ODU Football Outlasts UTEP, 31-21
NORFOLK, Va. – Old Dominion University football used a solid effort from the defense and a school-record tying performance from Zach Pascal to pull away from UTEP for a 31-21 victory Saturday afternoon at Foreman Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium.
ODU held a 17-15 halftime lead and broke a scoreless third quarter with an 11-yard touchdown pass from David Washington to Jonathan Duhart for a 24-15 lead.
The Monarch defense stood strong in the third, allowing just 28 yards in the quarter.
Following a Fellonte Misher interception, Jeremy Cox carried for a 42-yard touchdown on the next play to lift the Monarchs to a 31-15 lead. The run was the longest of Cox's career and his first career touchdown.
UTEP came back with n eight play, 74-yard drive and scored on a six-yard touchdown pass from Mack Leftwich to Jaquan White but Aaron Young intercepted the two-point conversion to keep the game a two possession game at 31-21.
The Monarchs were able to kill a minute and half off the clock and on first down at the Miners' 36 Misher intercepted Leftwich for the second time to seal the win.
UTEP scored on their opening drive with a seven-yard touchdown pass from Mack Leftwich to Tyler Benson to cap a 10 play, 71-yard drive. The extra point was not successful.
The Monarchs answered with a 23-yard Chris Kirtley field goal to make the score 6-3. ODU’s drive was 14 plays covering 86 yards. Washington was 5-of-7 on the drive for 66 yards while Jeremy Cox rushed for 18 yards.
On the following kickoff Autrey Golden return the kick 61 yards to set up a 22-yard field goal from Jay Mattox to give the Miners a 9-3 lead late in the first quarter.
The Monarchs took a 10-9 lead early in the first half as Lawry ripped off a 42-yard touchdown run to cap off a seven play, 74-yard drive.
UTEP retook the lead on a seven play, 51-yard drive late in the first half as Leftwich tossed a 12-yard touchdown pass to Jaquan White.
Old Dominion took a 17-15 halftime lead as Washington connected with Pascal for a 26-yard touchdown pass. ODU drove 75 yards in just 58 seconds as a 23-yard pass from Washington to Jeremy Cox kept the drive alive.
Washington completed 26-of-42 passes for 291 yards and two touchdowns. Cox rushed for 84 yards and a touchdown and caught four passes for 70, all career-bests. Pascal tied the single-game school record with 12 catches for 145 yards and a touchdown. Duhart added five catches for 49 yards and a touchdown.
Justice Davila had a team-high 10 tackles while TJ Ricks had nine and a tackle for loss. Misher added seven tackles to go along with the two interceptions.
Leftwich completed 21-of-38 passes for UTEP for 193 yards and three touchdowns while Darrin Laufasa rushed for 46 yards.
Alvin Jones had a game-high 11 tackles.
Notes – Today’s game captains are Brandon Addison, Aaron Young, Jonathan Duhart and David Washington … Chris Kirtley’s 23-yard first quarter has put ODU on the board first with a field goal in three-straight games … Zach Pascal’s catch in the first quarter gives him 34-straight games with a reception … Lawry’s 42-yard touchdown run was his longest run since his 57-yard touchdown at FIU … Lawry’s 59 yards gives him 1,128 and 11 touchdowns on the season … Zach Pascal recorded his third-straight 100-yard receiving game and second-straight with double-digit catches … Jeremy Cox set career highs with 15 carries for 84 yards and his first career touchdown … He also caught a career-best four passes for 70 yards … Pascal tied the ODU single-game record with 12 catches … Nick Mayers registered 12 catches in 2012 against New Hampshire … The 10 point winning margin is ODU’s largest victory in a Conference USA game … The winning margin was ODU’s first double-digit win over an FBS opponent since the 17-3 win over Eastern Michigan in week three of last season … Fellonte Misher recorded his first two interceptions of the season and the fifth and sixth of his career … It is ODU’s first two interception game since Christian Byrum had two against Marshall last season … Martez Simpson had six tackles and a career-best two tackles for loss.
Bobby Wilder Postgame Quotes
We are now 7-7 in league play, and a 10-point win is our biggest win all time, but this was just a great overall performance today. I thought all three phases were solid. It was clear UTEP wanted to win as bad as we did, but our guys really stepped up today. I can’t stress enough how big of an impact our fans had on the game today. We got so much energy from the fans today despite having a few unimpressive performances in some of our home games earlier in the season. We really needed that energy that the fans brought today. The kids are in week 15 since preseason, and they are all tired and sore, so the fans really stepped up for us today.
I thought the biggest thing for this game was our defense making adjustments after they scored on their opening drive. They then got a really long kick return after our field goal, and our defense started to blitz them. We were having trouble stopping their power running game at first, so then we started blitzing our linebackers and bringing Fellonte Misher up closer to the action. He and Justice Davila both really stepped up for us, and Justice was in and out of the game battling an ankle injury. Kugler is one of the best offensive line coaches in the nation; they are so good up front. They only gave up eight sacks all year, and we got to them twice today. That’s a big number against UTEP. I think we have been dominant on stretches defensively the last two weeks, and by that I mean we dominated the whole second and third quarter against UTSA defensively, and today we only allowed 28 yards in the third quarter.
Offensively, David Washington continues to be a very impressive football player especially considering how much time he has been at quarterback. He didn’t turn the ball over at all against a team that was 50 percent blitz, which can often cause quarterbacks to make mistakes when the defense is blitzing linebackers and safeties. He played really smart, didn’t turn the ball over and passed the ball really well. His roommate Zach Pascal is playing like a first-team All-Conference receiver right now. He is playing as well as any receiver ever has as ODU.
Q: Was this your best defensive performance ever for ODU?
A: Yeah, I really think this was one of our best defensive performances we’ve had at ODU. We held them to 305 yards and 21 points, and I particularly like the fact we only held them to six points in the second half. The guys really wanted to pitch a shutout in the second half, too. That is really good to hear from them as a coach. I felt like our guys were just really into it, and I sensed that yesterday in practice. That was the most competitive Friday practice we’ve had in a while, and I knew they were going to come to play. I built this game up because it was one of the biggest games ever for our program, and the kids really responded to that. I don’t think there is another 5-5 team in the nation that has gotten blown out in all five of their losses. These guys show up every day and want to get better and rally around each other. This isn’t a young team anymore. These pups have grown up a lot. We are 10 games into the season now. A perfect example is Jeremy Cox, who I thought played his best game ever today. He was sensational catching and running, and he had to make some blocking adjustments and he understood everything because he’s played 10 games now. Brandon Addison has played 10 games at corner, and now he has confidence. With David Washington at quarterback, our kids feel like they can beat anybody. It reminds me of how they felt when Taylor Heinicke was our quarterback.
Q: Sometimes when you build a game up so much it can backfire. Did you know that wouldn’t happen with this group?
A: Yeah, I talked to them and had to define the difference between pressure and sense of urgency. Pressure is what you feel when you don’t know what you’re doing. A sense of urgency means you know what you’re doing, and there is something there you want. We have separated those two things. If you want this and it means enough to you, then go get it. They need to get in the training room and study their tip sheets and film. Everyone in the country is hurt right now, so they need to take advantage of things like the training room.
Q: What were your thoughts on the inadvertent whistle?
A: He just made a mistake. He apologized to me on the sideline. He thought David was coming out of bounds, so he was trying to protect the quarterback. What got lost in all that was a sensational throw by David Washington. He hit Kesean Strong right between the three and the one on his jersey. Then the head official came over to me and said “Coach, I’m sorry. We made a mistake, and I will stand here and you can yell at me as long as you’d like.” The officials in our league are extremely professional, and they rarely make a mistake. It was an innocent mistake, and fortunately it didn’t change the outcome of the game.
Q: What is the message for this week?
A: Go beat Southern Miss. If we win, it gets us to six. Finding a way to get bowl-eligible was a major goal at the beginning of this season. I think that would be a pretty remarkable accomplishment considering we’ve had five blowout losses. After leaving that locker room right now, those kids think they can beat anyone in the country.
Q: What is Ray’s situation?
A: He’s got a sore foot that he injured at UTSA. He re-injured it early in this game, but we’re pretty sure he will still play next week. He will just need some treatment this week from the medical staff.
Q: How big of a challenge will Southern Miss be?
A: We are where they were a couple years ago; they were a young team. Now, they’ve grown up. I like the way they play; they’re a really good team. I’m sure we will be double-digit underdogs, but we will go down there with nothing to lose. These kids are playing like their hair is on fire, and they believe they can beat anyone with David at quarterback. We will be aggressive, and just go down there with nothing to lose.