VMI edges Samford in comeback win

LEXINGTON, Va. – After a Montrell Washington 3-yard touchdown scamper to open the second quarter, VMI responded with a 34-yard touchdown strike to Jakob Herres to trim the Bulldog lead to 17-14. The Bulldogs went quickly down the field again to score on a Liam Welch one-yard touchdown run before VMI countered with a 30-yard Jerry Rice field goal to make the score 24-17 for Samford.

Samford’s Washington again scored on a three-yard run on the next Bulldog possession to put the score at 31-17 with 4:05 before halftime. Samford forced a VMI punt, which Washington returned 67 yards to the VMI 12-yard line to set up another short field for the Bulldogs. QB Liam Welch capitalized and eventually scored on a one-yard TD dive for a 38-17 lead over the Keydets with 1:48 on the clock.

VMI quickly drove down the field and put Rice in position to kick a 32-yard field goal with two seconds to go, which he converted to make the score 38-20 at the half.

The Keydets received the opening kick of the third quarter and took the ball down the field in 4:54 to score on a Max Brimigion four-yard pass from Morgan to cut the deficit to 38-27 at the 10:06 mark. Later in the quarter, Samford would score on a Jay Stanton one-yard rush to up the Bulldog lead to 45-27, their final score of the contest.

VMI countered with a scoring drive that took only 3:33 to complete that resulted in a Rashad Raymond two-yard rush in the corner of the end zone after taking a pitch from Morgan to make the score 45-34 for Samford.

At the 9:42 mark of the fourth quarter, VMI scored on a Hunter Rice two-yard bull rush up the middle to cut the deficit to 45-40.

After forcing a punt, VMI earned a 10-play, 74-yard scoring drive that resulted in the game-winning reception to Jackson as he snuck a foot inbounds as he caught it and shoved out of the end zone with 3:14 left in regulation.

The Keydets caused a turnover on downs in the following Samford drive as Welch’s pass to Chandler Smith was jarred loose by Ethan Caselberry. Samford quickly caused a VMI punt with 2:04 remaining to get the ball back, but the Keydets’ Alex Oliver forced a fumble by Samford’s Michael Vice that was recovered by Caselberry at the Samford 34-yard line with 1:48 to go. VMI knelt the final few plays to hold on for the win.

“What a fantastic come-from-behind win. I’m very proud of the team. They didn’t stop believing. Really excited for our defense shutting them out in the fourth quarter after giving up a lot of points prior to that,” said Keydets head coach Scott Wachenheim.

“They made great throws and catches. Both quarterbacks played A+ level – zero interceptions in that game. Their offense is a really tough offense to stop, it’s a tough match-up for us because we’re a team that likes to load the box and play man coverage.

VMI returns to action next Saturday on the road for a crucial SoCon matchup with fellow league leader ETSU, which had a bye this weekend. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. in Johnson City, Tennessee.