NORFOLK, Va. -- Old Dominion ran for three touchdowns and the Monarch defense recorded seven sacks, as ODU defeated Albany, 31-17, in the season opener on Saturday evening at Foreman Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium.
Old Dominion (1-0) jumped out to an early lead behind Ray Lawry's 41-yard rushing touchdown in the first quarter. Brandon Simmons and Gemonta Jackson each added goal-line scores in the second quarter to provide the Monarchs with a 21-3 lead heading into halftime.
Following kicker Nick Rice's first career field goal midway through the third quarter, Albany (0-1) responded with back-to-back touchdowns to cut the ODU lead to 24-17 with 8:42 remaining. However, Blake LaRussa connected with Jonathan Duhart on a 55-yard touchdown pass less than a minute later to extend the Monarch lead back to double digits and secure the 14-point victory for ODU. Duhart finished with 97 yards on five receptions.
LaRussa, in his first career start, finished the game with 161 yards and a touchdown on 14-of-20 passing. Lawry led the ODU ground game with 44 yards.
Defensively, Bunmi Rotimi recorded two sacks and Miles Fox had seven tackles and 1.5 sacks. Marvin Branch led the team in tackles with eight and added an interception.
NOTES: ODU sold out for the 55-straight game since restarting football in 2009 … Ray Lawry scored his 39th career rushing touchdown and 41st overall of his career … Jeremy Cox fumbled for the first time in his career in the first quarter. He had gone 233-straight carries without a fumble … Marvin Branch recorded his first career interception in the first quarter … Brandon Tyson, Jordan Young and Andre Bernhard started their first career games for the defense … Blake LaRussa and Isaac Weaver started for the first time on offense … Nick Rice kicked his first career extra point … Brandon Simmons scored his first career touchdown in the second quarter … With a pair of sacks Bunmi Rotimi became ODU’s all-time sacks leader with 15.5 sacks … Nijee Cox his first career pass to convert a first down late in the second quarter … Nick Rice kicked a 26-yard field goal for the first field goal of his career … Blake LaRussa completed a 55-yard touchdown pass to Jonathan Duhart with eight minutes left in the fourth quarter, his first career touchdown pass … 14 players played their first NCAA collegiate game, including Isaac Weaver, Jordan Young, Jordan Hoy, Brandon Sinclair, Noah Ellison, Joe Joe Headen, Lawrence Garner, Zach Lackman, Demetrius Stitmon, Juwan Ross, Eric Magwood, A.J. Davison, Jake Herslow and Nick Rice … Seven sacks by the defense is an ODU single-game record … Rotimi led the way with two sacks, while Miles Fox had 1.5, Pat Toal and Oshane Ximines had one each, and Jordan Young had half a sack … ODU has now won 11-straight over FCS opponents … The 285 yards of total offense is the fewest in an ODU win since Oct. 8, 2011, a 31-23 win at Rhode Island (Taylor Heinicke’s first career start) … It was the first time ODU has been held to under 300 yards since Oct. 3, 2015 at Marshall.