Monarchs can’t stay with Tar Heels early
Williams finishes at quarterback for Old Dominion
NORFOLK — After losing to North Carolina by 60 points in 2013, Old Dominion appeared poised to provide its home fans a more competitive contest against just the second ACC foe to ever visit the Monarchs.
Then the Monarchs began their first drive with a reverse, which gave the impression they knew all along they would need some magic to keep up with North Carolina. After all, they were without four offensive starters, including running back Ray Lawry, and one defensive starter, all because of injuries.
Old Dominion got one flash of that magic in the first half when Isaiah Harper caught a kickoff, considered kneeling, and instead exploded for a 100-yard kickoff return touchdown.
But it barely made a dent, and the Monarchs fell 53-23.
The result showed Old Dominion is still a long way from competing with ACC teams. With a trip to Virginia Tech looming next week, the Monarchs may be in for another rough day.
Neither team had many long drives in the first half — of the 15 combined offensive possessions, just three lasted longer than two minutes.
But the results of those drives were drastically different for each team. Old Dominion was lucky when it got a first down, with just four in the first half. North Carolina had no such misfortune, using a hurry-up offense to score on six of its eight first-half possessions.
“The first half was an embarrassment all the way around,” said Old Dominion coach Bobby Wilder. “The crowd shows up, they’re into it, they’re all behind you, and we embarrassed ourselves.”
Wilder tried to find a solution on offense, using three quarterbacks through two quarters. Jordan Hoy started before being replaced by Blake LaRussa, but Hoy would come back in after LaRussa failed to make progress. Then Wilder opted to play 17-yearold freshman Steven Williams Jr., who led a promising drive late in the second quarter before fumbling at North Carolina’s 1-yard line.
“Before the game, I had a dream. I was like, ‘They might pull me and put me in the game,’ ” said Williams. “(Wilder) looked at me and said, ‘Let’s go. Go get your helmet, you’re playing.’ ”
To his credit, Williams was poised as he led a more effective offense in the second half. He threw a nearly perfect pass downfield to Travis Fulgham, who outran North Carolina defenders for a 71-yard touchdown.
Williams’ performance prompted Wilder to name him the starting quarterback.
“We needed Stevie Williams to play like he did in the second half,” said Wilder. “That was a big moment for the 2017 team. …that was very important.”
Williams finished with 139 yards, completing 9 of 20 passes for two touchdowns and no interceptions. North Carolina’s Chazz Surratt went 16 of 24 for 257 yards and three total touchdowns, while Jordon Brown rushed 17 times for 125 yards and two touchdowns.
The Tar Heels outgained the Monarchs 511 to 316 in total offense.
With his redshirt removed, Wilder said Williams would start next Saturday against the Hokies at Lane Stadium — a daunting environment for any 17-year-old to start his first game. But neither Williams nor Wilder showed any trepidation.
“I fully expect he’ll go up there, and I expect he’ll play well,” Wilder said. “That’s a lot to ask for someone that’s 17 years old, but you’re the starting quarterback at Old Dominion now. Let’s go.”
“The first half was an embarrassment all the way around. The crowd shows
up, they’re into it, they’re
all behind you, and we embarrassed