VMI can't build on fine start in 41-3 loss to Navy
It all started so well for Virginia Military Institute.
The ending, however, was all too familiar.
VMI forced a turnover on Navy's opening series, then moved deftly the other way for a field goal and a 3-0 lead. Those were the highlights for the Keydets, who never scored again in a 41-3 loss Saturday.
VMI fell to 0-9 against the Midshipmen in a lopsided rivalry that began in 1898.
''We played hard, but we just didn't take advantage of the opportunities given us,'' VMI coach Sparky Woods said. ''As the game went on, their offense did what we wanted to stop them from doing. They turned two- to three-yard gains into eight-to-10-yard gains. Plus, we were just not good at sustaining a drive on our offensive end.''
VMI (1-3) has been outscored 88-9 over the last two weeks in losses to Richmond and Navy.
Keydets quarterback Eric Korndenbrock hurt his back while being tackled in the first quarter and did not return until VMI's second series after halftime.
''He got hit on a three-step drop and that shouldn't happen,'' Woods said. ''You have to give credit to Navy for getting pressure on him.''
Kordenbrock went 9 for 16 for 78 yards and two interceptions, and backup A.J. Augustine was 7 for 15 for 54 yards. Augustine, a redshirt junior, had previously thrown only three passes in his college career.
Trey Miller ran for 116 yards and three touchdowns, and Noah Copeland added 126 yards rushing for Navy (1-2).
Navy led by only 10 points in the third quarter before Miller directed a 66-yard drive that ended with his second TD. In the fourth quarter, Miller broke loose in the secondary and vaulted over VMI cornerback James Fruehan on a 40-yard score that made it 27-3.
Earlier in the game, Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo scolded Miller after his second fumble of the game and eighth turnover of the season. Although backup Keenan Reynolds began taking snaps on the sideline, Niumatalolo stayed with Miller.
''I almost made a switch after the second turnover,'' Niumatalolo said.
Miller rewarded Niumatalolo's confidence with a steady performance over the final three quarters.
Despite committing two turnovers - both on fumbles by Miller - Navy more than doubled VMI's offensive yardage (257-110) in taking a 13-3 halftime lead.
Navy's first possession ended with Miller mishandling a snap and losing the ball at the VMI 35. The Keydets then moved 41 yards in 10 plays before Jeff Sexton kicked a 42-yard field goal.
''We thought we had momentum, but we were unable to string three plays together throughout the game,'' Woods said.
On the subsequent drive, the Midshipmen had a first down at the VMI 3 but had to settle for a field goal - their lone first-quarter score this season.
Two plays after the kickoff, Kordenbrock got sandwiched between two tacklers after throwing a second-down pass. He remained on the turf for several minutes before being helped to the sideline.
Near the end of the quarter, Miller lost another fumble after Shawn Lynch returned a punt 40 yards to the VMI 14. Miller fumbled again during Navy's next series, but teammate Josh Cabral recovered the loose ball.
The Midshipmen finally got into the end zone late in the first half, moving 77 yards to take the lead for good. One play after Gee Gee Greene ran 36 yards on a third-and-5, Miller scored from the 7.