NORFOLK, Va. - Taylor Heinicke hit Blair Roberts for a 27-yard touchdown pass with 28 seconds to go to lift Old Dominion University football to a 21-17 victory Saturday night at Foreman Field at S.B Ballard Stadium.
The Monarchs trailed 17-7 in the fourth quarter, but Aaron Evans returned a punt 64-yards for a touchdown with 4:22 remaining in the game to put ODU within three at 17-14.
The Old Dominion defense, which held Liberty to 17 points and the second lowest output of the season, stopped Liberty and forced a punt to give ODU the ball back at the 27-yardline with 1:20 to play in the game to set up the game-winning touchdown.
Liberty drove to the ODU 35 but Fellonte Misher batted down a hail mary attempt from Josh Woodrum.
The defense was the star of the night for the Monarchs, as ODU allowed just 17 points and forced seven Liberty punts. ODU gave up 400 yards of total offense, however, held Liberty to just 106 yards of rushing and 2.9 yards per attempt. The Flames came into the game averaging 174 yards rushing and 4.7 yards per attempt.
Misher led ODU with 11 tackles, including knocking down the Hail Mary on the last play of the game, and recovered a fumble, his second of the year. Richie Staton had eight tackles and a tackle for loss while John Darr had six tackles, two tackles for loss and a forced fumble.
Each teams defense produced stops to start the game, but Liberty’s offense got the scoring started with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Woodrum to Gabe Henderson.
The Monarchs answered with a seven-play, 65-yard drive capped by Heinicke’s 12-yard touchdown toss to Roberts. The drive was highlighted by Antonio Vaughan’s 33-yard one-handed reception to give ODU first down at 12 Flames 12-yardline.
Liberty ended the first half with a six-play, 29-yard drive as John Lunsford kicked a 52-yard field goal as time expired to give the Flames a 10-7 halftime lead.
Heinicke finished the day 39-of-52 for 450 yards and two touchdowns. Roberts had seven catches for 86 yards and two scores while Larry Pinkard had five catches for 98-yards. Antonio Vaughan added five receptions for 108 yards.
Notes – Old Dominion sold out for the 33rd straight-time since starting football in 2009 … For the first time this season, the ODU defense forced a three and out on the first drive of the game … It was also the first time this season ODU did not allow an opponent to score on the opening drive … Heinicke threw his 82nd career TD pass in the first quarter to Blair Roberts on a 12-yard strike … It was Roberts’ fourth TD of the year … Heinicke tossed his 83rd career TD and Roberts caught his fifth of the year for the game-winner with 28 seconds to go … The fourth quarter shutout by the ODU defense was the second of the year and the seventh in the last 19 games by the defense … Fellonte Misher, ODU’s leading tackler with 51, recorded his second double-digit tackle game of the season with 11 … Aaron Evans’ 64 yard punt return touchdown was the first punt return touchdown of his career ... The punt return was just the second of his career … Evans ran a kick back 92-yards for a touchdown in 2010 vs. Savannah State … Eriq Lewis produced a key sack in the game in the fourth quarter to lead to a Liberty punt … Lewis leads ODU with 2.5 sacks … ODU was held to a 1 for 6 red zone efficiency… ODU had QB hurries in the game led by Andrew Everett’s two … Colby Goodwyn had 10 carries for 41 yards to lead the Monarchs in rushing … Goodwyn is 42 rushing yards away from passing Thomas DeMarco on the school’s all-time rushing list … Antonio Vaughan had five receptions for 108 yards to record his fifth career 100-yard receiving game … Roberts and Goodwyn each had seven catches for ODU.