Second-half outburst dooms VMI

Thirty-five second half points, including 21 in the third quarter, broke open a close game and propelled the Stony Brook Seawolves past the VMI Keydets, 42-14, in Big South football action Saturday at VMI’s Foster Stadium in Lexington, Va.

Early on, the contest was a defensive struggle, with the only points coming on a late Stony Brook (4-3, 2-0 Big South) drive that gave the Seawolves a 7-0 halftime lead. The visitors then scored 21 points in the first six minutes of the second half, including 14 in a nine-second span at one point, to take a 28-0 advantage.

VMI responded with an 81-yard touchdown pass, as Adam Morgan hooked up with Aaron Lewis for the seventh-longest pass play in school history, but Stony Brook notched the next 14 points, including a 60-yard touchdown run by Miguel Maysonet, to take a 42-7 edge with 12:09 to play. Chaz Jones had a three-yard touchdown run with 5:13 to play, accounting for the final margin and moving him into eighth place on the Institute’s all-time rushing touchdown list, with his 17th career TD rush.

SBU’s Kyle Essington threw for 255 yards and two touchdowns, while the vaunted Seawolf rushing attack gained 228 yards on the ground, led by Maysonet’s 141. VMI used three quarterbacks, led by Eric Kordenbrock’s 14 for 26 effort. Morgan was 2 for 7 for 90 yards, and A.J. Augustine made his collegiate debut by going 0 for 3 on VMI’s final possession. In addition, Mike Smith had a career-high 11 tackles for the Keydets.

Neither team threatened in the first quarter, as the squads combined for seven punts and just 73 yards of total offense. Stony Brook had the first sustained drive of the game, as they had the ball at the end of the opening period and start of the second quarter. Their eight-play, 40-yard drive included a 21-yard pass from Essington to Kevin Norrell, but one play later, Charlie Jones forced a Maysonet fumble and A.J. Gross recovered at the Keydet 22, giving VMI the ball with 11:59 left in the half.

The next three drives, two by VMI and one by the visitors, ended in punts, and Stony Brook took over with 4:27 left in the half in a scoreless contest. After an incompletion to start the drive, Essington found Norrell for back to back first downs, putting the ball into Keydet territory. Three plays later, Matt Brevi had a 23-yard catch and run on third down, putting the ball at the Keydet 2, and Essington scored on third down, taking advantage of a bootleg and running in from one yard out. The touchdown and point after came with 27 seconds left in the half, and gave the Seawolves a 7-0 halftime lead.

Despite the touchdown drive, Stony Brook had still been held to just 51 yards rushing in the first half, but the tide of the game turned quickly after halftime. VMI’s opening kickoff went out of bounds, giving SBU a short field, and the visitors took advantage.

A second down pass from Essington to Jordan Gush went for 23 yards, and two plays later, the Seawolf quarterback found Norrell on a post pattern down the middle of the field. Norrell went up for the ball, which appeared to be slightly underthrown, and was able to come down with it in the endzone for the 31-yard touchdown, giving SBU a 14-0 lead just 2:33 into the second half.

After a Keydet three-and-out, the Seawolves came back once again. On first down, Maysonet galloped for 37 yards, and one play later, Essington found Gush for 18 yards, moving the ball to the VMI 15. Two runs for Brock Jackolski, the last of which covered seven yards, got the visitors in the endzone at the 9:16 mark. The point after made it 21-0, SBU.

On the ensuing kickoff, Tracy Hairston returned the ball to the VMI 29, but was hit there by SBU’s Jawara Dudley. Hairston fumbled the ball, Grant Nakwaasah grabbed it and brought it back for a touchdown, giving the Seawolves 14 points in nine seconds and a 28-0 edge.

Morgan relieved Kordenbrock at quarterback, and was able to move the chains, but SBU’s defense held and forced a punt. The Seawolves had to punt as well, giving VMI the ball with 4:18 left in the quarter, and the Keydets took advantage. Morgan lofted a deep pass for Lewis, who caught the pattern near the right hash mark and outraced the defender to the endzone for the 81-yard touchdown pass. The point after cut the lead to 28-7, as the completion was the seventh-longest pass play in school history, just one yard further than an 80-yard effort (Kordenbrock-Mario Scott) against the Seawolves last season on Long Island.

Stony Brook responded with a 10-play, 83-yard drive on which Essington went 6 for 6, ending on an eight-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Gush, on which the quarterback rolled to his right and threaded three Keydet defenders with the bullet pass to the corner of the endzone. Gush was ruled in bounds for the touchdown, and Wesley Skiffington’s extra point made it 35-7, SBU.

After a VMI punt, Maysonet took a handoff with 12:19 to go, carrying it off tackle and into the second level of defense, where he found an extra gear and galloped for a 60-yard touchdown run, SBU’s longest play of the day and their final score of the afternoon as well. Skiffington added the point after, giving the visitors a 42-7 advantage. The teams traded punts, giving the Keydets the ball with 8:01 to go.

Kordenbrock returned to the game and went 5 for 5 on the drive, including three passes to James Rogers, and Jones carried the ball in from three yards out to cap the six-play, 83-yard drive and make it SBU 42, VMI 14 with 5:13 to go. That would cap the day’s scoring.

By moving into eighth on VMI’s all-time rushing touchdown list, Jones surpassed Howard Abegesah and Sam Horner’s 16 career TD runs. Rogers had five catches, while Norrell led Stony Brook with eight grabs for 129 yards.

VMI will be back in action next Saturday, as the Keydets travel to Charleston, S.C. to play The Citadel in a resumption of the Military Classic of the South series. Game time is set for 1 p.m.

QUOTES – VMI Head Coach Sparky Woods

“It was a shame to start the second half the way we did. We had the wind and we kicked the ball out of bounds. You can’t do that if you want to win. We’ve just got to put a whole game together. They (Stony Brook) have a good team, and you cannot make mistakes against them. They scored on the first drive of the second half, and later, we had the kickoff return taken back for a touchdown after the fumble. You can’t get behind like that. We got a touchdown and got everyone excited a bit, but too many errors in the first part of the third quarter made it tough for us.”

“We had too many three-and-outs on offense. If we’re going to win, we’ve got to try to score and not just lay on the ball. We gave up too many big plays, and long runs and long passes for touchdowns. We have to tackle and get them off the field. We have to force them to go three-and-out.”

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