The Citadel retains the Silver Shako!

The 'Dogs celebrate retainin the Silver Shako for another year.

The ‘Dogs celebrate retainin the Silver Shako for another year. Russ Pace, The Citadel

Staff reports from Postandcourier.com
Nov 22 2014 5:35 pm

LEXINGTON, Va. – The Citadel retained the coveted Silver Shako with a 45-25 win over VMI on Saturday, capping a 5-7 season that first-year coach Mike Houston hopes sets a foundation for better things in the future.

Freshman Isiaha Smith ran for 134 yards and a touchdown, and senior Jake Stenson added 120 yards and a score for The Citadel before 7,097 fans at Foster Stadium. Five Bulldogs ran for TDs and Alex Glover caught his first career TD pass as The Citadel won for the eighth straight time over VMI and finished the year at 3-4 in the Southern Conference.

Houston’s five wins are the most for a first-year Citadel coach since Art Baker went 5-6 in 1978. “Obviously, we wanted a better record,” said Houston. “It’s tough going 5-7. But at the end of the day, the things I’ll reflect back on are that we established a physical nature within our program that we want to play with. We had a character base that was already here from coach (Kevin Higgins) and built on that. I do think our guys believe in what we are doing, and the bar will be set higher every year.”

The big question in Houston’s second season will be quarterback. Senior Aaron Miller played his final game on Saturday, running for a TD and throwing a 32-yard pass to Glover for another score. Miller finished the season, his only one as a starter, with 1,080 rushing yards, second in the SoCon and third-best all-time for a Citadel quarterback. His 932 passing yards left him 68 short of becoming the first Bulldog to rush and pass for at least 1,000 yards in the same season.

“That will be the big question,” Houston said. “Who will step in Aaron Miller’s shoes?” The big question at VMI concerns Sparky Woods’ future as the Keydets’ coach. Saturday’s loss put the Keydets at 2-10 overall and 1-6 in the SoCon, and Woods at 17-62 in seven seasons in the final year of his contract.

The Citadel jumped to a 21-0 lead over VMI as Miller scored on a 1-yard run, then hit Glover behind the defense for a 32-yard score. Tyler Renew’s 23-yard TD run made it 21-0 midway through the second quarter. But the Keydets rallied behind true freshman QB Al Cobb, who hit 27 of 43 passes for 396 yards and two touchdowns. His 5-yard TD pass to Dane Forlines brought the Keydets to within 21-13 before Eric Goins kicked a 30-yard field goal for a 24-13 Citadel lead at the half. Cobb threw 28 yards to Aaron Sanders for a TD that made it 24-19 early in the third quarter, and it looked like the game was on.

But The Citadel answered with three straight touchdown runs, of eight yards by Jake Stenson, seven yards by freshman slotback Reggie Williams and 16 yards by Smith. Smith dragged a VMI defender into the end zone for a 45-19 lead with 26 seconds left in the third quarter. Eleven Citadel seniors went out with a win in their final game.

“I feels good to get a win to finish the season,” Houston said. “We are so much better a team than 5-7. So for our seniors to go out with a win like this over VMI and take that trophy back to Charleston, it’s a significant achievement.”

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