LEXINGTON, Va. - Coming off a bye week energized and ready to resume conference play, the VMI football team suffered a 43-35 setback to visiting Western Carolina on Homecoming Saturday afternoon at Foster Stadium.
VMI (4-5, 3-3) struggled to maintain possession of the ball as the Keydets turned the ball over five times, including four fumbles and one interception. With the pick thrown early in the fourth quarter, VMI quarterback Reece Udinski's new FCS record 368 passes came to an end. Two weeks ago at Mercer he broke the previous record of 342 set by Portland State's Jimmy Blanchard in 1999.
With 449 yards of total offense for the day, Udinski is now responsible for 6,045 career yards of total offense which ranks No. 2 in VMI history. With two passing touchdown on the day he now has 38 for his career, which also ranks second in the VMI football annals. Udinski finished with 317 passing yards against the Catamounts (2-7, 1-5), marking his ninth career game passing for 300 or more yards in a single outing.
Redshirt senior running back Alex Ramsey continued to shine for the Keydet offense as he scored three touchdowns and recorded 143 net yards on 29 carries. He now has 20 rushing touchdowns for the season - a new VMI record - and 122 points scored, the most for a single season. He recorded his fifth 100-yard rushing game of the season and sixth of his career. He also now has 1,086 rushing yards on the season to become just the ninth running back in school history to reach the 1,000-yard plateau.
“I want to give credit to Western Carolina,” said VMI head coach Scott Wachenheim. “They came ready to play and fought very hard to pick up their first Southern Conference win. We didn’t execute at our best level today. We turned the ball over at a higher rate than usual and they converted a lot of third and fourth downs against us to maintain possessionsda. We weren’t as focused on taking care of the football as we have been earlier in the season.”
Down 30-22 early in the fourth quarter, the Keydets surrendered a Western Carolina touchdown midway through the period and dug themselves into a 37-22 deficit with eight minutes to play. VMI went quickly down the field and responded with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Jakob Herres at the 6:39 mark to trim the deficit to 37-29.
VMI held the Catamounts to a punt on the ensuing possession and took the ball back with 3:28 on the clock. Udinski connected with freshman Leroy Thomas for a 62-yard reception in just 18 seconds and VMI was back in business down 37-35 with 3:10 to play following a failed two-point conversion.
The Catamounts then converted a crucial third down with only two minutes to play on the ensuing possession and Western Carolina was able to milk the clock to the end of regulation.
VMI returns to action next Saturday at Southern Conference opponent Furman for the second-to-last league game of the season. Kickoff is slated for a 1 p.m. start in Greenville, South Carolina.