GREENVILLE, S.C. – Fighting from a 17-0 deficit to open the game, the #21/23 VMI football team fought back but eventually fell by a close 37-31 score to Southern Conference opponent Furman University Saturday afternoon at Paladin Stadium in Greenville, South Carolina.
Senior wide receiver Michael Jackson led the VMI offense with a career-high 13 catches – the fourth most amount in school history for a single game. His 177 receiving yards is also the 10th most in program history for a single contest. Redshirt junior quarterback Seth Morgan tallied 427 yards of individual total offense, the fifth most amount in VMI history for one game.
Trailing 37-31 on VMI’s final drive, the Keydets (6-4, 4-3) drove down the field after forcing a Furman punt and appeared to tie the game at 37-37 on a six-yard pass from Morgan to Jackson in the corner of the end zone, but the catch was ruled out of bounds after further review. VMI’s next pass sailed incomplete on fourth down and the Paladins ran out the clock with only 1:30 left in regulation.
The Paladins (5-5, 3-4) jumped to a 17-0 lead early in the second quarter after W. Anderson, Jr. scored on a 39-yard touchdown scamper. Furman had built a 10-0 lead in the first quarter on a Timmy Bleekrode 38-yard field goal and a four-yard touchdown rush by Devin Abrams later in the period.
VMI got on the board on its first possession of the second quarter when Morgan connected with Jackson on a 56-yard touchdown reception with 11:23 before the half.
The Keydets then forced a turnover on downs by stopping a 4th-and-1 rush to give VMI the ball back in great field position at the Paladin 34-yard line. The Keydets went on to score on a two-yard rush by Hunter Rice to cut the deficit to 17-14 with 8:17 before halftime. Neither team put points on the board to close the half.
After Dominic Roberto upped the Furman lead to 24-14 on a one-yard touchdown rush, the Keydets responded with a four-yard touchdown pass from Morgan to Jackson to make the score 24-21 at the 6:28 mark of the third quarter.
The Paladins went up, 30-21, on a 64-yard TD reception from Jace Wilson to Chase Abshier and failed PAT. The Keydets did not take long to respond as Jackson scored his third touchdown reception of the day on a 6-yard pass from Morgan to cut the deficit to 30-28 with a minute to go before the fourth quarter.
Furman put the game away on its next possession with a 73-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to Ryan Miller to give the Paladins a 37-28 lead at the 14:48 mark of the final quarter.
VMI kicker Jerry Rice converted a 28-yard field goal on VMI’s next possession to make the score 37-31 with 10:32 to play.
The Keydets forced a fumble recovered by Stone Snyder deep in Paladin territory on Furman’s next possession, but VMI went three-and-out as the Keydets could not convert a 4th-and-1 and the Furman 19-yard line to give the ball back to Furman.
VMI closes out the season at home next Saturday facing SoCon foe Western Carolina at 12:30 p.m. at Foster Stadium.
VMI Head Coach Scott Wachenheim Postgame Quotes:
“You have to give credit to Furman. They made one more play than we did. We fell behind 17-0 and I’m proud of the way the young men came back and fought back in the game. It gave us a chance to win the game in the end. You hate for it to come to a questionable call but they do have replay for a reason to confirm that. I’m proud of the way the kids fought. In a game that close, you think about every decision you make but, again, we were down there with a chance to win the game when we had the ball on the last drive and what more can you ask for in a great game like that.”