VMI going for a Southern Conference football title this Saturday

College Sports

LEXINGTON, Va. – With an outright Southern Conference championship on the line, the VMI football team hosts ETSU on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Foster Stadium. A win will give VMI its first SoCon football title since 1977 and eighth overall in program history.

The game will be broadcast on ESPN+.

The total number of spectators allowed at Foster Stadium, 3,000, is based on currently enforced Executive Order #72 published by the Governor of Virginia. At this time, spectators are only allowed access to Foster Stadium, Cameron Hall Ticket Office, Drill Field No. 2 (lacrosse), Patchin Field (soccer) and Gray-Minor Stadium; all other areas of post remain closed to visitors. Cameron Hall Ticket Office opens at 10:00 a.m. and gates to Foster Stadium open one hour prior to kickoff. NCAA Complimentary Admissions will be distributed starting at 11:30 a.m.

A limited number of tickets still remain for Saturday’s game. They can be purchased here.

KEYDETS TO PLAY FOR SOCON TITLE – VMI football will have an opportunity to clinch the Southern Conference football title this Saturday as it faces ETSU at Foster Stadium. If the Keydets prevail over the Bucs, they would claim their eighth Southern Conference football championship and first since 1977. This will be the first game played in Lexington with conference title implications involving VMI since 1981 when the Keydets squared off against Furman but came up short against the Paladins. ETSU has only one path to a SoCon football title and must win its remaining two games and hope for a VMI loss against The Citadel April 17 to claim the crown.
 
HERRES NAMED NATIONAL AND SOCON PLAYER OF THE WEEK – Junior wide receiver Jakob Herres was named Stats Perform National and SoCon Offensive Player of the Week for his outstanding play in last Saturday’s 36-31 win over Wofford in Spartanburg, S.C. Herres caught a career-high 15 passes out of 18 targets for 207 yards and three touchdowns – all career bests – and hauled in the 14-yard game winning catch from quarterback Seth Morgan with :35 remaining in the contest. He also generated 30 yards after catch against the Terriers. It’s the second time this year a Keydet has been named National Player of the Week as outside linebacker Connor Riddle earned the honor for his play against Furman February 27. (See more Herres notes page 3).
 
VMI MOVES TO 5-0; SECURES WINNING SEASON – With the 36-31 come-from-behind win over Wofford Saturday, VMI is 5-0 for the first time since 1960. The Keydets also secured their first winning season since 1981 ending a span of nearly four decades where the closest the Keydets could come to winning marks were a pair of consecutive 6-6 records in 2002 and 2003. VMI has also won six straight games dating back to the 2019 season finale which is the longest consecutive win streak for the program since 1959-60 when the Keydets reeled off 12 straight wins over two consecutive SoCon championship seasons.
 
ROAD WARRIORS – VMI finished its 2021 spring football season with a perfect 3-0 road mark in regular season games and went undefeated on the road for the first the first time since 1922 when the “Flying Squadron” under coach Blandy Clarkson went 3-0 in road tests. All three VMI football regular season road victories this year occurred where VMI had never won before and ended winless droughts at Western Carolina (13 games), Samford (three games) and Wofford (seven games).
 
A VMI Win over ETSU would …
—Give VMI its first Southern Conference football title since 1977 and eighth overall in program history 
 
THE SERIES: This will be the 26th meeting between the schools that first met in 1979. ETSU leads the series 15-10. VMI claimed the eight of the first 14 of the rivalry before the Bucs took seven straight from the Keydets. The series took a 12-year hiatus when VMI left the SoCon for the Big South and ETSU dropped its football program before reinstating it in 2015. The Bucs and VMI are 2-2 since resuming the series in 2016 with the Keydets prevailing in the last meeting, 31-24 in overtime in Johnson City. 
 
VMI MOVES UP IN POLLS – Two weeks after attaining its first ever FCS Top 25 ranking, VMI Football is ranked 10th in the Stats Perform and the AFCA coaches’ poll. The Keydets moved up four spots in the Stats Perform poll and three spots in the coaches’ poll from last week. The #10 spot is the highest national ranking in program history surpassing the #13 AP poll ranking in the 1957 season.
 
MORGAN SPECTACULAR IN FIRST START – Taking over for SoCon Preseason Offensive Player of the Year Reece Udinski who is out for the season with injury, redshirt freshman Seth Morgan shined in his first college start by completing 25 of 34 passes for 375 yards and four touchdowns in the 36-31 win over Wofford last Saturday. Morgan also rushed for 76 yards and finished with 451 yards total offense – the second-best single game in school history. The 375 yards passing ranked 10th best on the VMI all-time charts.
 
HERRES HEROIC – The 15 receptions by Jakob Herres against Wofford last Saturday were the second most in a single game in program history behind only Aaron Sanders’ 15 catches at Mercer in 2015. The 207 yards receiving stands as the sixth best mark on the VMI single game charts. Herres now has 19 career touchdown receptions which one behind all-time leader Mark Stock (1984-88).  Herres over the last two weeks against Samford and Wofford has caught a combined 29 passes for 373 yards and five touchdowns. He also moved over the 2,000 mark in career receiving yards and has 2,111 yards which ties him with Zohn Burden (2002-05) for fourth place on the VMI all-time list.
 
A.J. SMITH SPARKS “D” – Senior safety A.J. Smith led VMI’s defense in tackles against Wofford Saturday with a season-best 10 stops and a pass break up and now stands third on the season defensive charts overall with 33 tackles. It was Smith’s sixth career double-digit tackle game.
 
SWINEHART GETS FIRST CAREER TD RUSH – Freshman running back Grant Swinehart reached the endzone for the first time in his college career with a six-yard run in the first quarter of Saturday’s win at Wofford.
 
RICE STARTS NEW FIELD GOAL RUN – Redshirt freshman Jerry Rice had his successful field goal string of six straight conversions end in the first half against Wofford, but later came back to kick a 28-yard field goal to make it seven-for-nine on field goal attempts this season. Rice earlier kicked three field goals against Western Carolina March 6 in Cullowhee connecting on attempts of 27, 29, and 32 yards for his first converted field goals of his college career. It marked the first time that a VMI kicker had three field goals in a game since Barrett Way against Charleston Southern on October 21, 2006.
 
OT STRING CONTINUES – With a 38-37 overtime win over Samford March 20, VMI continued its string of extra play success since the rules were adopted in the 90’s. The Keydets moved to 9-4 in overtime play and have won their last three contests that have gone beyond regulation time. VMI is also 4-0 all-time in road overtime games.
 
UDINSKI TAKES TOP SPOT – Senior quarterback Reece Udinski became VMI’s all-time leading passer against Samford March 20 and finished his illustrious Keydet career with 7,877 yards surpassing Al Cobb (2014-16). Udinski holds the all-time VMI records for passing yardage, completions, attempts, and TD passes. He has been responsible for 51 touchdowns in his career which is second all-time behind running back Thomas Haskins (1993-96) who had 53. Udinski was responsible for 308 points in his career which also is second all-time behind Haskins who had 326 during his Institute career. Udinski had ten 300-yard passing games which is one less that career leader Al Cobb (2014-16) and his 22 career 200-yard passing games moved him past Cobb to the top spot on the VMI charts.
 
BRIDY RAMBLES ON – Junior running back Korey Bridy posted his second consecutive 100-yard rushing game with 109 yards on 27 carries and a touchdown against Samford March 20.  One week after a career-high 91 yards against Western Carolina, Bridy topped the 100-yard rushing mark for the first time in his career with 113 yards on 27 carries against Mercer March 13 as VMI netted 212 yards rushing against the Bears for its best rushing outing as a team since 220 yards against Mars Hill on September 7, 2019. Bridy currently leads the team in rushing with 313 yards and four touchdowns.
 
DYNAMIC DUO ON “D” – Keydet linebackers Connor Riddle and Stone Snyder top the VMI defensive tackles charts with 46 and 43 tackles respectively, but it’s in negative yardage plays where they are both having a significant impact on VMI’s defensive performance this year. The pair have accounted for 14.0 of VMI’s total 37 TFL’s this year and 9.0 of the units 19 sacks. Through four games, Riddle has 9.5 TFL/5.0 sacks while Snyder has 5.0 TFL/4.0 sacks.

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