the Bulldog 3 and one snap later Morgan took an option keeping in for a score that pushed VMI’s lead to 21-7 with 4:14 left in the half.

The Bulldogs (2-10) salvaged a score right before halftime on a Colby Kitner 32-yard field goal to make the cut the VMI lead to 21-10 at halftime.

The Citadel opened the second half with possession but had to punt after moving to the VMI 44. But the Keydets fumbled it away on its first snap of the second half and the Bulldogs seized the momentum quickly string two plays later on a Jaylen Adams 22-yard option keeper down the right sideline and suddenly VMI’s lead was cut to one score, 21-17, at the 9:52 mark of the fourth quarter.

VMI was able to stretch its lead to 24-17 on the ensuing drive when kicker Jerry Rice nailed a 38-yard field for his 10th successful make of the year.

The Keydets missed opportunities to add to the lead after missing a field goal and being held on downs on their first two drives of the fourth quarter but VMI’s defense was able to keep The Citadel in check and held the Bulldogs to 31 yards total offense in the final period. VMI hit the clinching score on a 50-yard catch and run from Morgan to Michael Jackson that sealed the scoring with 1:52 left in the game.

Morgan, who entered the game leading FCS in completion percentage at 77%, produced his third straight 300-yard passing game completing 25 of 34 passes for 328 yards and three TDs. Herres collected 11 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown for third double-digit catch game out of the last four contests.

VMI’s dynamic linebacking duo of Stone Snyder (21 tackles, 2.5 TFL) and Connor Riddle (20 tackles) led the defensive charts while defensive back A.J. Smith and defensive linemen Warren Dabney each contributed nine stops.
Storch led the Bulldogs in rushing with 93 yards while Adams gained 83 yards on the ground with two touchdowns.

The Keydets successfully defensed the Silver Shako trophy for the first time since 1995 and 1996 and defeated the Bulldogs in Lexington for the first time since 2000.

VMI awaits its FCS opponent which will announced Sunday morning at 11:30 a.m. during the FCS Selection Sunday show to be aired on ESPNU and the Watch ESPN app.

VMI Head Coach Scott Wachenheim Postgame Quotes:
Opening Statement
My theme this week was borrowed from Drake. We started from the bottom now we’re here. We started at the bottom and now we’re at the top of the SoCon. I couldn’t be more proud of our football team. Seth Morgan and Michael Jackson made a big-time play at the end of the game. Our defense made some great second-half adjustments. The Citadel also adjusted and attacked us in a different way. Tom Clark, Pat Kuntz, Marshall Roberts and Kenneth Scott came up with an adjustment to counteract what they were doing and they didn’t score the rest of the game. I couldn’t be prouder of the players and the coaches. It’s a great feeling and I’m thankful for General Peay and Dr. Dave Diles believing in me after the 0-11 season a few years ago. I’m thankful for Major General Wins because we win with Wins.
On if he ever expected to coach a playoff team …
When you look back at my opening press conference back in 2015, I said, “Look, you’ve got to be patient. This is going to be taking some time.” We have to recruit players. At VMI we don’t get grad transfers or junior college transfers. We have to recruit freshmen, and there’s a learning curve on figuring out the kids who are going to make it here. I always thought we could do it, and I believed it. Tom Clark, the only assistant who has been with me for six years, I knew he believed it, too. After we went 0-11, there were times I prayed to my Lord and asked, “Lord, why did you bring me here? Did you bring me here to fail?” I have to give God all the glory and he renewed my strength. He helped me to move forward and to make the right decisions, and he gave us some players that could make plays.
On why this team has been successful …
This team has the most talent since I’ve been here.  This team loves each other and that can’t be overstated. They truly love each other and they hold each other accountable. They stand strong and firm during the darkest times and they work with a great attitude. They’ve dodged all the curveballs that Covid has thrown us this past year and they back each other up. That’s what has made this team special.

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