Old Dominion TD passes in final period deck Charlotte for first C-USA win , 37-34
Norfolk, Virginia –Old Dominion quarterback David Washington to threw 16-yard and 11-yard touchdown passes to WR Zach Pascal in the final 9:46 to overcome a nine- point Charlotte 49er lead to win their first Conference USA game of the season, 37-34. It was an exciting game played between two of the newest FBS teams in the NCAA. A year ago Collegefootballfan.com vowed to come back to Foreman Field after watching ODU (3-3, 1-2) in its inaugural season get smacked down by a dominant Marshall team, 56-14, and figured welcoming this year’s FBS newcomer Charlotte into the FBS would make for a much more competitive game for the two newcomers. It definitely turned out that way, and Charlotte was added to our history as our 129th, and for now, final FBS team. We can precisely say once again, we’ve “seen ‘em all.”
Charlotte took a 24-22 lead into the last period as ODU scored the only ten points in the third quarter. Washington (25 for 43, 365 yards, 4 TDS, 1 INT) threw a TD pass that was tipped to Marquis Little who scored for a 33-yard TD pass. Following a field goal attempt by Charlotte’s Blake Brewer blocked by Rashaad Coward and returned to the Charlotte 37 by Marvin Branch, Chris Kirtley converted on a 45-yard FG attempt to close the 12-point gap at halftime. Charlotte ran a no huddle offense successfully in the first half, but slowed down the tempo in the second half to come up empty on the scoreboard in the third period.
To start the last stanza, the 49ers got back on a scoring track finishing a 79-yard drive with QB Matt Johnson faking the hand off to RB Kalif Phillips ( 35 carries for 204 yards and 2 TDS) and going over from the one to widen the visitors’ lead, 31-22, looking for its first conference win in its sixth game of FBS play. Old Dominion’s comeback seemed to be sputtering as its next possession ended with a missed FG from 35 yards. Luck turned their way quickly though as Andrew Buie fumbled the ball on the Niners first play from the 20 where the Monarch’s Shadow Williams recovered at the Charlotte 17. Washington’s 15-yard pass into the end zone was caught by WR Zach Pascal ( 11 catches for 231 yards, 3 TDS) to get within two trailing, 31-29. Charlotte punted after its next possession after a three and out. With the clock running down, ODU faked a punt on its next possession, but Pascal’s rushing attempt came up short. Charlotte had the ball at ODU’s 33, but with 5:11 remaining, they settled for Brewer’s 20-yard FG to lead by five to force the Monarchs to come up with a TD to get the win. Starting from the 25, Washington connected with Pascal for a 33-yard pass to the Charlotte 42. On third and seven, Washington ran to the 29 for the first. On two consecutive runs, Jeremy Cox stepping in for Ray Lawry brought the ball to the eleven. From there, Washington hooked up with Pascal in the end zone again to get the TD for the one-point lead. A two point conversion pass to Jonathan Duhart gave the Monarchs a 37-34 lead with 2:18 left. Guest Game Analyst Bernie Olszyk (King’s College, Pennsylvania) and I wondered if the home team had left too much time on the clock. Charlotte moved the ball to the Monarch 44, but on a fourth and 13, Lee McNeil’s pass attempt to TJ Ford fell incomplete. The Monarchs ran out the clock with :44 and took the first Conference USA win this year for either team. It was an exciting game with an exciting finish. Charlotte definitely gave us the best performance among all the teams we’ve seen in recent years who have just joined the FBS.
Next week, ODU goes on the road to face Eastern Division foe Florida International (3-4,1-2). Charlotte returns home to host Southern Miss of the Western Division (4-3, 2-1) looking to pull an upset for their first CUSA win. Collegefooballfan.com travels to Atlanta to attend a disappointing game we chose before the season that’s lost a lot of luster. We head to Bobby Dodd Stadium for the first time to attend a Georgia Tech (2-5 , 0-4) home game. There they will meet No. 9 Florida State (6-0, 4-0). To make the game not only memorable but significant, we’re looking for the Ramblin’ Wreck to pull off the upset. We’ll be there to let you know.
Extra points: David Washington caught a pass early from his wide receiver position. He replaced original starting QB Shuler Bentley after the first series of the game and came up big with 365 passing yards and four TDs. Bernie reports that last year’s ODU QB Taylor Heinecke, who we were not impressed by in his game against Marshall, made the Minnesota Vikings roster.
Before the game, Bernie, a Jersey boy who now lives in Williamsburg, Virginia, met me at the Red Dog Saloon as outdoor tailgating at ODU is relatively limited to season ticket holders due to parking limitations. We had a great time and enjoyed the beers and appetizers at the Red Dog sports bar owned by a former Navy SEAL . It’s at 1421 Colley Avenue in Norfolk. Parking is tough, but it’s worth the short walk if you can’t park too close. Our tickets were compliments of Gary Gray who is not only an ODU grad, but sells scoreboards to various sports venues. I have to find out where I may have seen some of his other products. He gave Bernie and I front row seats, but we moved up higher in the second half as it was hard to see the action so low. We came away having enjoyed a great game. It doesn’t get any better than seeing two evenly matched teams play down to the wire no matter what their records or their ranking (or even lack thereof).
Stayed in Virginia Beach on Friday night. The sand on the beach was cold during the morning walk. The game started comfortably at 3:30 pm, but put the hoodies went on when the sun was down in the second half. Drove through some flurry action in Central Jersey Sunday on the way home. Still too early for that! And we plan to be at Colorado, West Point , and Ann Arbor in November?
Charlotte was keeping ODU off balance in the first half with their no huddle offense. McNeil moved the team through the air (23 of 33 for 219 yards) while Johnson picked up 42 yards on the ground running read options. Seemed to work well with two QBs, but not sure why they got away from the no-huddle in the second half.
Bush League band: When the home team band starts chanting “F___ __ , Charlotte”, no less the student body, there’s evidently something wrong with the leadership at the school. They did it several times in the first half before something must have definitely been said, but that was two too many. It shows no class and poor sportsmanship. I don’t think I’ve ever heard it before from an organized perspective. I hope the admin will take some further action. It has no place in sports and reflects very poorly on the school.
The game was a sell-out with a total of 20,118 in attendance.
RB Raw Lawry of ODU attended his grandfather’s funeral on Thursday. He carried seven times for only 34 yards and fumbled twice before HC Bobby Wilder inserted Jeremey Cox to do some of the heavy lifting in the offensive backfield. Condolences to Ray. We looked forward to seeing him play again after being the one bright spot for ODU when we saw them get creamed by Marshall a year ago. He had 131 yards rushing in the 56-14 loss. I think he’s a soph, but my knowledge about the teams did not expand as we found no game programs available for today’s game. We hate when that happens
Bernie and I were impressed by the speed of skill position players for both teams. An avid Syracuse fan where his daughter went to school, and where he and I traveled together for several memorable trips, he’s been keeping track of ODU in particular seeing that the Monarchs are recruiting and getting players also being sought by the likes of Syracuse, Rutgers, and Temple among others. HC Bobby Wilder who came from the University of Maine still has ties to the northeast. By the way, last time Bernie and I attended a game together was in 2008 in Williamsburg where we saw William & Mary defeat VMI, 52-17.
Whoever does the scoreboard at Ballard Stadium for ODU is the quickest and most accurate keeper of a scoreboard I have ever seen. The downs and the yard marked were always updated as soon as any play was over. I was pretty amazed.
Senior ODU Guard Tyler Burns stood out on the field for his size. The California native stand 6′-6″ and weighs 370 lbs.