Big win has VMI Football thinking … winning season?

VMI footballVMI Football, famously, has not had a winning season since 1981. There’s still some work for the Keydets to do, but, man, what a game on Saturday.

VMI trailed 38-28 entering the fourth quarter, tied the game at the end of regulation on a 56-yard field goal, scored on the first play of OT, then held Samford on a fourth-down play, in a 48-41 win.

“How much fun was that game?” VMI coach Scott Wachenheim said afterward. “Even if the score didn’t come out in our favor, I would have said the same thing. It was fun to coach and we kept fighting. I thought it was a championship ball game the way that it was played back and forth with numerous momentum swings and both teams competing at high levels.

“Samford came in ready to play and they played hard to the very end, but we found a way to make one more play than they did.”

This is a Samford team with two wins over Top 25 FCS teams this season, and that a year ago beat down VMI by a 73-22 final.

What a difference a year makes. The win gives VMI a 4-3 record with five games left in the regular season, and I have to point out the part about games left in the regular season, because the Keydets are 3-1 in the SoCon, maybe the toughest conference in FCS.

Hey, crazier things have happened, than this team sneaking out a couple more wins, maybe putting itself in a position to play an extra game at the end.

You’ve got Reece Udinski at quarterback mastering the Air Raid, completing 37 of his 46 pass attempts on Saturday, for 390 yards.

Here’s a crazy Udinski stat: he’s thrown 298 passes since his last INT.

Then there’s running back Alex Ramsey. Not even at the top of the depth chart to begin the season, Ramsey has three 100+-yard games, and had 163 yards on 37 carries, with six touchdowns, including the 25-yard game-winner in OT.

Ramsey’s 810 yards and 15 TDs rushing both lead the SoCon.

Udinski’s 2,051 yards passing and 64.4 percent completion rate lead the conference, and he’s thrown 13 TD passes without an INT in 2019.

Four of the top five receivers atop the SoCon chart – Jakob Herres (#1, with 39), Leroy Thomas (#2, with 37), and Ramsey and Javeon Lara (tied for #4, with 32) – are Keydets.

And then there’s that kick by Grant Clemons. There aren’t many Power 5 FBS teams that have kickers who the coach would even send out to try a 56-yarder on the final play to send a game to extra time.

Wachenheim, riverboat gambler that he is, didn’t bat an eyelash.

“I thought Grant Clemons attempting the 56-yard field goal was our best chance to tie the game and try to win in overtime,” Wachenheim said. “He has the leg, had the wind at his back and had made all of his kicks from the right-hash all week in practice. Grant came through like a champion.”

It’s a fun team to watch, and the ceiling isn’t just a winning season.

There, I said it.

Column by Chris Graham


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