“We wanted to win,” Heinicke said when asked if settling for a field goal was an option when the Monarchs trailed by three with 4:22 remaining in the game.
There were only 28 seconds left in the fourth quarter when Taylor Heinicke managed to find Blair Roberts open for a 27-yard game winning touchdown pass to bring the score to 21-17 for the Monarchs homecoming game victory.
Energy was extremely high in Foreman Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium on Oct. 5 as Old Dominion (3-2) took on Liberty University (3-2) for the homecoming game. Fans striped out the stadium as they filled the stands wearing blue and white. The Monarchs wore pink socks in support of breast cancer awareness month.
This was not a usual game for the Monarchs as they went two quarters without producing on offense. The Monarchs trailed 17-7 in the fourth quarter and had not shown their ability to score since early in the game. It was not until Aaron Evans returned a punt 64-yards for a touchdown with a little over four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter that the momentum began to change.
“I made one guy miss and the rest of the guys did the rest of the work. They did good blocking. I felt like a play needed to be made,” said Evans when speaking about this monumental punt return.
According to statistics Liberty is arguably the best team that the Monarchs have played since Maryland and East Carolina.
“They are my pick to win the Big South,” head coach Bobby Wilder said.
The Old Dominion defense kept the Monarchs in the game when the offense was failing to produce. The defense did a great job of holding Liberty to 17 points, which is the second lowest that they have held a team to this season.
Misher led Old Dominion in tackles with 11 and also knocked down the Hail Mary attempt on the last play of the game. Misher also added a recovered fumble, which is his second of the year. Richie Staton was not far behind with eight tackles and a tackle for loss. John Darr added six tackles, two tackles for loss and also a forced fumble.
Liberty’s defense also proved to be a force in this game. The Monarchs were one for six in the red zone due to the pressure that Liberty’s defense put on Old Dominion.
“They are very well disciplined and they were fighting out there the whole game,” said Heinicke when speaking about Liberty’s defense. The Flames forced Heinicke to throw two interceptions in the in-zone, which is very unusual for last year’s Walter Payton Award winner.
Early in the game it seemed as though everything had been going the Flames’ way, but none of this mattered because in the end because the Monarchs came out victorious.
“It’s about making sure you finish,” Liberty head coach Turner Gill said when speaking about Old Dominion’s fourth quarter comeback.
The Monarchs may have struggled early in the game, but definitely showed how resilient they truly are as they came back from a 10 point deficit late in the fourth.
“This win is more important to our program than last week’s 66-10 win because this is a close football game and when you develop character within your football team and everyone within your organization, it’s how you respond to adversity, it’s how you play in game situations like this,” Wilder said.
Next up for the Monarchs is a bye week, followed by a road trip up north in Pittsburgh next Saturday to take on the Panthers.
By Jasmine Blackwell