ROANOKE, Va. – One day after defeating its biggest rival The Citadel and clinching the Southern Conference Championship, VMI learned it will face No. 3 overall seed JMU in the first round of playoffs at 2 p.m. on Saturday. This will be the Keydets first time in school history competing in the FCS Playoffs.
After the win over The Citadel on Saturday, coach Scott Wachenheim said, “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.”
VMI will enter postseason play with a 6-1 record and an offense that hasn’t skipped a beat despite some injuries and setbacks. The team lost starting quarterback Reece Udinski for the season due to an ACL injury during a win over Samford. In stepped Seth Morgan who proved his worth immediately--able to offer a dual-threat option for the fast-paced Keydets offense.
At running back, Korey Bridy stepped up in a big way early in the season before he missed two games due to injury as well. Wide receiver and former Patrick Henry standout Leroy Thomas has also missed significant time this season due to a lower leg injury. But through it all, VMI has embraced the next-man-up mentality and has benefited in this historic season.
When asked why his team has been so successful, Wachenheim added, “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,” said Wachenheim.
The Dukes (5-0) currently leads the country in total defense (175.6) and are second in scoring defense (9.8 PPG).
This is the seventh year in a row that the Dukes have been in the playoffs, and the team has also been a national seed five times in five seasons.
VMI will face JMU for the first time since 2009 at Bridgeforth Stadium on Saturday at 2 p.m.
The winner will face North Dakota and Missouri State in the quarterfinals on either May 1 or 2.