FINAL VICTORY: Monarchs Down VMI 42-35

November 21, 2009
By ODU Athletics
ODU Sports

Nov. 21, 2009

Box Score

LEXINGTON, Va. -- The inaugural season of Old Dominion football came to close Saturday afternoon at Foster Stadium with the Monarchs closing out the 2009 season with a 42-35 victory over VMI and ending year number one with a 9-2 overall mark.

The first half, it seemed each time the Monarch found their way to the end zone, the Keydets would immediately respond. The see-saw first half battle saw Old Dominion up 28-21 at the half.

Nick Mayers (Va. Beach, Va.) made the first strike scoring on the Monarchs second drive of the afternoon. Mayers caught his sixth touchdown pass from quarterback Thomas DeMarco (Palm Desert, Calif.) for a 27-yard reception.

VMI immediately responded on the next drive. The triple-option offense worked its way 60 yards down field and on the eighth and final play of the series had Gabe Itoka punch through to tie the game up at 7-7.

This trend of back and forth between the two squads closed out the opening stanza. DeMarco found his way over the end line for the first of three touchdown runs on the day, quickly followed by another Keydet score. Howard Abegesah set up the drive with a 46 yard carry into the red zone and two plays later Kyle Hughes used a four-yard carry to tie the score at 14-14 all as time was winding down in the first quarter.

The Monarchs did not have to wait very long to score in the second quarter. In fact the first three drives of the second quarter would result in touchdowns - a pair for ODU and one for VMI. With ODU's drive starting with just under two minutes in the previous quarter, Old Dominion went up 21-14 as DeMarco connected with Reid Evans (Hampton, Va.) on a four-yard reception.

The Keydets pushed down field on the next drive, using 11 plays and 53 yards to help send Taj Harris in for a touchdown on a three-yard run. Harris' score tied the game up yet again, this time at 21-21.

Only 49 seconds later, Old Dominion would regain the lead for good. Starting the drive at the Keydet 46, the drive was ignited by a 51-yard pass from DeMarco to Chris Lovitt (Stafford, Va. ) to the VMI 3. Two players later, DeMarco scored touchdown number two of the day edging his way over the goal line for the 28-21 Monarch advantage heading into the locker room at the half.

The second half saw Old Dominion extend its lead. Early in the third quarter the Monarchs found themselves at 4th and 10 on the VMI 35. Calling out the special teams unit, ODU had Jonathan Plisco (Newport News, Va.) out on the field ready to punt, only it was a fake. The snap was tossed to James Edwards (Va. Beach, Va.) who then took off for a 45-yard touchdown giving the Monarchs a two touchdown edge, 35-21.

Just like in the first half, the Keydets had an answer. Just 21 seconds after the Monarchs' fake-out, Zach Collins managed to zig-zag his way through the ODU defense downfield for 71 yards.

A fumble by the Monarchs three players later gave the Keydets possession again. VMI had a chance for back-to-back scores for the first time in the game, but a 34-yard field goal sailed wide right.

Closing out the third quarter however, the Monarch bumped its lead to 42-28 with a Thomas DeMarco touchdown run. For DeMarco, who finished the day with 55 yards on 16 carries, he put away his third rushing touchdown capping off a 15-play, 80-yard drive for ODU. It was his team-leading 17th touchdown run of the season

The Keydets wrapped up scoring for the game with the lone points of the fourth quarter. Early in the quarter, Cam Harris tore downfield for 69 yards to the ODU 1 and Kyle Hughes broke through to cut the VMI deficit to 42-35. However, the Keydets would not score again.

With time winding down in the game, the Keydets got the ball all the way to the ODU 33, but an illegal block by VMI would push the Keydets back another 15 yards and make it 1st and 22 with the game creeping to a close. Unable to move the chains, Old Dominion would claim the victory.


There were a couple of plays that took the crowd for surprise on Saturday. First, the Monarchs started the game with an on-sides kick. Then in the third quarter, on 4th and 10 on the VMI 35, ODU had specials teams out on the field ready for the punt. Lo and behold,it was a fake. The snap found its way into the hands James Edwards who then took off for a 45-yard touchdown.

Saturday's ODU-VMI was the highest combined scoring game for ODU this season.

Leading the way in rushing for the first season was quarterback Thomas DeMarco. DeMarco finished the season averaging 81.1 yards per carry a game along with a team-leading 17 touchdowns. From the receiving corps, Reid Evans made 46 catches averaging 54.7 yards per game along with three touchdowns. Nick Mayers caught seven touchdowns to lead all receivers and averaged 46.8 yards per contest. Defensively, Mychael McJunkins totaled 85 tackles (57 solo, 28 assisted). Craig Wilkins had a team-high seven pass break-ups. Chad King made a team-leading 11 tackles for a total of 40 opponent yards lost. Devon Simmons led with four interceptions. Edmon McClam, Andrew Turner, and Shantea Green each had four sacks.

The Monarchs will be riding a six-game win streak into next season when they host Jacksonville. ODU will also get a taste of CAA action in 2010 hosting William & Mary in game number two of the year.

It should come as no surprise that Michael McJunkins led the Monarchs in tackles yet again. However, McJunkins' 13 tackles is the most for a Monarch this season. McJunkins had seven solo stops and six assisted tackles in the win.