RAIDERS FOIL FOUNDERING MONARCHS
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.