Monarchs Take Homecoming Win over UNC Charlotte
At Old Dominion’s campus the buzz of homecoming was in the air. The Monarchs had won their first two games before falling short on the next three. They were looking to stop the losing streak, while Charlotte was trying to do the same.
ODU got the ball first and got off to a poor start with Bentley at the helm as he threw two of his three passes well short to force a three-and-out. Since Charlotte scored with ease, Coach Wilder made a bold decision that changed the landscape of the game.
He brought in former backup quarterback David Washington, who had switched to receiver last season. His first drive he came out and hit a beautiful deep pass to Pascal, something that the ODU offense had been missing this season. ODU finally hit that homerun ball they were so famous for with Heinicke at the helm. That play to Pascal not only changed Wilder’s plan for the game, but also put the freshman Bentley’s future in a realm of uncertainty. Coach Wilder’s plan was to alternate both Bentley and Washington to bring different looks each drive. Washington was even surprised.
“They told me I’d get a series or two…But this? I didn’t expect this, I didn’t expect I’d play at all during the season,” Washington said.
The coaching spark helped boost the team as a whole, but another interesting stat that came was from the star running back Ray Lawry. Lawry looked a tad shaky on his measly seven carries as he split them with freshman Jeremy Cox who got nine. Lawry did fumble on two of his carries while losing one of them in the redzone.
But the story of the night was the connection between new QB Washington and WR Zach Pascal.
Washington threw for 365 yards, four touchdowns and one interception, which is to be expected as he had not played QB in over a year. But Pascal has 231 of those 365 yards and three touchdowns on a remarkable receiving day.
Washington’s first drive looked good as he lead his team to a touchdown but failed to convert the extra point as it was blocked by Charlotte.
It took them awhile to get back on the board as they didn’t score again until the start of the second quarter with a field goal, putting ODU only eight points behind Charlotte 17-9.
A forced fumble inside the 20 gave the Monarchs great field position that they failed to capitalize on. This forced them to kick a field goal, bringing the score to 17-12. Charlotte scored before the half to push the lead to what looked insurmountable 24-12. The way ODU had been playing on both sides of the ball did not bode well for them.
The Monarchs struck first in the second half with a beautiful strike to Marques Little for a 33 yard score, bringing the Monarchs within five.
The turning point for the Monarchs came the next defensive possession as the Charlotte 49ers lined up for a chip shot field goal. The fans screamed “Block that kick” as the ball was snapped, and the mojo from the fans seemed to work as the Monarch’s special teams managed to block the field goal and bring life back into their football team.
But the energy was short lived as ODU could only get a field goal before letting up yet another touchdown to the 49ers, pushing the lead to nine with 13:36 left in the game.
Yet again the defense came up big as they forced a fumble on the 17 yard line giving Washington and the Monarch’s offense great starting field position, which they capitalized on, bringing it within two points. It looked as though the Monarchs would do it. They could actually mount their famous homecoming comeback.
Coach Wilder then made a bold move in fake punting it on their 33 putting the 49ers in great field position with 8:21 left and a slight lead. ODU’s defense held up in crunch time as they held Charlotte to only a field goal giving the Monarchs a chance to win this thing.
They had to travel 75 yards to complete the improbable comeback. Washington orchestrated a remarkable drive, passing and running the ball with ease down to the redzone with just over two minutes left as he hooked up with none other than Pascal for the game winning touchdown.
That touchdown all but sealed it as the 49ers offense tried to mount something late but came up short 37-34. This was yet another remarkable win for ODU on their homecoming weekend.
“I’m really happy to get a win after the way App State just booked us. We feel like a monkey is off our back,” Washington said after the game.
Next week ODU faces FIU on the road while Charlotte goes back home to face USM.