VMI falls to East Tennessee State, 24-20
The Keydets (5-1) can still win their first conference football title if they can defeat The Citadel in Lexington on April 17.
Holmes scored on a four-yard rush with 12:26 left in the fourth quarter that put the Bucs (4-1) up for good in a game that had three lead changes.
VMI jumped out to a quick 10-0 lead on a Seth Morgan two-yard touchdown run to open the scoring at 10:29 of the first quarter and added a 27-yard field goal by Jerry Rice at the 4:07 mark. Morgan was 7 for 7 for 74 yards passing and found wide receiver Jake Herres four times for 72 yards on the opening drive of the game.
The Bucs got on the board with a nine-play, 70-yard drive capped by a Holmes one-yard dive into the end zone with :21 left in the first quarter. A 29-yard strike from ETSU quarterback Brock Landis to Will Huzzie to VMI 3 set up the score.
The Keydets answered with a 17-play, 76-yard drive and added another 20-yard field goal by Rice to extend the margin to 13-7 with 9:25 left in the second quarter.
The Bucs pulled within 13-10 before halftime when they effectively converted third and fourth down conversions to salvage a 27-yard field goal by Tyler Keltner.
ETSU opened the second half with a 51-yard kick returnby Holmes aided by a forward fumble recovered by the Bucs at the VMI 31 and punched it in the endzone seven plays later when Landis hit Huzzie on a 9-yard slant in the end zone to give the Bucs their first lead of the day, 17-13 just four minutes into the second half. ETSU’s second drive of the half started at the VMI 42 following an interception by Alijah Huzzie, but the VMI defense came up with a stop as Keltner’s 35-yard attempt was wide left.
VMI marched 80 yards on the ensuing drive and retook the lead, 20-17, following a three-yard touchdown rush by Grant Swinehart with 1:58 remaining in the third quarter. Morgan completed six of seven passes for 61 yards and ran for 14 more in keying the scoring possession.
ETSU answered right back with a drive that would put them up for good – nine plays and 69 yards – following Holmes’ second touchdown of the afternoon.
VMI threatened but could not retake the lead as its final three possessions of the fourth quarter ended on downs, a punt, and a fumble at the ETSU 35.
Morgan, making his second college start, turned in another 300-yard passing game after completing 36 of 46 passes for 315 yards. Herres added eight catches for 101 yards while Chance Knox caught seven passes for 64 yards.
VMI outgained the Bucs, 382-275, and generated 24 first downs, but was limited to 67 yards rushing.
Landis completed 11 of 27 passes for 148 yards and one touchdown to lead ETSU to its third straight win.
The VMI-The Citadel game April 17 at Foster Stadium will kick off at 1:30 p.m.