GREENVILLE, N.C. – Old Dominion University football trailed by just four points heading into the fourth quarter but East Carolina pulled away late, defeating ODU 52-38 in the season opener in Greenville Saturday night.
Playing in front of the largest crowd the football Monarchs have ever played against, ODU was toe-toe- throughout the first three quarters, holding a 17-14 lead with five minutes to play in the first half and trailing by just four heading into the fourth quarter.
Junior quarterback Taylor Heinicke was 38-of-51 for 338 yards and three touchdowns while Blair Roberts caught a career-high nine passes for 74 yards and two touchdowns. Larry Pinkard hauled in eight catches for 92 yards while Colby Goodwyn had seven for 73 yards.
Heinicke was also the leading rusher, carrying 11 times for 52 yards and a score, while Goodwyn contributed 29 yards and a TD.
Shane Carden was 46-of-54 for 447 yards and five TD's for ECU while Justin Hardy set school records with 16 catches and 191 yards. Davon Grayson had just four catches, but three went for touchdowns.
Carden threw a four-yard TD pass to Isaiah Jones with just over 12 minutes to go in the fourth quarter to put ECU up 42-31 and after an ODU punt, Grayson caught his third TD of the night from Carden to go on top 49-31.
The Monarchs, who continued to battle, fought back as Heinicke hit Roberts from nine yards out to make the score 49-38. The ensuing onsides kick was just out of the reach of Larry Alston III, and ECU tacked on a late field goal for the final score.
ODU got the ball to start the second half, but Heinicke was sacked by Gabe Woullard and Ty Holmes recovered the fumble and returned it 26 yards for an ECU touchdown and a 28-17 lead.
The Monarchs struck right back as Heinicke drove ODU right back down the field, completing seven-straight passes and powering in for a seven yard rushing touchdown to cap an 11 play, 75-yard drive, to make the score 28-24.
East Carolina got on the board first, driving 75-yards in 10 plays as Shane Carden hit Danny Webster for a four-yard touchdown pass.
The Monarchs responded with a 27-yard Jarod Brown field goal. The big play of the drive was a 30-yard completion from Heinicke to Goodwyn on third down.
ODU took its first lead of the game when Heinicke complete a one-yard TD pass to Blair Roberts to cap a 95-yard touchdown drive.
East Carolina came back to take a 14-10 lead on a nine-yard pass from Carden to Grayson.
The Monarchs took the lead right back as Heinicke hit Jakwail Bailey on a deep ball over the middle for a 43-yard touchdown for a 17-14 ODU lead.
The Pirates scored as time expired in the first half on a six-yard pass from Carden to Grayson to give ECU a 21-17 halftime lead.
Game Notes: For the first time in school history, ODU played a game against an FBS opponent … The announced attendance of 44,597, is almost more than double the 23,051 that ODU played against last year at James Madison … For the 10th time in his career, Taylor Heinicke completed 30 or more passes … With 29 rushing yards, Colby Goodwyn moved into second place in ODU’s career rushing record book … Eriq Lewis recorded the first two sacks of his career … ODU scored 30 or more points for the eighth straight game. The last time ODU was kept under 30 was last year to Villanova in a 38-14 loss … With 300 plus passing yards, Heinicke topped the 300-yard mark for the 13th time in his career … Players playing in their first ODU game: Zach Pascal, Rob Thompson, Jevon Neal, Joe Pulisic, Gerard Johnson, Cam Boyd, Jake Walsh, Anthony Wilson, Richie Staton, D.J. Simon, Larry Alston III, TJ Ricks, Chris Smith, Melvin Vaughn, Gerard Shillow, Gary Scruggs, Scott Wiggins, Terrell Reid, C.J. Bradshaw and Kanyia Anderson ... ODU's 95-yard drive in the first half was tied for the third longest in school history.