VMI football opening spring scrimmage is offensive showcase

vmi_logoVMI’s first spring football scrimmage started with a long scoring play, but the defense rebounded to control the second half as the Keydets conducted their first extended scrimmage of drills Saturday afternoon at Foster Stadium.

The first play of the 85-snap scrimmage produced the afternoon’s longest play as redshirt sophomore quarterback Hayden Alford connected with junior wide receiver Sam Patterson for a 65-yard touchdown that set the tone for the first two offensive series. The “O” unit generated four quick first downs before the defense forced a punt on the third series and produced another stop on a three-and-out in the next possession to turn the momentum.

The defense held the offense to limited scoring opportunities for the remainder of the afternoon, but the offense did generate some noteworthy performances.

Senior running back Deon Watts, who has shuttled between running back and receiver in his first three years as a Keydet, led all ground gainers with 111 yards on 14 carries and ripped off a 48-yard burst on his final carry of the day. The Powhatan, Va. native scored on an eight-yard run in a goal line situation of the scrimmage.

Redshirt senior wide receiver Doug Burton turned in three catches for 46 yards that sustained several offensive drives. Sophomore Taylor Stout added 30 yards on seven rushing attempts.

The defense stymied the offense by picking off three passes and recovering a fumble. Redshirt sophomore free safety Alex Keys stepped in front of a Ryan Swingle pass on the eighth possession of the day, and later junior free safety Alex James and redshirt sophomore cornerback Jon Strozyk produced interceptions.

The defense was also led by redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Joe Nelson who had three solo tackles and corralled quarterback Alford in the end zone for a safety. Sophomore inside linebacker Darnell Ashton also had four solo tackles and two quarterback hurries.

Sophomore placekicker Dillon Christopher converted two of three field goal tries with makes of 22 and 21 yards and the newport news native made good on both extra point tries. Alford punted twice for a 35.0 yard average.

The scrimmage saw six flags dropped with four on the offense for 25 yards and two on the defensive side for 25 yards.

The Keydets will hold a final scrimmage on Saturday, April 26th at 2 pm at Foster Stadium.


“We had a real competitive scrimmage with over 80 plays and we got out without anyone really getting hurt. I saw some good plays, but also some bad plays that would keep us from winning. We turned the ball over and had some penalties as well as a safety. I thought some skill guys made some good plays and we were physical on the line of scrimmage. Everybody got to work and that was huge. It was a typical first scrimmage. We were aggressive and competitive. I thought it was a good scrimmage.”

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