#19 Western Carolina holds off VMI, 26-7

vmi footballThe 19th-ranked Western Carolina Catamounts scored the final 26 points of the game on the way to a 26-7 win over the VMI Keydets in SoCon football action Saturday at Foster Stadium in Lexington.

VMI (0-8, 0-5 SoCon) jumped ahead with a touchdown late in the first quarter, scoring first for the third time in its last four games, but WCU (6-2, 4-1) took advantage of a Duncan Hodges interception midway through the second quarter to drive for a touchdown and take the lead for good. The Catamounts led 13-7 at halftime and held the ball for over 20 minutes in the second half to preserve the victory.

In the setback, VMI was led by Allan Cratsenberg’s 18 tackles. The effort moved him to within 10 of Melvin Rucker ’83’s 399 tackles, a total that ranks third in school history. Cratsenberg was just two tackles shy of becoming the third player in school history with multiple games of at least 20 tackles.

He added his team-leading third interception as well as part of a defensive effort that held WCU to its second-lowest rushing total of the season (191 yards) and had 10 tackles for loss, the most by the Keydets since posting 11 last year against ETSU.

WCU was paced by Tyrie Adams, as the Catamount quarterback ran for 70 yards and threw for 195 and a score on a day where he was 20 for 33 through the air. Terryon Robinson, his top receiver, grabbed nine passes for 91 yards and the touchdown.

After a dramatic first quarter that featured a game-opening onside kick by the Keydets, which they recovered, and a VMI fumble on a field goal snap that led to a failed fake attempt, the Keydets finally broke through late in the first quarter. They drove 70 yards on 11 plays, with seven of the plays being runs. Hodges wrapped it with a one-yard sneak to put the home team up, 7-0.

WCU answered on its next drive with a 17-play, 69-yard effort, but the Keydet defense held in the red zone and forced a 22-yard field goal to cut the margin to 7-3. WCU took the lead for good less than three minutes later, as on the fifth play of VMI’s next possession, Hodges was intercepted by Tre Hardy to give the visitors a short field. It took just four plays for Adams to find Robinson for a 29-yard score, making it 10-7.

A field goal as the first half clock ran out made it 13-7 at the break.

Western tacked on two more second half field goals, and wrapped up the scoring with a two-yard touchdown run by Corey Holloway that accounted for the final margin, 26-7.

VMI football will return to action next Saturday, when the Keydets travel to Charleston, S.C. to take on The Citadel. Kickoff in the Military Classic of the South is set for 2 p.m.