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VMI defeats The Citadel to claim SoCon Title, playoff bid

Keydets passing attack was dominant against the Bulldogs.

LEXINGTON, Va. – VMI defeated The Citadel, 31-17, in the latest edition of The Battle for the Silver Shako. Not only does the coveted trophy stay in Lexington, the Keydets have won the Southern Conference Title for the first time since 1977-- earning an automatic FCS playoff bid. This will be VMI’s first appearance in the FCS playoffs.

“Obviously it’s a clean version of the Drake song ‘Started from the bottom now we’re here’”, said Keydets head coach Scott Wachenheim.

“We definitely did start from the bottom and now at the top of the SoCon (Southern Conference). Couldn’t be more proud of the football team. I thought Seth Morgan and Michael Jackson made a big time play at the end of the game. Our defense made some great second half adjustments.”

Samford defeated No. 23 Mercer on Saturday, which secured the Keydets conference title win. But VMI wanted to make sure the other teams in the conference understood that it was earned not given by taking care of business at home against its rival The Citadel.

VMI did most of its damage through the air. Quarterback Seth Morgan completed 25 passes for 328 yards and 3 touchdowns. He also accounted for the team’s only rushing touchdown. Jakob Herres hauled in 11 catches for 123 yards and 1 touchdown. Those contributions led to a 21-10 halftime lead for the Keydets.

“It’s amazing, been an amazing journey so far,” said quarterback Seth Morgan.

“These are my brothers for life. Just seeing the hard work everyone puts in on a day to day basis-- we knew winning was in our future it was just a matter of time.”

The Citadel had a huge day on the ground with its option offense. The team rushed for 271 yards on 65 attempts. Quarterback Jaylan Adams only completed 2-of-8 pass attempts. They cut into the lead, 21-17, after a VMI fumble.

Former Lord Botetourt kicker Trey Rice connected on 1-of-2 field goal attempts in the second half to give the Keydets some breathing room. Then with under 2 minutes to play, quarterback Seth Morgan connected with Michael Jackson for the 50 yard touchdown, bumping the lead up to 31-17 with 1:52 remaining.

“You just saw smiles on everybody’s faces and it’s just all coming together,” said Keydets wide receiver Jakob Herres.

“You start thinking about it before the season like, what it would be like but to actually experience it now, it’s a whole other level of happiness and excitement.”

The Keydets defense also played a big role in the fourth quarter as well-- stringing together back-to-back three-and-out series.

VMI defeats The CItadel to claim the SOCON title and FCS Playoff bid (WSLS)

HALFTIME UPDATE:

Things are looking good in Lexington for No. 15 VMI, as the Keydets hold a 21-7 halftime lead over its rival The Citadel. With a win today or a Mercer loss, VMI can claim the Southern Conference title and earn an automatic FCS Playoff bid.

The Keydets success has come mainly through the air. Quarterback Seth Morgan has completed 15-of-17 passes for 183 yards and 2 touchdowns. Morgan also has a rushing TD. They were held to just 19 rushing yards.

The Citadel was held to 8 yards of passing, while their rushing attack carried the load. As a team, they had 36 attempts for 166 yards.

VMI welcomed back the return of running back Korey Bridy who missed the last two games due to injury. He had just 3 rushing yards in the half, but 19 receiving yards and a touchdown.

The winner of the game also receives the Silver Shako Trophy-- a long-standing tradition in what’s known as the Military Classic of the South football game. The Citadel held the trophy for 12 consecutive years before VMI took back the hardware in 2019 with a 34-21 upset win.


About the Authors:

Eric is no stranger to the Roanoke Valley. He is a Roanoke native and proud graduate of William Fleming High School.

Brooke Leonard is the newest addition to the 10 Sports team, joining in June 2019.