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VMI Ends Season at 2-10 - abc27 WHTM

VMI Ends Season at 2-10

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From VMI athletics:

LEXINGTON, Va. - The VMI Keydets took a 17-7 lead midway through the third quarter, but the Bucknell Bison forced four turnovers in the final 22:07 and went on to a 35-23 win in non-conference football action Saturday at VMI's Foster Stadium. The game was the season finale for both schools and was VMI's Senior Day.

----------- To see the box score CLICK HERE ----------------

After the Keydets (2-10) took the aforementioned 17-7 lead with 8:31 left in the third quarter, Bucknell (6-5) cut it to a three-point game on a 48-yard touchdown pass to CJ Williams. On VMI's next offensive play, A.J. Augustine was sacked by Dylan McDonnell. McDonnell stripped the ball loose and Bucknell recovered. One play later, Williams ran the ball in from three yards out, giving the visitors a 21-17 lead they would not relinquish. Bucknell added an interception and two more fumble recoveries, including one returned for a touchdown with 95 seconds to go that sealed the win.

In the setback, James Rogers led VMI offensively with six catches for 91 yards. Deon Watts led VMI's ground game with a career-high 45 yards and his first career touchdown, while Augustine was 19 of 30 for 244 yards and a score. Ty Garvin made 11 tackles to pace the Keydets defense.

It was the Bison who got on the board first on the pleasant day that saw temperatures vault into the 50's under clear skies. On their first drive of the game, Brandon Wesley found Will Carter for 19 yards and Bobby Kaslander for 14, helping move his team into VMI territory. Two plays after the completion to Kaslander, Wesley ran the ball around end tackle on a scramble and found the end zone for the game's first score. The point after gave Bucknell a 7-0 lead 4:29 into the contest.

The Keydets tied in on the quarter's final drive. After a Bison turnover at their own 20-yard line, VMI took just five plays to find the end zone. Watts capped the drive with a five-yard touchdown plunge on the final play of the period, and Dillon Christopher's PAT tied the score, 7-7 after one quarter.

Bucknell tried to respond immediately, but after driving to the VMI 31, Wesley coughed up the football and Justin Smith fell on it for a fumble recovery. The Keydets took advantage, using a 10-play drive to move into field goal range for Christopher. The freshman drilled a 52-yard kick, his second field goal of that length in the last three weeks, giving the Keydets a 10-7 lead. The visitors missed a 27-yard field goal try with :36 left in the half, sending the contest to halftime with VMI up, 10-7.

After a Bison punt on their first drive of the second half, the Keydets promptly extended the lead. An 11-play, 60-yard drive, highlighted by a crucial fourth-down conversion, was capped by an eight-yard Augustine touchdown run that extended the lead to 17-7, VMI. On the next Bucknell drive, however, Williams scored on the 48-yard touchdown reception to set the stage for the game's critical turnover and the visitors grabbing the 21-17 lead that they had with 6:30 to go in the third.

The Keydets then turned the ball over on their next two possessions, and on the second, Bucknell capitalized. An eight-play, 34-yard drive that stretched into the fourth quarter ended with a five-yard Wesley touchdown scamper and a 28-17 advantage for the visitors.

VMI was not done, however, as after an exchange of punts, the Keydets took over with 9:08 to go. After two runs by Watts, Augustine found Rogers over the middle for a 35-yard completion. Bucknell defenders attempted to wrestle the ball from him as he went to the ground, and it did come loose. The officials, however, ruled that the play was simultaneous possession and a catch and VMI seized the opportunity on the very next play, as Augustine threw a 35-yard strike to Sam Patterson for a touchdown. It was Patterson's eighth TD grab of the year, tying Mark Stock for the second-most touchdown grabs in a single season in Keydet history.

The two-point conversion try after Patterson's reception was no good, making it 28-23, but VMI got the ball back with 2:42 left, still down by five points. Augustine moved his team to its own 41, but was put under pressure on a 2nd and 4. Rolling to his left, he was hit by lineman Tracey Smith and fumbled. Matt Johnson recovered and ran the miscue in for a Bucknell touchdown that accounted for the final margin.

Bucknell was led by a startling 19-tackle effort from linebacker Evan Byers, while Williams finished with 72 yards on 16 carries and a score. Wesley was 15 of 24 for 204 yards from the quarterback position.

VMI wrapped up the season with new records in total passing yards (2866), breaking the 28-year old mark set in 1985 and touchdown passes (20), surpassing the old record of 17 accomplished twice previously.

Quotes - VMI Head Coach Sparky Woods
"I thought that in the third quarter we decided to go for the win, we kicked the ball off and got it back from them, scored to increase the lead and then we didn't have a great kickoff and then they scored on a busted coverage. The big thing was turnovers. The disappointing thing about the turnovers is that we had the ball in our hands and they stripped it out."

On the Interception
"We were running a post route and they intercepted the ball. It's hard to blame the quarterback (A.J. Augustine) there, the receiver has to beat the corner to the inside route. The corner came and made a great play, came inside on the receiver and stole the ball."

"The disappointing thing I think was the turnovers, catching the ball and turning it over. You drop the ball you lose. They (Bucknell) are a good team. Big and strong, and they have a good quarterback. We didn't run the ball very well. It's tough, they are a strong, physical team and that makes it difficult. We had our opportunities to win and threw those away by turning the ball over."

"One way fumbles happen is when people are trying to get extra yardage and pulling (opponents) and sometimes the ball comes out then. You can't fault them for trying hard for yards. We had a tough time protecting (A.J. Augustine) but that doesn't mean we can turn the ball over."

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