Keydet Football Posts Second Straight Winning Campaign in 2021

football players mid-tackle

Stone Snyder ’22 makes a tackle at Cornell University Sept. 18, a 31-21 victory for the Keydets. Snyder logged six tackles during the contest, including five solo, and had a 20-yard fumble recovery in the opening quarter to set up VMI’s first touchdown.—Photo by Chuck Steenburgh ’86.

In fall 2021, VMI football continued to rewrite VMI football history.

Fresh off its first Southern Conference title in 43 years, which was captured the previous spring, VMI posted a 6-5 record to give the program its first back-to-back winning seasons since 1961-62.

The Keydets, picked to finish third in the 2021 fall SoCon coaches’ preseason poll, were a viable contender for another SoCon crown until week 10 of the season when key injuries to several impactful players took their toll. VMI also returned to the FCS national rankings during the season, attaining as high as the No. 17 spot before dropping out of the Top 25 in November.

2021 will be remembered as the year of the comeback as VMI rallied to several exciting victories at Foster Stadium. The Keydets overcame two 11-point second-half deficits to dispatch No. 19 Chattanooga in overtime, 37-34, on Family Weekend Oct. 9, then pulled off an astonishing 46-45 win against Samford Oct. 30, rallying from a 21-point late second-quarter deficit for the conference win at Foster Stadium.

Here are some notable achievements of the 2021 fall season.

-VMI posted at least five wins for the third consecutive season—something that had not been achieved since the 1960-62 timespan.

-VMI went 4-1 at Foster Stadium for its first four-victory home season since 2008.

-The Keydets posted a dominating 45-7 road victory against Mercer Oct. 16, a team previously unbeaten in conference play. VMI rolled up 306 yards rushing on the ground for its most in a single game since 2009.

-VMI, fueled by a high-performing offense that averaged 42.7 points and 524.7 yards, won three consecutive games in October for the first time since 2002.

-Twelve VMI football cadet-athletes earned spots on the 2021 Southern Conference postseason squads. Landing first team all-conference honors on both the coaches and media teams were Stone Snyder ’23, linebacker, and Warren Dabney ’22, defensive lineman. Earning spots on both teams with at least a first team representation on either squad were Jerry Rice ’23, placekicker (first team coaches, second team media); Robert Soderholm ’22, long snapper (first team coaches, second team media); Nick Hartnett ’22, offensive lineman (first-team media, second team coaches); and Jack Culbreath ’24, punter (first team media, second team coaches). Voted to all-conference second teams were Michael Jackson ’22 and Jakob Herres ’22, wide receivers (coaches and media); Ethan Caselberry ’22, defensive back (coaches and media); and Aljareek Malry ’23, defensive back (coaches). Hunter Rice ’25, running back, and Kandler Martin ’25, outside linebacker, earned honors on the All-Freshman team voted by the league coaches.

-Snyder led the Southern Conference in tackles for the second straight season, averaging 10.9 per game. He had 49 solos and 71 assists for 120 total tackles and posted double-digit tackles in six games in 2021, giving him 12 for his career. Snyder led the team in TFL (11 for 36 yards), sacks (4), quarterback hurries (5), and fumble recoveries with (3). Snyder was named SoCon defensive player of the week Sept. 27 after a season-best 19 tackles and was also selected to the 2021 Buck Buchanan Top 25 Watch list for the second straight year.

-Herres, the returning All-American wide receiver, battled through injuries throughout the year but still caught 47 passes for 500 yards and five touchdowns. He finished his career as VMI’s all-time TD reception leader with 26, just eight receptions shy of school record holder Aaron Sanders ’17 (2013-16) and 85 yards behind all-time receiving yardage leader Mark Stock ’88 (1984-88). Herres had nine catches for 115 yards against The Citadel Oct. 2 for his 13th career 100-yard game.

-With 525 yards total offense against Samford Oct. 30, Seth Morgan ’23, VMI redshirt sophomore quarterback, set a new VMI single-game total offense record. Morgan completed 28 of 42 passes for 472 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 53 yards in the 46-45 win over the Bulldogs. The 472 yards was also the second-highest single-game mark by a VMI quarterback in program history—behind only Reece Udinski’s [’21] 491 yards against Western Carolina in 2018. Morgan’s 400-plus yard game against Samford was only the fifth all-time in school history, and he later added a sixth when he passed for 415 yards against Furman Nov. 13.

-Rice, a placekicker, converted 17 of 19 field goals on the season and was 39 of 39 in extra points and led the SoCon in most field goals made and was second in field goal accuracy (89.5%). Rice finished the year hitting nine straight field goals and had six field goals of 40+ yards, including a career-long 49-yarder against Chattanooga Oct. 9. Rice was five for five in FGs against Chattanooga and hit a 37-yarder for the game-winner in OT and was named SoCon special teams player of the week.

-Jackson, a wide receiver, led the team in receiving yardage (695) and touchdowns (6) and caught a career-high 13 passes for 177 yards and three touchdowns at Furman Nov. 13. He helped rally VMI from a 21-point deficit in a win over Samford with 10 catches for a career-high 211 yards (5th most in VMI history) and a game-winning touchdown with 3:14 left.

-Korey Bridy ’22 had a superb senior year cut short by injury but still had 100-yard rushing games against Wofford (career-high 171 yards) and Chattanooga (165 yards).

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared at