RAIDERS FOIL FOUNDERING MON­ARCHS

Daily Press (Sunday) - - Sports - By Ed Miller Staff writer

NOR­FOLK — We’ve reached the point in the col­lege foot­ball sea­son when iden­ti­ties are mostly so­lid­i­fied but re-in­ven­tion is still faintly pos­si­ble.

For the pro­cras­ti­na­tors or late bloomers across the land­scape, the fi­nal month of­fers a chance, how­ever slim, to flip the nar­ra­tive.

Old Do­min­ion was cling­ing to that hope head­ing into Satur­day’s game vs. Mid­dle Ten­nessee State, with a wild, never-say-die win last week pro­vid­ing a tail­wind and bowl el­i­gi­bil­ity still a re­mote math­e­mat­i­cal pos­si­bil­ity. With no mar­gin for er­ror, how­ever, the Mon­archs com­mit­ted an avalanche of mis­takes, and a frus­trat­ing sea­son crys­tal­lized on one long, lost, af­ter­noon, in a 51-17 beat­ing by the Blue Raiders. ODU fell to 2-7, guar­an­tee­ing a sec­ond-straight los­ing sea­son. The Mon­archs tum­bled to 1-5 in Con­fer­ence USA. The Mon­archs piled up 523 yards, and had some huge in­di­vid­ual ef­forts, but had three turnovers in­side the Blue Raider 20 and five over­all, and gave up three touch­downs of 70 yards or more. On a day of missed tack­les and missed chances, the big­gest swing came on the fi­nal play of the first half. With ODU on the doorstep of the end zone, at the Blue Raider 2, Reed Blanken­ship tipped a LaRussa pass to him­self and re­turned it 100-plus yards for a touch­down. In­stead of pulling within seven, ODU trailed 31-10. MTSU put the game out of reach in third quar­ter, with a pair of quick strike scores: TD passes of 70 and 39 yards, re­spec­tively, to re­ceivers Gatlin Casey and Ty Lee. From the out­set, the Blue Raiders took ad­van­tage of ev­ery ODU mis­cue.

A se­ries of de­fen­sive penal­ties, a break­down in run de­fense and a punt­ing mis­ad­ven­ture re­sulted in the Mon­archs be­ing in a 17-0 hole be­fore the first quar­ter ended.

The Blue Raiders ran 16 plays on their open­ing drive, 12 through the air, and were helped along by a face­mask call and an un­sports­man­like con­duct penalty on ODU.

Still, the Mon­archs made a late stand and held MTSU to a 32-yard field goal.

The Blue Raiders needed just one touch to pad their lead on

MTSU put the game out of reach in third quar­ter, with a pair of quick strike scores: TD passes of 70 and 39 yards, re­spec­tively, to re­ceivers Gatlin Casey and Ty Lee.

The Blue Raiders took ad­van­tage of ev­ery ODU mis­cue.

their next pos­ses­sion. Terelle West bounced a run play out­side and steamed 71 yards into the end zone.

MTSU struck again when ODU punter Bai­ley Cate, fac­ing heavy pres­sure, aborted his kick at­tempt and tried to run. He was brought down at the ODU 23. The Blue Raiders scored three plays later.

ODU an­swered with a 62-yard TD pass from LaRussa to Travis Ful­gham, one of five catches he made in the half, for 143 yards. He fin­ished with 10, for 215 yards.

A Nick Rice field goal pulled ODU with a TD, at 17-10. The Blue Raiders re­sponded with a 75-yard drive. More big catches from Ful­gham got the Mon­archs deep in MTSU turf twice more in the half. ODU’s first bid ended when LaRussa fum­bled at the 17.

The sec­ond ended with Blanken­ship’s in­ter­cep­tion.

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