SEASON FINALE: Football Travels To VMI

November 17, 2009
By ODU Athletics
ODU Sports

Nov. 17, 2009

Complete Game Notes in PDF Format Get Acrobat Reader

Game Eleven
Saturday, November 21st - 1:30 p.m. (EST)
Alumni Memorial Field at Foster Stadium - Lexington, Va.
Old Dominion Monarchs (8-2) vs.
VMI Keydets (2-8)

Game Day Central

TV: None
Radio: ESPN RADIO - 94.1 FM, WGAI-560 AM
(Ted Alexander - Play-by-Play; Andy Mashaw - Color Analyst)
Audio: Monarch All-Access
Livestats: Courtsey of VMI

Weekly Press Conference Video: Monarch All-Access (Subscription Required)

Breakfast With Bobby: Episode Eleven

Note: Make sure to install the newest version of Microsoft Silverlight for All-Access content.

• Follow ODU Football on TWITTER.
• Become a FAN of ODU Athletics on FACEBOOK.

Even though it was a bye-week, the Monarchs moved up one slot to No. 4 in the nation in FCS attendance. Old Dominion SOLD OUT all seven games of the 2009 with 19.792 12th Monarchs being "loud and proud" at Foreman Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium. Thanks to all the 12th Monarchs!!!
FCS Attendance:
1. Montana - 25,652
2. Appalachian St. - 25,143
3. Delaware - 20,750
4. Old Dominion - 19,782
5. South Carolina St. - 18,050
6. Ga. Southern - 17,758
7. NC A&T - 17,219
8. North Dakota St. - 17,069
9. James Madison - 16,315
10. Jackson St. - 15,847

The Monarchs enter their final game of the 2009 season riding a five-game winning streak.

Last week certainly wasn't the bye-week the Monarchs were expecting to have. ODU was supposed to practice Thursday and Friday of last week, but was forced indoors due to the driving wind and rain of the Nor'eastern hitting the Hampton Roads area. The Monarchs, however, were able to get plenty of rest and relaxation, as well as work on academics, entering their final week of competition.

The Gridiron Power Index (GPI), the index ranking for the NCAA Division I FCS and a top indicator of at-large playoff selection. VMI, who the Monarchs take on Saturday, has the highest GPI of any of the schools Old Dominion has faced this season. The schedule only gets tougher from here out as ODU gets ready to enter the CAA in 2011. The CAA is the top-rated conference in the index. Out of the 125 teams rated in the GPI, four are in the top 10 (Villanova, Richmond, William & Mary) and New Hampshire) and seven are in the top 25.

VMI will be celebrating its Senior Day when the Monarchs come to town. ODU's start-up program has just one senior on the roster. Jason Fuller (Va. Beach, Va.) made his first start against N.C. Central, in ODU's last home contest, and tied for the team leader in tackles with seven stops. On the season, the Monarchs' first FBS transfer has made 27 tackles.

200 CLUB:
Thomas DeMarco (Palm Desert, Calif.) became the first Monarch to rush for over 200 yards in a game in the 48-28 victory over N.C. Central two weeks ago.. He surpassed the previous season-high of 145 yards by Desmond Williams (Windsor, N.C.).

The four rushing touchdowns captured two Saturdays ago by Thomas DeMarco (Palm Desert, Calif.) are the most by the Monarchs this season. DeMarco reset his own record, which was three TDs in games against Jacksonville and Georgetown.

When not moving the chains, the Monarchs are looking to Jonathan Plisco for the punt. Plisco enters Saturday afternoon's contest ranked No. 1 in the nation in punting. The redshirt freshman is averaging 45.4 yards per punt, including a long of 76. Of his 57 punts on the year, 26 have been inside the opponent 20, 17 have been 50 yards or more, and seven have been touchbacks.

Head coach Bobby Wilder said it best when he called the North Carolina Central game a boxing match. After going up 28-0 early in the third quarter against the Eagles, N.C. Central mounted a comeback scoring four unanswered touchdowns to tie the game at 28-28 with 10:41 remaining in the game. The Monarchs, however, punched back, so to say, scoring two more touchdowns to take back the lead and holding the Eagles to just two yards on seven plays the rest of the way.

Thanks to all the noise of being "Loud and Proud" at Foreman Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium, the opposition has been charged with 41 penalties this season.
12th Monarch Stats:
Chowan: Seven Penalties
Virginia Union: Eight Penalties
Monmouth: Three Penalties
Presbyterian: Four Penalties
Campbell: Eight Penalties
Georgetown: Five Penalties
N.C. Central: Six Penalties

Old Dominion's 17 points in the opening quarter against Georgetown on October 31st were the most scored by the team in a first quarter. The previous high was 16 in the season opener against Chowan back on September 5th. Old Dominion raced out to a 31-3 halftime advantage.

Further proving the depth on the roster, a defensive starter went down prior to the October 31st Georgetown game, but another one was right there to step right in. Starting in place of the injured A.T. Aoelua (Pago, Pago, American Samoa), who missed the Oct. 31st game with Georgetown nursing a sprained ankle, Jake Sweedyk (Walker, Mich.) made the start and ended with night with a team-leading nine tackles.

The Monarchs are ranked in the top ten in four team categories, while one individual is among the nation's best. As a team, ODU is #10 in rushing offense, #2 in sacks allowed, #3 net punting, and #3 turnover margin. Meanwhile, punter Jonathan Plisco (Newport News, Va.) is first in the country in punting.

Old Dominion's victory over Savannah State on October 24th ensured the Monarchs a winning season and then last Saturday's win over Georgetown gave Old Dominion football one of the best FCS start-up records. The streak continued in their last contest, a 42-28 victory over N.C. Central to give the Monarchs win number eight in their first season of football. Of the schools that have started up football the last few years, only Coastal Carolina and Robert Morris have a winning record at the end of their inaugural seasons. Coastal Carolina earned a 6-5 record in its first season in 2003, while Robert Morris ended its first year in 1994 with a 7-1-1 mark.

And no, we're not talking about the howitzer you hear being shot off before the Monarchs run onto Foreman Field. Old Dominion has scored on the first drive in seven of its games thus far - and almost added another in the October 10th contest with Presbyterian. After receiving the opening kickoff, the Monarchs took the ball down to the Presbyterian four-yard line and nearly punched through for the touchdown. Unfortunately, the Monarchs fumbled the ball and the Blue Hose recovered making. Only twice in their seven home games did ODU not score on its opening drive.

It wasn't the usual suspects for the ODU Monarchs in its 38-17 victory over Savannah State on the night of October 24th. Receivers Chris Lovitt (Stafford, Va.) and Michael E. Williams (Manassas, Va.) each had their first career touchdowns, while linebacker A.T. Aoelua (Pago, Pago, American Samoa) picked off a fake field goal attempt for a 77-yard interception return for a touchdown. Additionally, Mario Crawford (Detroit, Mich.), who returned to the field following a shoulder injury, made his return to the field to post 102 rushing yards, it first 100+ yard game of the season.

Against Savannah State two weeks ago, linebacker Mateus Porter captured the 12th Monarch interception of the season, setting up Chris Lovitt for his 25-yard touchdown reception to close out the second quarter. Porter's interception was his second of the year. Fellow linebacker A.T. Aoelua's first interception, and the Monarchs' 13th of the year, made him the first defender to reach the end zone this season with his 77-yard interception return.

Old Dominion scored in each quarter against the Savannah State Tigers, the second time in 2009 and the first against an FCS squad. The last time the Monarchs registered a score in each of the four quarters was against Virginia Union back on September 12th.

Six different Monarchs scored in the victory over Savannah State, the most the season. To date, 16 different Monarchs who have put points onto the scoreboard. "It's not necessarily one or two guys who are forcing the defense to defend multiple personnel and different personnel groupings," said head coach Bobby Wilder. "It's making us a team that's able to do different things. We're not an easy team to defend on offense right now."

Kicker Drew Hareza (McDonald, Pa.) gave ODU at 10-0 lead at Savannah State with 5:28 remaining in the opening half as his 29-yard field goal broke his drought. After making five against Chowan in the season opener, Hareza missed his next six attempts before sailing the ball through the uprights against the Tigers. Hareza is currently 7-13 on field goals.

The Old Dominion football team has completed its 2010 schedule with the addition of Cal-Poly to its 11-game slate for next season. The Mustangs are one of seven teams to enter Foreman Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium next season. The Mustangs are ranked 19th in this week's FCS Coaches' Poll and have ranked as high as 13th in the national polls. Cal Poly is currently 3-3 overall and is coming off a 24-23 victory over Southern Utah last Saturday. In 2008, Cal Poly finished at 8-3 and 3-0 in the Great West to earn a berth to the FCS playoffs. In 2005, the Mustangs reached the FCS playoff quarterfinals. In addition to Cal Poly on Oct. 9, home games for the Monarchs will include a return with Jacksonville (Sept. 4) for their 2010 opener, future Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) rival William & Mary (Sept. 18), Gardner-Webb (Oct. 2) on Parent's Weekend, start-up and future conference rival Georgia State (Oct. 23) on Homecoming, as well as return dates with Savannah State (Nov. 6) and VMI (Nov. 13) in the regular season home finale. The Monarchs will have four road games next season traveling to Campbell (Sept. 11), Monmouth (Sept. 25), Georgetown (Oct. 25), and Presbyterian (Nov. 20). Old Dominion will have a bye-week in mid-season in 2010 with that date falling on Oct. 16.

One area of note that the coaching staff is very pleased with is special teams. "We have some players that emerging on special teams, including a lot of guys that don't start on offense or defense or that aren't playing 60 or 70 snaps a game," noted head coach Bobby Wilder. "They are taking pride on what they are doing on special teams . We recognize them each week for what we call `Dirty Jobs'." Dirty Jobs are defined as the jobs that the fans might not see during the game or the media might recognize. Examples include blocking for the punt and kick returners and guys that have to run down field on the kick and sacrifice themselves to bust up the wedge. "Its making a big difference for this football team," said Wilder.

Punter Jonathan Plisco (Newport News, Va.) had a 76-yard punt midway through the third quarter for his longest punt of the year against Campbell back on October 17th. That punt caused the Camels to start their drive all the way from their own one-yard line. Having helped the Camels stay downfield, it helped swing momentum ODU's way and set up the Monarchs' first touchdown drive of the second half. Plisco's previous long was 61.

After the Camels gained 137 yards on the ground in the first half, the ODU defense only allowed Campbell to gain 59 rushing yards in second half action. Conversley, the following weekend, the Monarch defense only allowed Savannah State 66 yards on 22 plays in that first half of action. In other first half stoppage, the Monarchs held Georgetown to just 39 yards on 31 plays, while the offense scored 31 points gaining 350 yards on 44 plays.

Chris Burnette (Randallstown, Md.) suffered a broken hand in the second play of the game in the October 10th game against Presbyterian, but that certainly didn't stop him. Burnette reached up with his broken hand that had been casted and blocked a Blue Hose extra point - the Monarch's seventh blocked kick of the year and Burrnette's second of the season.

The Monarchs had four interceptions against Presbyterian back on October 10th - Devon Simmons (Va. Beach, Va.), Mychael McJunkins (Kansas City, Kan.), Markell Wilkins (Hampton, Va.), and Craig Wilkins (Va. Beach, Va.) - the most interceptions ODU has recorded to date. On the year, Simmons lead the Monarchs with four interceptions.

Junior linebacker Mychael McJunkins (Kansas City, Kan.) has led the Monarchs in tackles in five of ODU's nine game so far. Against Presbyterian, all nine of his stops were solo tackles, the most solo tackles by a Monarch to date.

Kicker Drew Hareza's (McDonald, Pa.) PAT streak stopped on October 10th versus Presbyterian. After making his first 24 extra points, the Blue Hose blocked Hareza's PAT attempt following Desmond Williams' nine yard TD run. Hareza has converted 44 of his 45 attempts on the year.

Edmon McClam (Cowart, S.C.) blocked his fifth PAT of the season in the October 3rd contest at Fordham. The block became a new FCS record for blocked PATs in a season replacing the previous mark of four set by both Tim Hauck of Montana in 1988 and Ed Groszewski of Cornell in 1991. The record for blocked PATs in a career is seven held by the Grizzlies' Hauck. McClam also holds the FCS record for blocked PATs in a game having thwarted three Chowan extra point attempts in the season opener back on September 5th.

The Monarchs made the most of Ram fumbles back on October 3rd. Mychael McJunkins (Kansas City, Kan.) recovered a fumble that led to a Monarch touchdown by Nick Mayers (Va. Beach, Va.) in the third quarter. A.T. Aoeula (Pago, Pago, American Samoa) forced a fumble that was recovered by T.J. Cowart (Va. Beach, Va.) later in the quarter that almost lead to another score when the Monarchs returned to the field on offense. Unfortunately, the ball slipped out of the hands of intended receiver Reid Evans, who looked like he was off and running to cross the endline. Marquis Johnson (San Diego, Calif.) posted the third fumble recovery of the day and the second leading to a touchdown as he recovered in the endzone for the score. Eleven different members of the ODU defense have posted fumble recoveries this season.

Nick Mayers (Va. Beach, Va.) became the first Monarch to have more than one touchdown reception in a game this season in ODU's game at Fordham on October 3rd. The redshirt freshman made a 25-yard catch in the first minute and a half against the Rams, the second straight game he made a touchdown catch in the opening minutes of a contest. Mayers also recorded a 29-yard reception midway through the third quarter helping ODU spark its third straight come-from-behind contest. The wide receiver then caught the two-point conversion from quarterback Thomas DeMarco to kick-off the fourth quarter scoring for the Monarchs. Three weeks ago, Mayers earned a spot in the starting line-up against Monmouth, starting in place of the injured Marquell Thomas (Va. Beach, Va.). Mayers had a 55-yard catch on ODU's first drive of the game against the Hawks to give Old Dominion a 7-0 lead in the first two minutes of the game.

The Monarchs are 1-2 in making the fourth quarter comeback this season.

Old Dominion trailed for a majority of Sept. 19th's contest at Jacksonville until its last drive. The Monarchs used a 91-yard, 10-play drive starting from its own nine-yard line with 2:08 remaining in the game. Freshman wide receiver Reid Evans (Hampton, Va.) accounted for four of ODU's first downs getting the Monarchs to the Jacksonville 32. Then quarterback Thomas DeMarco (Palm Desert, Calif.) threw a 32-yard touchdown to Dorian Jackson (Colonial Heights, Va.) to tie the game at 27 all. Drew Hareza (Davidsonville, Md.) connected on his 14th straight PAT to give Old Dominion the lead 28-27 with 45 seconds left. Jacksonville got the ball down to the ODU 35, but a 52-yard field goal attempt went wide to give the Monarchs their third straight win.

The Monarchs, who trailed at one point 31-21 on September 26th to Monmouth, almost made its second straight come-from-behind victory. ODU made it a three-point game with just under seven minutes left. Monmouth's Kenny Amsel fumbled a punt return as Marquis Johnson (San Diego, Calif.) recovered at the Hawk's 15. On the next play, Desmond Williams (Windsor, N.C.) took off for 15 yards and Hareza's PAT had the Monarchs trailing just 31-28. Monmouth controlled possession the rest of the way however not allowing the ODU offense to return to the field and garner another scoring opportunity.

The Monarchs for the third straight game made a fourth quarter comeback, but fell just short. Old Dominion trailed 25-7 at the tail end of the third quarter Nick Mayers (Va. Beach, Va.) caught a 29-yard pass with 5:47 left in the quarter, the Monarchs' first points since Mayers first touchdown catch in the early moments of the game, to head into the fourth quarter trailing 25-14. The Monarchs dodged a bullet a Fordham field goal attempt went right on the second drive of the final quarter, but the Monarchs were unable to move further than their own 40 when they returned to the field on offense. Punter Jonathan Plisco (Newport News, Va.) punted the ball to the Fordham backfield where the Rams' Asa Lucas fumbled the ball. As the ball skipped further and further back, ODU's Marquis Johnson (San Diego, Calif.) recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown. The Monarchs then completed the two-point conversion to cut the Monarch deficit to a field goal, 25-22, with 10:45 remaining in the game. Although Fordham was able to hit a field goal on the next drive, it was Old Dominion going the distance when they got the ball back to regain the lead. Carlos Davis (Ft. Washington, Md.) caught a 17-yard pass from DeMarco and Drew Hareza (McDonald, Md.) upped his mark to 21-of-21 on PATs to give Old Dominion the 29-28 lead with 3:06 remaining. The lead, unfortunately, only lasted for a minute. The Rams quickly went down field on the ensuing drive. Although Fordham, who went for the two-point conversion and failed, reclaimed the lead with 1:50 left at 34-29. Old Dominion got to the Fordham 45 on its final drive, but a fumble gave possession back to the Rams with 51 seconds remaining to hold for the win.

The Monarchs have blocked at least one kick in five of the seven games played so far this season - five blocked PAT attempts and a pair of blocked field goal attempt. Edmon McClam (Cowart, S.C.) set an NCAA record with three blocked PATs against Chowan and then had a block of the extra point on Jacksonville's first touchdown, which proved to be crucial as ODU left D.B. Milne field with a one-point victory, 28-27. McClam blocked his fifth PAT of the season at Fordham to set an FCS season record. (See OOPS...I DID IT AGAIN & RECORD SETTING DAY for more on McClam's blocked kicks). Chris Burnette (Randallstown, Md.) captured ODU's two other blocked kicks thwarting field goal attempt against Virginia Union and Presbyterian.

While September 5th saw a lot of firsts for the Old Dominion football Monarchs, there was another first on Sept. 19 against Jacksonville. The 28-27 thrilling come from behind victory was not only the Monarchs' first road win, but the victory over the Dolphins was also the first ever Division I (FCS) win.

Thomas DeMarco (Palm Desert, Calif.) solidified his position at starting quarterback in the second game of the season as the redshirt sophomore captured five touchdowns and completed 13 of his 18 attempts for 198 yards. DeMarco carried the ball into the endzone three times against Virginia Union, including the game's first two scores. He ran the ball in for a touchdown in the third quarter, this time crossing the line backwards pushing against a pile of Panther defenders. To date, DeMarco from the air has thrown for 14 and also has 14 running the ball himself into the end zone.

The defense put out a potentially momentum changing situation against Virginia Union. After a Monarch pass was intercepted, Virginia Union's return brought gave the Panthers first and goal at the ODU 5. The ODU defense held, however, forcing the Panthers to hit a field goal instead of a touchdown. Rookie defensive back T.J. Cowart (Va. Beach, Va.) broke up a pass in the endzone, classmate Craig Wilkins (Washington, D.C.) allowed Virginia Union to gain only a yard on the next play, and a miss fired pass kept the Panthers from the touchdown.

Captain Craig Wilkins (Washington, D.C.), who was a member of the "fire department" that put out the fire by preventing Virginia Union from penetrating the endzone, finished the game with 10 tackles, including a nine-yard sack, along with a pair of pass break-ups and a 32-yard interception. Wilkins and the defense held the Panthers, who averaged 156 yards on the ground, to just 66 yards in the game. Additionally, the Monarch defenders had six tackles for loss pushing back Virginia Union for a total of 33 yards.

Not only was September 5th a record setting day with the Monarchs playing its first Division I-FCS football game, but it was also a record setting day for sophomore defender Edmon McClam (Coward, S.C.). The 6-6, 260 lbs. defensive lineman set an NCAA Division I record for most blocked PAT's by a single player in a game (FCS or FBS) with three against the Chowan Hawks. The previous FCS record was held by Everette Pedescleaux of Northern Iowa with a pair of blocked extra point attempts against the Delaware Blue Hens on December 1, 2007. Four FBS athletes have blocked two PAT's in a single game (Corey Nelson, Air Force vs. Colorado St., Nov. 11, 2000; Josh Buhl, Kansas St. vs. Syracuse, Dec, 29, 2001; Kareem Bland, Middle Tenn. vs. North Texas, Nov. 23, 2002; Linval Joseph, East Carolina vs. Kentucky, Jan. 2, 2009) but never three. McClam's blocking prowess also ties the FCS record for combined block kicks in a game (includes blocked punts, PATs, FGs). The last time an FCS student-athlete blocked three kicks of any type in one game was Brandon Tinson of Colgate vs. Towson on Sept. 30, 2000 (all three were punts).

Kicker Drew Hareza (McDonald, Pa.) totaled 18 of the Monarchs' 36 points against Chowan with five field goals and three extra points. His five field goals that went through the uprights in the first two quarters against the Hawks ties the FCS record for field goals in a half (Dean Biasucci, Western Caro. vs. Mars Hill, Sept. 18,1982 (1st); Tony Zendejas, Nevada vs. Northern Ariz., Oct. 16, 1982 (2nd); Ryan Weeks, Tennessee Tech vs. Chattanooga, Sept. 9, 1989 (2nd).)

Here is a look at schools that have started football programs over the last few years:

School: - FCS/FBS: - Year Started: - Record First Season:
Bryant - FCS - 1998 - 2-5
Campbell - FCS - 2008 - 1-10
Coastal Carolina - FCS - 2003 - 6-5
Jacksonville - FCS - 1998 - 4-5
Robert Morris - FCS - 1994 - 7-1
FIU - FBS - 2002 - 5-6
Florida Atlantic - FBS - 2001 - 4-6
South Florida - FBS - 1997 - 5-6

The following schools are adding football in the next few years:
School: - FCS/FBS: - Conference: - Year Starting:
Georgia State - FCS - CAA - 2010
Lamar - FCS - Southland - 2010
UT-San Antonio - FCS - Southland - 2011
Charlotte - FCS - TBA - 2013
South Alabama - FCS - Independent - 2012
FBS - Sun Belt - 2013

The Monarchs made history on September 5th when a three-year dream became a reality. On May 31, 2006, the ODU board of visitors voted to add football and 1,293 days later, the Monarchs kicked off its first season of Division I FCS play. ODU has an 11-game schedule, including seven home dates at the $24.8 million renovated Foreman Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium. The schedule is a mix of both D-II and D-I FCS opponents to help the Monarchs transition into not only its first year of football, but also to get ready for entering the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) in 2011.

Old Dominion last fielded a football team in 1940, back when the school was known as the Norfolk Division of the College of William & Mary. Then known as the Braves, the Norfolk Division had its first football game on Sept. 26, 1930 and was then disbanded in 1940. On June 21, 2005 by a 14-0 vote, the ODU board of visitors approved a plan that would see NCAA Div. I-AA (now known as FCS) football played at a remodeled Foreman Field provided that:
• A consultant's report indicating community support for a program.
• The acquisition of land to meet practice and other athletic needs.
• Pledges of at least $8 million for a football endowment.
All three criteria were met and Old Dominion kicks off today.

Response for Monarch football has been overwhelming:
• 14,377 season tickets sold with season ticket applications made available in Feb. 2008.
• The school had to unfortunately turn away 296 season ticket orders for a total of 1,065 season tickets due to demand.
• The ODU student ticket allotment of just under 4,000 tickets were all distributed in three days. Over 1,200 ODU students were in line when distribution began on Monday, August 24th at 8 a.m. and over 2,500 student tickets were handed out on the first day. By Tuesday night, only approximately 100 student tickets were available.

The Monarchs will end the 2009 season following Saturday afternoon's game with the Keydets. Stay tuned to for information as the Monarchs gear up for spring practice.