VMI loses at Akron to fall to 0-4

The Akron Zips rolled up 534 yards total offense including 359 in the first half to post a 36-13 win over VMI Saturday afternoon before a crowd of 14,257 at InfoCision Stadium.

The Zips won their first game of the year and utilized a balanced offensive attack to subdue the Keydets. Akron redshirt freshman running back Jawon Chisolm rushed for 154 yards on 20 carries in the opening half and finished the day with a career-high 188 yards and one touchdown, while sophomore wideout Keith Sconiers caught seven passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns. On the day Akron gained 294 yards on the ground and 240 through the air on 81 total offensive snaps.

VMI’s scores came on a 39-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Eric Kordenbrock to junior receiver Stefawn Ross late in the first quarter and a Chaz Jones 3-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

Akron controlled the ball for 37:44 of the game including nearly 12 minutes in the first quarter alone.

The Zips (1-3) threw long on their first play of the game as Sconiers hauled in a 41-yard reception from sophomore quarterback Clayton Moore to the VMI 37. After a pair of rushes by Chisholm for 16 yards, Bennett connected with Sconiers for a 31-yard touchdown strike. Placekicker T.J. Marchese missed the extra-point and the score remained 6-0, Akron with 12:45 left in the first quarter.

The Keydets’ Tracy Hairston took the ensuing kickoff to the VMI 43 and had an offsides penalty push the ball to the VMI 48 when VMI snapped its first play of the afternoon. Jones rushed 11 yards to the Akron 41, but an 8-yard sack and jarring hit on VMI quarterback Eric Korenbrock resulted in a fumble recovery by Akron’s Nico Caponi at the Zip 47 that squelched VMI’s first possession.

After an exchange of punts, Akron went to the ground and churned out an eight-play, 60-yard drive capped by freshman running back Karl Bostick’s 17-yard burst off tackle to the endzone. Marchese’s extra point made it 13-0 with 7:02 to go in the opening quarter. Chisholm contributed five rushed for 33 yards on the drive.

VMI responded quickly with its first points of the day set up by a Hairston kick return to the Akron 39. Two plays later, Kordenbrock floated a 39-yard TD pass to Ross down the right sideline for his third TD pass of the year and the first career scoring reception for Ross. After Jeff Sexton’s extra point, VMI cut the deficit to 13-7 with 6:04 left in the first quarter.

The score remained that way until 36 seconds left in the first quarter when Marchese booted a 26-yard field goal to cap a 12-play, 69-yard drive that was aided by a running into the punter penalty after the Keydets had forced the Zips to punt from midfield.

VMI moved to the Akron 37 on the ensuing drive, but Koredenbrock was sacked for a 10-yard loss by tackle Dan Marcoux and the Keydets were forced to punt. Akron failed to move the ball and after an exchange of punts, the Zips put together their longest drive of the day moving 72 yards in 10 plays utilizing two key third down conversion and a face mask penalty to set up a 10-yard touchdown pass from Moore to Sconiers with 6:34 left in the half. Akron’s run attempt for the two-point conversion failed and the Zips took a 22-7 lead with 7:02 left in second quarter.

VMI moved to the Akron 38 on the ensuing drive following an 11-yard pass from Koredenbrock to Hairston, but the drive stalled with a 2-yard loss sandwiched by a pair of incompletions to force the Keydets to punt to the Akron 15. Chisolm ripped off a 33-yard jaunt on Akron’s first play of the next drive that helped set up a seven-play, 9-yard possession capped by a Chishom touchdown run from 9 yards out. Marchese booted through the extra point at the 1:46 mark and Akron took a 29-7 lead into halftime.

After a scoreless third quarter, both teams managed one score in the final frame as Moore connected on his third TD pass of the afternoon on a 23-yard pass to Jerrod Dilliard with 8:28 left in the game. VMI capped the scoring when Jones slammed in from three yards out to give the Cleveland native his fourth rushing touchdown of the year.

Moore completed 13 of 28 passes for 223 yards and three scores to help the Zips even the gridiron series in just the second ever meeting between the schools.

Kordenbrock connected on 13 of 29 attempts for 133 yards while Adam Morgan came in the fourth quarter and completed one of two passes for six yards. Defensive back Micheal Johnson led the Keydets defensive charts with a career-high 12 tackles including five solos and safety Demetrius Phillips added a career-high nine tackles in his first college start. VMI racked up six tackles for loss for 16 yards. Hairston finished with 162 all-purpose yards including 131 on kickoffs.

VMI (0-4, 0-0) will have an off-week before resuming action at Coastal Carolina in Saturday, October 8 at 7 p.m. in a televised Big South Conference opener in Conway, South Carolina.

QUOTES – VMI Head Coach Sparky Woods

“Akron did a good job of controlling the ball on both sides of the line of scrimmage. We had trouble protecting for the downfield pass and they batted down a bunch of the short passes.   On defense, we have to play the run better and we got hurt early on double moves – our corners have to play man on that. We had a couple of turnovers on offense and we didn’t get any on defense – we’ve got to get some of those. We’ve got to control the ball to get the defense off the field, but the defense has to get itself off the field, too. They had too many third down conversions that went for big plays. Credit Akron, they had a big strong football team and they stayed with their game plan and as the game went on they had the clock on their side.

“I think we will find later in the film that we executed a little bit better than we thought, but we just got beat in individual battles at times. It’s been hard for us to put together more than a 1-2 plays together at a time. We’ll go back to try to evaluate where we are and get those guys back healthy and ready for conference play.”


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