LEXINGTON, Va. - Looking to close the season on a strong note for Senior Day, the VMI football team capitalized on several scoring opportunities to claim a 31-24 Southern Conference win over visiting Chattanooga on a rainy Saturday afternoon at Foster Stadium.
With the victory, the Keydets (5-7, 4-4) finished a successful season with five wins on the year, the most since the 2003 campaign in which VMI claimed six wins. The win over the Mocs (6-6, 5-3) was also the fourth Southern Conference victory of the year for VMI, the most league wins in 40 years since the Keydets earned four SoCon victories in 1979.
“I believe we won this game because we just kept fighting,” said VMI head coach Scott Wachenheim. “We got behind early and then everyone stepped up. We played a lot of man coverage today and left our corners out on islands but our defensive line provided pressure. This was a great defensive effort. They led the charge all day long.
“All three of our units played great today. I’m going to remember so many positives about this year. The win at The Citadel was awesome, beating ETSU and Samford in overtime and today’s victory all stand out.”
The Keydets trailed 10-3 after the first quarter but caught up when Reece Udinski connected with Jakob Herres on a 13-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter to knot the game at 10 apiece.
VMI then held UTC to a three-and-out to force a punt. On the punt, the Chattanooga long snapper sailed the ball over the punter Gabe Boring’s head. Boring tried to make a punt at UTC’s own two-yard line but it was blocked by VMI’s Devin Carper and recovered by Carter Johnson at the one-yard line, who scooped it up and rolled into the endzone for a defensive touchdown.
Both teams went scoreless the remainder of the half to give the Keydets a 17-10 advantage at the half.
On VMI’s first possession of the second half, Udinski again connected with Herres, this time on a 54-yard route up the middle and he outraced the UTC secondary for the score to put VMI up, 24-10, early in the third quarter.
The Keydet defense again rose to the occasion midway through the third quarter when senior defensive lineman Jarrod Richmond scooped up a Moc fumble in VMI territory and rumbled 64 yards for another VMI touchdown to put the Keydets up, 31-10, with just over a quarter and a half to play.
The Mocs were successful on scoring drives late in the third quarter and final quarter but the Keydets made enough plays on their final possession to run out the clock to preserve the conference victory.
Redshirt junior Connor Riddle finished the game with a career-high eight tackles as well as a new personal-best 2.5 tackles for loss. Fellow redshirt junior Elliott Brewster finished the game with a team-high 13 tackles, including four solo and nine assisted tackles.