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VMI football hangs tough, but falls at NC State, 45-7

VMI Keydets (WSET)
VMI Keydets (WSET)
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Facing an ACC opponent for a second straight season, the VMI Football Team fell by a 45-7 score to host North Carolina State Saturday afternoon at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Collin Shannon got his first start of the season and third of his career, playing admirably by throwing for 176 (14-24) yards and one touchdown (Egypt Nelson, 22-yard catch).

“I give North Carolina State a lot of credit. They are a good football team, and they didn’t play down today, said VMI Football Coach Danny Rocco. “I spoke all week about starting fast and striking early, but they did not allow that to happen. It’s a talented team, it’s a good team and they came with the right mindset today that they were going to set the tempo of the game, and they put us in a place early that we were having to play catch up.”

Key Stats

  • Eight Keydets record a catch led by Egypt Nelson’s 107 yards and a touchdown (first career TD)
  • Jack Culbreath punts seven times for 323 yards (46.1 avg.), three kicks pinned inside the 20
  • 24 Keydets record a tackle led by Evan Eller (11.0), Josh Knapp (9.0)
  • Chandler Wilson sees first action of year after Shannon goes down with injury
  • N.C. State’s Kendrick Raphael leads team with 85 yards on 16 carries, Pack receiver Kevin Concepcion tallies 62 receiving yards on seven catches
  • Wolfpack defense totals three sacks, limits VMI to 15 yards on the ground
  • VMI commits just three penalties for 30 yards, but finishes 1-10 on third down attempts
  • Keydets possess the ball for 20:57 and 45 total plays

A Closer look

They Keydets went three and out to start, with State marching down and jumping in front 7-0. The Wolfpack would capitalize on a tipped ball and take a 14-0 lead. On the ensuing VMI possession, Aidan Twombly picked up a third-down conversion and nearly was off to the races two plays later, but Payton Wilson broke up the play fake.

Midway through the second, Shannon found Egypt Nelson for a 44-yard reception to move the ball into N.C. State territory, but the Wolfpack settled in and got the ball back, two scores and a field goal before half.

Shannon and rookie Egypt Nelson got things going in the third, as Nelson hauled in a 41-yard reception, drawing a pass interference and scoring his first career touchdown to get Keydets on the board in the third.

N.C. State was quick to strike back, taking the ensuing kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown, adding one more score midway through the fourth to close out the contest 45-7.

Catching up with Coach (Rocco)

On what the team can take from the Game

“Well we played a lot of guys. As the game went on, we had a lot of guys get their first real taste of Division I footballOur guys never stopped playing hard. It’s a never-say-die attitude and that’s something you can take away from that.”

On how the game Finished

“They were well-coached. I think Coach (Doeren) showed a lot of class late at the end of the game. There’s a lot of different ways you can finish a football game leading by a score like that, but I just felt like he made big-picture decisions and I admired the way the game finished on his end.”

On the Quarterback Situation

“Ironside practiced last week but minimally, and we just felt like it would be in his best interest to not play him in this game. And then as you saw Collin Shannon went down and was not able to return so we have a situation that could be difficult to resolve this week, but I will remain optimistic and hopeful that we can have one or both of those guys available and practicing this week.”

Looking at Conference play

“Well, I used the language of preseason before. And the way our schedule is set up, we have eight straight conference games so in theory that’s what we are most motivated for. I think the biggest prizes and the things we endear the most are still out in front of us.”

What’s Next

The Keydets will turn the page to Southern Conference play, hosting Wofford on Saturday. Kickoff is slated for 1:30 p.m. at Foster Stadium.

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