Isaiah Harper
Isaiah Harper
Roger Steinman

Comeback Falls Short as Monarchs Suffer Setback at North Texas, 45-38

October 28, 2017
By ODU Athletics

DENTON, Texas – Old Dominion University Football was down 28-10 early in the second quarter and the Monarchs took a 38-35 lead to end the third quarter, but Nic Smith scored on a 20-yard run to give North Texas a 45-38 win Saturday night over the Monarchs.

Isaiah Harper returned two kickoffs for touchdowns and had an FBS season-high 239 kick return yards.

Nick Rice kicked a 34-yard field goal to end the first half, while Jeremy Cox scored on a one-yard run and Steven Williams gave ODU a 38-35 lead in the third quarter.

North Texas took the opening kickoff and drove 77-yards in 13 plays capped by a one-yard touchdown run from Jeffrey Wilson for the early 7-0 lead.

Isaiah Harper returned the ensuing kickoff 97-yards for his second kickoff return touchdown of the season to tie the score at seven.

The Mean Green came back quickly with a four play, 67-yard scoring drive as Mason Fine hit Rico Bussey for a 34-yard touchdown pass to put NT back on top, 14-7.

Following an ODU punt, Joe Joe Headen made a one-handed interception, leading to a 45-yard Nick Rice field goal. The key play of the drive was a 33-yard pass from Steven Williams to Melvin Vaughn. The field goal cut the North Texas lead to 14-10.

North Texas drove the length of the field again, this time a nine play, 75-yard drive and scored on a Evan Johnson six-yard touchdown run to take a 21-10 lead early in the second quarter.

Taylor Robinson blocked a Bailey Cate punt and Johnson returned it 40-yards for a North Texas touchdown and make the score 28-10 midway through the second quarter.

Harper did it again, this time a 98-yard kickoff return to make the score 28-17 North Texas.

The following possession for NT, Denzel Williams forced a fumble that Sean Carter recovered setting up a 28-yard Nick Rice field goal.

Andy Flusche gave the Mean Green a short field with an interception, setting up a one-yard touchdown run by Nic Smith making the score 35-20 North Texas.

The Monarchs drove 60-yards in 17 plays to set up a 34-yard Nick Rice field goal to end the first half. The big play of the drive was a fake punt on fourth down that Jeremy Cox converted for a first down to keep the drive alive.

Williams completed 21-of-35 passes for 181-yards and rushed for 55-yards, both career-highs. Cox rushed for 109-yards and a score. Melvin Vaughn led ODU with six catches for 69-yards, while Kevin Todd had five grabs for 45-yards.

Marvin Branch led the defense with nine tackles and Jordan Young added eight.

NOTES: Old Dominion played for the first time, and the Mean Green are the second to last team the Monarchs have played in Conference USA. ODU has yet to play UAB, who restarted football this season after a two-year hiatus … Oshane Ximines, Brandon Addison, Bunmi Rotimi and Melvin Vaughn were game captains … Isaiah Harper is the first Monarch to return two kickoffs for touchdowns in the same season … Joe Joe Headen intercepted his second pass of the season and made it two-straight games with an interception … Harper became the first Monarch to return two kickoffs for touchdowns in the same game and the 21st to return two in one game in FBS history … Steven Williams rushed for his first career touchdown … Jeremy Cox had his fourth career 100-yard rushing game and second of the season …

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