Playoff football is finally here and this past Saturday 20,000 plus fans packed into S.B. Ballard stadium to watch the Old Dominion University Monarchs take on Coastal Carolina University. The third seeded Monarchs, coming off of a bye week, didn’t look rusty as they jumped out to an early 21-7 lead. They were once again led by sophomore sensation Taylor Heinecke whose 542 yards of total offense set an FCS single game playoff record. He also tied the FCS single game touchdown mark with six touchdown passes and added two rushing touchdowns to his stats. Thanks to Heinicke’s record day, Old Dominion was able to come away with a lopsided 63-35 victory.
Heinecke was especially sharp in a decisive fourth quarter in which ODU scored 21 unanswered points and broke open a game that was close for the better part of three quarters. “There were one or two drives in the first half where I just wasn’t sticking to the game plan,” Heinecke said, “in the second half I just did what coach told me to do and we made off pretty well.”
Old Dominion head coach Bobby Wilder had nothing but praise for his young quarterback. “As he always does, he just keeps plugging away, just kept playing.” Coastal Carolina head coach Joe Moglia also had good things to say about the quarterback’s performance. “I can very much appreciate why he’s a finalist for the Payton award,” he said. “He is a good quarterback and he does a great job of making decisions after the ball is snapped.”
The Chanticleers from Coastal Carolina did not go quietly however, and only trailed by seven at the half. “I was proud of our offense,” Moglia said, “I thought we had a spectacular effort across the board. The bottom line, I’m proud of the effort from my team.” They certainly have much to be proud of after rebounding from a 2-4 start to their season and finishing 8-4 with a playoff appearance.
Coastal Carolina wide receiver Matt Hazel had a career day with nine catches for 155 yards and two touchdowns while playing with flu-like symptoms. Quarterback Aramis Hillary also had a strong game, throwing for 352 yards and three touchdowns. It wasn’t enough though and the much maligned Monarch defense stiffened in the second half, allowing only 14 points after struggling to make solid tackles in the first half. “Incredibly excited with the win, it’s playoff football, it’s different, everything’s different about it,” coach Wilder said, “to get this win and know that we are in the elite eight, if you will, and three wins away from a national championship, it’s exciting.”
ODU wide receivers Larry Pinkard and Nick Mayers were Heinecke’s favorite targets in this game, each accounting for over 100 yards receiving and each reaching the end zone. With this win, Old Dominion has set another date to play against Georgia Southern University in the second round of the playoffs. These same two teams met last year in Atlanta, with Georgia Southern winning a close contest.
By: Jordan Jones
Assistant Sports Editor