COMEBACK KIDS: Monarchs Edge Jacksonville, 28-27
By ODU Athletics
Sept. 19, 2009
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- With 45 seconds left in the game, Dorian Jackson (Colonial Heights, Va.) had a 32-yard catch from quarterback Thomas DeMarco (Palm Desert, Calif.) to give Old Dominion a 28-27 come from behind victory over Jacksonville in its first ever road game.
Donovan Curry had a 52-yard field goal attempt for the Dolphins in the closing seconds, but the ball sailed wide right and the Monarchs, who trailed for almost the entire game, improved their record to 3-0.
Old Dominion, playing in their first ever road game, was also playing its first ever FCS team. Jacksonville, a team that went undefeated at D.B. Milne Field a season ago, dropped to 1-2 on the year.
The Dolphins struck first on the first drive of the game. Elliot Finkley, who had a pair of touchdowns in Jacksonville's season opening win, caught an 11-yard pass from Josh McGregor in the corner of the end zone for the quick score. Junior Edmon McClam (Cowart, S.C.), however blocked the extra point, the fourth time he's thwarted the opposition from earning the PAT.
The Monarchs reached fourth and long on their first offensive drive of the afternoon, returing possession back to the Dolphins, but it wasn't very long before Old Dominion had the ball back. Defensive back Donald Smith (Chesapeake, Va.) snagged a pass from the Dolphins' quarterback McGregor. Moving it down field, the Monarchs tried to light up the scoreboard on a field goal attempt, but redshirt freshman Drew Hareza's (McDonald, Pa.) kick went wide.
Jacksonville upped the score to 13-0 with three minutes remaining in the opening quarter. McGregor connected with Rodney Sumter on a 12-yard pass to cap off an 11-play, 71-yard drive.
The Monarchs started to clamp down on the Jacksonville offense for most of the second quarter. The Dolphins, who converted five of eight times on third down in the first quarter limited Jacksonville to converting on one of three from thrid down in the second quarter. Old Dominion broke on the scoreboard as rookie running back Mario Crawford (Detriot, Mich.) inched his way into the endzone as the Monarchs used 14 plays for the touchdown. Crawford pushed his way through the throng of Dolphin defenders for the score with the Monarchs trailing 13-7.
Sam Bell had a 27-yard reception for Jacksonville, scoring with 24 secons left in the quarter to give the Dolphins a 20-7 edge heading into the intermission.
The third quarter started off with a bang. A quick score saw the Monarchs trail just 20-14 with 13:37 in the stanza. The Monarchs' Markell Wilkins (Hampton, Va.) recovered a Finkley fumble and two plays later ODU was in the end zone. After recovering the ball at the Jacksonville 34, Crawford dashed down field for 32 yards to the two-yard line giving the Monarchs first and goal. Moments later, Crawford crossed the end line for his second touchdown of the afternoon.
The Monarchs missed its second field goal attempt to close out the third quarter and Jacksonville responded with a fast touchdown reception to open the fourth and final quarter. Larry Thompson caught the ball for the Dolphins fourth touchdown in the end zone to go ahead 27-14.
DeMarco made things exciting brining the Monarchs to within a touchdown with a 47-yard dash down the field with just over 10 minutes left in the game. Then his heroics continued.
With 2:08 minutes left in the game, the Monarchs moved the ball 91 yards to take its first lead of the game. Starting the drive at their own nine-yard line,capping the drive was a 32-yard pass from DeMarco to Dorian Jackson (Colonial Heights, Va.) with 45 seconds left.
The Dolphins had one last drive left in them, but the game ended with Jacksonville's field goal sailing wide right of the uprights.
"I'm very impressed with our players," said head coach Bobby Wilder at the end of the game. "I give a lot of credit to Ron McCrone, Jacksonville's defensive coordinator. He is sharp. It took our offensive guys a little while to figure things out, but when our offensive coaches figured it out and what he was doing on what down and distance, you saw what happened in the fourth quarter. I was very impressed that our entire operation, players and coaches, stuck together and finished this thing the right way."
DeMarco finished the game with 136 yards on the ground and completed 16 of 38 attempts for 175 yards in the air. Reid Evans (Hampton, Va.) led the receiving corps with 86 yards on seven carries.
Defensively, Craig Wilkins (Washington, D.C.) made seven tackles, including seven solo stops. Donald Smith (Chesapeake, Va.) and Chad King (Springfield, Va.) each had six tackles. Smith had an five-yard interception return and King had four tackles for loss totaling 20 yards and a 10-yard sack.
The Monarchs return to action at S.B. Ballard at Foreman Field on Saturday, September 26th at 6:00 p.m. hosting Monmouth.
DENIED: Junior Edmon McClam picked up his fourth blocked PAT of the season. McClam set the NCAA record in the Monarchs' first game back on September 5th with three extra point blocks against the Braves.
LEAVING ON A JETPLANE: There have been firsts left and right this season. First game, first road trip, first FCS opponent. This trip also marked a first for 15 members of the ODU travel party. 15 members of the ODU football squad got on a plane for the first time in their lives. While several had some nerves, most were out for a quick nap once the charter plane reached cruising altitude. CARRYING CRAWFORD: Freshman running back Mario Crawford carried the ball 16 times against the Dolphins for 89 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Last week, the Detroit, Michigan native had 10 carries for a game-high 71 yards against Virginia Union along with two TDs.
THROWING AND KICKING: Starting quarterback Thomas DeMarco made a punt in the first quarter with the Monarch on fourth and inches at the Jacksonville 49-yard line. The redshirt sophomore got a punt in of 39 yards and put the ball inside the Dolphin 20.
...SO HOW HOT WAS IT: "Heat was definitely was a factor," said head coach Bobby Wilder, "no question about it. You try to prepare for this as much as you can. When you are going full speed for three straight hours and its 95 degrees with the heat index, its hard on the kids. I can't say enough about how proud of them I am. Our training staff, Marty Bradley and his crew, did a phenomenal job of getting our guys back in there. They were hurting because of the heat, but they stuck it out and got a win."
SUDDEN CHANGE STRIKES AGAIN: Those who follow the Monarchs shouldn't be surprised they were ready for the Monarchs to pull off what they did at the end of today's game. "We do sudden change all the time in practice where they will be in the middle of some sort of warm-up and I'll yell "Sudden Change" and we'll be in the two minute drill," said head coach Bobby Wilder. "The reason you try to do that is to try and make them uncomfortable in practice and that gets them ready for situations like today. Considering this is only the third game we've played together, I thought they were very poised. There was no panic. We do it all the time, so this is what they are used to doing. If you put them through it enough, there isn't a sense of panic."
DON'T FORGET MONDAY - 12th MAN T-SHIRTS IN: There may be 11 players on the field, but Old Dominion football considers its fans the 12th Monarch in the stands. Help the Monarchs further its home field advantage by washing Foreman Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium in blue with your very own 12th Monarch T-Shirt available Monday at the ODU University Village Bookstore or at the ODUSports.com online store.