Looking to snap a 12-game losing streak to rival The Citadel in the Military Classic of the South, the VMI football team accomplished the feat with a hard fought 34-21 victory over the Bulldogs Oct. 5, 2019, in Charleston, South Carolina.
With the win, VMI (3-3, 2-1 SoCon) earned its first win over The Citadel since Nov. 16, 2002, a 23-21 victory contested in Charlotte, North Carolina (the schools only competed sporadically from 2003-14 during VMI’s tenure in the Big South Conference). It was also the Keydets’ first win in Charleston since a 34-7 victory Nov. 11, 1995.
Reece Udinski ’21, quarterback, threw his ninth career 300-yard passing game by totaling 335 yards through the air on 25-35 passing and zero interceptions. He earned a new SoCon record for consecutive passes without an interception as he now has thrown 252 passes without a pick, surpassing Elon quarterback Scott Riddle’s mark of 218 set between the 2008 and 2009 seasons.
Another crucial element to VMI’s victory was that the Keydets did not commit a turnover for a second straight week and third time this season. VMI now has a +8 turnover margin for the year.
“Everybody on the team did their job,” said Scott Wachenheim, VMI head coach. “They kept believing, and it was awesome to have the Corps here. I’m just thrilled to bring the shako back to Lexington. Give credit to The Citadel, they kept playing to the very end.
“I thought Coach Brian Sheppard called a heck of a game on offense and never apologized for attacking. Coach Clark on defense holding them to under rushing 100 yards as an option team? Just outstanding. And our players – Reece Udinski [’21] and Jakob Herres [’22] – were outstanding playing through pain and grit. Some of our guys came back from adversity early with Kaleb Tucker [’20] and Javeon Lara [’20] coming back to make big plays later in the game. Grant Clemons was also big making all the extra points and field goals.”
The Citadel opened the game on an eight-play, 75 drive on their first possession capped by a Brandon Rainey two-yard keeper to move quickly on the Keydets with an early 7-0 advantage.
On the Bulldogs’ ensuing possession, Liam Kauthen ’22, VMI linebacker, recovered a fumble forced by Brett Howell at the VMI 46. The Keydets tied the game at 7-7 late in the first quarter with a nine-yard pass to Herres in the left corner of the end zone on a fourth and 1 from the Bulldog nine.
“The fumble recovery by Kauthen in the first quarter was humongous,” Wachenheim said. “They were up early with a 7-0 lead and that was a game-changing momentum play.”