21-point smack down gives Monarchs first FBS “W”
It was just another day at the office for Old Dominion (7-3) quarterback Taylor Heinicke, who carried the Monarchs to its first ever Football Bowl Championship Series victory on Saturday with a final 59-38 over Idaho (1-9) at ASUI-Kibbie Dome in Moscow, ID.
The Monarchs defense, which had played particularly well in the weeks following its 58-point debacle to The Citadel, was tested early.
Only 19 seconds into the game, Idaho quarterback Taylor Davis threw to James Baker who caught it and ran 73 yards into the end zone. Once again, the Monarchs looked overmatched against an FBS opponent.
ODU found itself in an early 14-point hole in the first quarter when quarterback Taylor Heinicke and the offense took over.
Five minutes later, ODU scored 17 unanswered points to go up by three, 17-14. Heinicke put the Monarchs on the board for the first time with a 23-yard pass to Marquel Thomas with 9:39 remaining in first quarter. After a Jarod Brown field goal cut the lead to 14-10, Heinicke capped off the run with a 56-yard strike to Antonio Vaughn to set up the kick.
ODU’s run sparked a first half shootout.
Each team scored two more first half touchdowns and the Vandals added a field goal.
The Monarchs showed great resolve and went into the half tied at 31 despite the defense looking overmatched.
The second half was dominated by the Monarch defense, which gave up just seven points in the latter 30 minutes of the ball game
Taylor Heinicke achieved more milestones this week and affirmed his place as the program’s all-time pass leader.
With the aforementioned drive that resulted in ODU’s first lead 17-14 Heinicke executed the longest drive in Monarchs history with a 98-yard possession.
Heinicke also snagged some statistical achievements that were each the second most in the school’s history.
His 533 yards through the air were his second to his Division 1 record breaking 733-yard performance against New Hampshire last season.
As a team, the Monarchs rolled up 621 yards of total offense.
Antonio Vaughn and Marquel Thomas each caught their sixth touchdown of the season Saturday night. The receiving duo tied Blair Roberts for second most on the team behind Larry Pinkard, who leads all wideouts with eight.
After Saturday’s win, the Monarchs hold serve on its preseason plan. Wilder wanted his team steal one of its “Five bowl games,” and beat up on Football Championship Series opponents.
In the process of securing its first ever FBS win, it is not apparent that they are ready to compete full-time at the next level of competition, but stellar quarterback play has the Monarch faithful believing they can compete with the very best.
In four games against FBS competition, Heinicke has completed 127 of his 193 passes for 1349 yards, nine touchdowns and five interceptions.
“This might be a more impressive performance than New Hampshire,” ODU head coach Bobby Wilder said. “We needed every throw from him today, and he just kept making them.”
“He continues to take his game to a higher level,” he continued.
The Monarchs cannot play in any postseason games this year but there are plan in place for building towards the future of the program. Next season, ODU will be a full Conference-USA participant and assurance that they can compete with anyone is what this season is about.
“I’m proud of them because they’ve seen the bigger picture – they’ve seen what this means for the university, that every time they do something, like today, they put their mark on this program,” Wilder said.
“To have our first FBS win in just our fifth year of playing football, while we’re transitioning, is remarkable,” he said. “We made history tonight. It’s another giant, giant step for our program.”
By Brian Saunders