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The defense kept VMI in the game early, but the offense was held to 79 yards and four first downs.
Virginia defensive tackle Brent Urban (99) pressures VMI quarterback Eric Kordenbrock (14) on Saturday. The Cavaliers limited VMI to just 79 total yards and four first downs.
Sunday, September 22, 2013
CHARLOTTESVILLE — VMI’s football players got taped up in Lexington early Saturday morning and then climbed on the bus for an hour-long trip to Scott Stadium to play a game that few thought they could possibly win.
Sure, the program received a much-needed $325,000 check to show. And for the first 25 minutes, the Keydets did much more, playing the role of the mighty underdog to the hilt.
Seismic upset? These soldiers were ready to march to the tune.
“We’re down 7-0 midway in the second quarter and it only takes it one play to make it 7-7,’’ VMI quarterback Eric Kordenbrock said. “That’s what I was thinking. Hey, our defense was doing what it needed to do, so let’s just keep moving the ball, doing the little things here and we’ll break a play.
“That’s how it happens — big plays come from ordinary plays. Me and [center] Will Lucas are looking at the board and we’re like: ‘Man we’re in this game and we’re saying we can do this.’”
Then the 45-point favorite home team decked the intruders — scoring two touchdowns in 69 seconds to bolt to a 21-zip halftime lead.
Despite an encouraging start in which its defense stopped UVa’s offense on downs the first two series, and then shut down the next thrust with an interception, VMI couldn’t make any hay offensively in the 49-0 beatdown. Dominating the trenches with a five-man front that was in Kordenbrock’s face all day long, UVa put Kordenbrock & Co. on lockdown, limiting the visitors to an obscene four first downs and 79 total yards.
“Their defensive line was big, strong and fast, and we expected that,’’ said Kordenbrock, who was limited to 9-for-27 passing for 38 yards. “Even when they weren’t getting through the offensive line they were jumping up on three-step passes for us and swatting the balls. It’s difficult to move the ball when they’re doing that.
“That said, I’m proud that no one on offense ever stopped and came back to the huddle and said, ‘man, forget this, I’m done.’ I looked in all my guys’ eyes and they were ready to play and ready to ball so that’s something positive to take away from this loss. It’s really difficult to look up at the scoreboard and see we’re not moving the ball at all, especially when our defense is making plays.”
VMI coach Sparky Woods knew what his outmanned unit was getting into long before hopping the bus east. The bottom line was go play, pick up a check, and get your rear-end handed to you.
“Obviously, they were stronger than us up front, especially their defensive line matched against our offensive line,’’ Woods said. “They stopped our three-step passing game because they were knocking down passes well. The biggest trouble for us was trying to get something done against their front.
“I thought our defense played as hard as they could. They had to play too much. We couldn’t get any first downs and they had to go back out there and play.”
Offensively, VMI (1-3) made UVa (2-1) look like the 1985 Chicago Bears on defense.
“I was pretty embarrassed how we played offensively,” Lucas said. “I think this is the best offensive unit we’ve had and we just failed to execute today. I thought most of our breakdowns were mental. If we had been on the right guys we weren’t going to push them down the field, but we could have held them long enough to give Eric time.”
Was it worth the nearly third of $1 million to play this game. Woods said so.
“We need the money,’’ he said.
Plus, the VMI corps was given a weekend furlough to bust off post and have some fun. Fourteen busses carrying the school’s 1,650 cadets rolled in before kickoff. As the UVa fans filed for the exits in the rain late in the game, the cadets dressed in black were hanging and hollering from the upper deck until the final snap.
“Isn’t that something?” Kordenbrock said. “All I cared about was the win. I’m sure other people, especially our rats, they want the win, too. It’s nice to see them have a free weekend and get away from the rat line.
“I don’t really care about the paycheck. All I wanted was a shot. We got it and that’s something you’ll never forget.”
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