VMI Football at Chattanooga Game Day Central
LEXINGTON, Virginia. – After taking on the No. 2 ETSU Bucs in the preseason last week, the VMI football team has another tough test this weekend, visiting nationally ranked Chattanooga on Saturday. Kick-off is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.
VMI SURPRISED BY PRESEASON NO. 2 ETSUs – VMI was able to strike first against ETSU, before the Bucs took a 27-7 lead. As usual, VMI fought all the way, getting two touchdowns from Thomas Le Roy (receiving, rushing) to cut the deficit to 13, but a late fumble returned for a TD locked in the win for ETSU.
SEARCH MOCS – The preseason favorite to win the SoCon, Chattanooga has lived up to the bill so far, posting a 4-1 record with its only loss coming at FCS Illinois. Due to their strong FCS-level play, the Mocs are ranked No. 9 in the coaches’ poll and No. 10 in the Stats Perform Top 25. Chattanooga will also be fresh, coming off its bye week.
HOW THEY RANK – While the offense cannot be overshadowed, the defense has put up strong numbers this season, ranking sixth in FCS in fourth down conversion defense (.167), ninth in tackles for loss (7.8 per game) and 11e in defending the score (16.2). Chattanooga also ranks in the top 20 in punt return defense (14e), team passing efficiency defense (15e), team bags (15e3.2 per game) rushing defense (17e108.4 ypg) and kickoff return defense (18e, 15.67). In addition, the Mocs form an extremely disciplined team, having committed only 19 penalties over the season (3rdFCS), rank 4e penalties per match 20e in fewer penalty yards and 22n/a in fewer penalty yards per game (42.80).
Jay Person averages nearly two tackles per loss per game (6e), with six sacks while preseason defensive player of the year Devonnsha Maxwell has 5.5 tackles for loss, 3-5 sacks and two rushing quarterbacks. The running game is the strength of Chattanooga’s offense, as Ailym Ford’s eight total touchdowns ranks 9th.e among FCS players and rushing yards per game 13e (104.8). Preston Hutchinson does a good job at quarterback, averaging 8 yards per pass attempt (29e), 13.45 passing yards per completion (21st), with four rushing touchdowns this year.
THE SERIES – Chattanooga has the all-time series advantage, with a 17-9-1 record. On the road, VMI went 3-10-1, having last played at Finley Stadium in 2018. The Keydets enter a two-game winning streak against the Mocs on Saturday, winning a 37-34 overtime thriller in which Jerry Rice hit five field goals and Korey Bridy rushed for 165 yards to eliminate Chattanooga’s No. 19 team.
A Win over UTC VMI would be…
–Just be the 4e Keydet wins in Chattanooga
–Be the third straight win in the series for VMI
–Give the Keydets their first win against a top-25 team since last year’s win over Chattanooga
NATIONAL NUMBERS – defensively, Peter Snyder and Evan Eller continue to lead the way, ranking 8e (10.6 tackles per game) and 14e (10.0) among FCS players in tackles per game. Christian Dun got after the quarterback all season, averaging nearly a sack per game (0.80 – 24e, FCS). Although best known for his stats in the running game, senior Korey Bridy has been the go-to guy in kick returns all season, with his 222 total yards ranked 39the national in this category.
STATISTICS AMONG SOCON – Beginner Jahleel Porter and junior Alex Olivier have been an excellent tandem in the secondary, averaging one pass defended per game, tied for 4e among SoCon’s defensive backs. The Keydet defense still holds firm, ranking fifth among SoCon teams in total defense, pass defense efficiency and steals, while pacing the league in fourth defense, keeping teams just 2 out of 10 on fourth down opportunities. Luck Knox (3rd) and Thomas Le Roy (T-7e) both rank in the top 10 in receptions per game (5.8, 4.0), while Knox is 8e in receiving yards per game with 55.2. Defensively, Snyder is only second to ETSU’s Chandler Martin in tackles with 54 so far, while Evan Elller’s 50 puts him third. Christian Dunn ability to get after the quarterback has him third with three sacks and is eighth in tackles for loss (5.0).
THOMAS FOR THE TD – Thomas had one of the best games of his career against ETSU, scoring both a TD on the ground and a TD in the second half. Thomas brought VMI to life late, hitting a 21-yard touchdown before taking an end for the score to make the game a two-possession contest. With 20 catches on the year, Thomas has at least two catches in every game this season.
CAREER DAYS – Thomas’ counterparts also made good outings, with Andre Cooper posting a career-high 4 catches and 53 yards and Jack Caussin had a career-high three receptions, including a career-best 18-yard catch.
TWO DEEP NOTES – With Collin Dacier and Seth Morgan out with injury, first-year quarterback Collin Shannon will make his collegiate debut under center. First-year student Wyatt Hagan – who spelled Morgan for a series last week – will serve as a backup. Mills of Malachi supports John “Tommy” Inge at right guard while Jahleel Porter take the field with Korey Bridy on kick returns.
CLIMBING IN THE GRAPHS – Sent 31st career basket through the West Carolina uprights, Jerry Rice is now tied for second in VMI in career field goals, matching Wade Hawkins’ 31. Rice is now fourth all-time at VMI with 75 PAT, passing Mike Harris, with Jeff Sexton sitting in third place (86).