WHAT A RIDE: Monarchs Season Ends With Second Round Loss at Georgia Southern

December 03, 2011
By ODU Athletics
ODU Sports

Dec. 3, 2011

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STATESBORO, Ga. -- The Old Dominion Football Monarchs' 2011 season came to a close on Saturday with a 55-48 second round playoff loss at third-seeded Georgia Southern at Paulson Stadium.

In just their third season of play, the Monarchs conclude the 2011 season at 10-3 overall.

Six different Monarchs were the in the scoring mix led by Prentice Gill with 154 yards receiving and two touchdowns. ODU quarterback Taylor Heinicke threw for five touchdowns and 341 yards.

Dominique Swope led the Eagles triple option offense with 255 yards on 31 carries with a pair of touchdowns. Georgia Southern totaled 477 yards on the ground.

The Monarchs and Eagles combined for 1167 yards of total offense. Old Dominion's 560 yards of offense were the most yards allowed by Georgia Southern this season.

Quarterback Taylor Heinicke got the Monarchs to within a touchdown with 39 seconds left in the game at 55-48, but ODU's on-side kick went to Georgia Southern to seal the six-time national champions' way to the third round against fellow CAA member Maine.

After scoring occurred in nine of ten drives, going back to the game's opening quarter, the see-saw battle between ODU and Georgia Southern came to a lull late in third quarter with the Monarchs trailing 41-35. While ODU failed to convert at fourth and one at the GSU40, a fumble by the Eagles on the ensuing Georgia Southern possession at the ODU 2 in the early moments of the fourth quarter had the Monarchs recapture possession on the Craig Wilkins recovery

Just as the Monarchs got into Eagle territory, ODU fumbled and resulted in Georgia Southern's Jaybo Shaw capturing his second touchdown of the game four plays later and the first back-to-back scoring by a team in the game. The two-point conversion gave Georgia Southern a 49-35 lead with 8:15 remaining.

Old Dominion cut into the lead with 6:21 remaining with a 19-yard touchdown reception by Prentice Gill, but Jarod Brown's PAT was blocked and the Monarchs' trailed 49-41.

The Monarchs tried their first on-side kick of the game, but the Eagles took possession in ODU territory. Swope fumbled the ball in the end zone, but Georgia Southern's Nico Hickey recovered the ball for the touchdown with just over two minutes left in the game giving the Eagles a 55-41 edge.

A minute and half later, the Monarchs were facing being down by just a touchdown. Looking at fourth and seven at their own 37, Heinicke found Prentice Gill for a 30-yard completion and then scrambled for 13 yards into the red zone and capped the drive with his 20-yard over the goal setting up the Monarchs to attempt on the on-side kick.

Defensively, Chad King lead all defenders with 10 tackles (7 solo, 3 assisted), a career-high for the senior Monarch. Linebacker John Darr also collected eight tackles, while safety Carvin Powell and defensive linemen Edmon McClam and Erik Saylor each had seven. Saylor also registered the Monarchs' 11th blocked kick of the year thwarting a Georgia State PAT attempt and halting the Eagles' Adrian Mora's string of a FCS record 151 consecutive made extra points.

Since restarting its football team in 2009, Old Dominion has become the winningest start-up program in FCS history with a three-year total of 27 wins and only eight losses. In 2011, the Monarchs garnered their first national ranking, including cracking the top ten after concluding the regular season at 9-2 overall and 6-2 mark in the Colonial Athletic Association, a league which sent five teams to the post-season.

The Monarchs graduate only eight seniors from the roster - defensive linemen Ronnie Cameron, Chad King, and Edmon McClam, linebacker J.J. Williams, quarterback Thomas DeMarco, offensive linemen Ryan Jensen and Jeremy Hensley, and wide receiver Prentice Gill.


Nick Mayers, who entered Saturday's game as the Monarch's leading receiver with 57 catches and seven touchdowns, got the starting nod at corner. He also saw time at his normal wide receiver position making five catches for 35 yards.

Angus Harper, who posted his 10th career touchdown and tied the game at 7-7 midway through the first quarter, became the second Monarch with 10 or more rushing touchdowns in a season. Thomas DeMarco is the other Monarch with double digit rushing scores having 10 rushing TDs in ODU's inaugural campaign in 2009.>

Special teams now has 23 blocks to its credit in the last three seasons, including 11 in the 2011 season, which according to an unofficial poll of FCS schools are the most by an FCS school this season. The Monarchs had five blocked punts and five blocked field goals entering the game and blocked its first extra point attempt of the year after Erik Nico had scored on a 13-yard run to put Georgia Southern up 41-35 with 3:45 left in the third quarter. Erik Saylor blocked Eagles' Adrian Mora's extra point attempt to snap his streak of 151 consecutive made PATs which was an FCS record.

ODU is 3-3 this season against the Top 25 and 3-5 all-time against opponents appearing in the polls. In all, ODU faced a trio of Top Ten programs with a victory over James Madison and losses at Delaware and Georgia Southern this season.

#12/13 William & Mary (L, 17-21) on September 18th, 2010

#14/16 Cal Poly (L, 37-50) on October 9th, 2010 

#7/6 Delaware (L, 17-27) on September 24, 2011  

#20 UMass (W, 48-33) on October 2, 2011 

#17/23 Towson (L, 35-39) on October 15, 2010

#9/10 James Madison (W, 23-20) on October 29, 2011

#19/22 Norfolk State (W, 35-18) on November 26, 2011

#3/2 Georgia Southern (L, 48-55) on December 3, 2011

ODU dropped to 4-2 this season and 11-3 all-time on the road. Old Dominion had won three straight games away from the friendly confines of Foreman Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium prior to Saturday's loss to the Eagles. ODU's last road loss was a a 27-17 setback at #6/7 Delaware on Sept. 24 of this season after having won seven straight away from the friendly confines of Foreman Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium. Prior to the Blue Hen loss, the Monarchs last loss on the road was a 34-29 setback at Fordham on Oct. 3, 2009.

Taylor Heinicke tied the school record for touchdown passes with five after setting the record last week in the first round victory over Norfolk State.

The Monarchs average of 7.3 yards per rush against Georgia Southern, the largest average in school history. In all, ODU carried the ball 29 times for 219 yards led by quarterback Taylor Heinicke's 75 yards on seven carries with the true freshman averaging 10.7 yards per carry. The previous high in average rush per carry for the Monarchs was 6.8 yards agains Georgetown in 2009.

Senior quarterback Thomas DeMarco got into the mix on several occasions on Saturday. Originally looked at as a punter when he was at the College of the Desert prior to Old Dominion, Demarco had two punts averaging 26.0 yards.

He also ran a pair of fake punts that helped result in first downs for the Monarchs. DeMarco's first was on the Monarchs' opening drive with ODU at fourth and six at their own 35. DeMarco's other was on the Monarchs' first drive of the third quarter with ODU at fourth and sixth at the their own 45. While his pass was incomplete to Larry Pinkard, pass interference by the Eagles continued the ODU drive and Pinkard would later catch an eight-yard pass in the end zone to tie the game at 35-35