Originally published November 1, 2021.
After so many heartbreaking losses so far this season, the Old Dominion football team was finally able to be on the winning side again. The Monarchs came into Saturday’s matchup on a five-game losing streak and were 1-6 (0-3 C-USA) on the season. It has been a special week for ODU Athletics and the Football program, after the news earlier this week of the school’s move from the C-USA to the Sun Belt Conference. Also, we saw the reemergence of the all-black uniforms make its way onto the gridiron again in spite of Halloween weekend.
To begin the game, LA Tech won the toss and deferred to the second half. The ODU offense was first to take the field. The drive was taking shape for ODU with a strong running attack from sophomore RB Blake Watson. The Monarchs were well in Bulldog territory, and it seemed that they would at least get three points. This was until a sack on freshman QB Hayden Wolff put ODU out of range to attempt a field goal. The Bulldogs offense came out for the first time of the day and put up a quality drive into Monarch territory, until the ODU defense came up with a stop on third down towards midfield. It was clear that ODU wanted to establish the run and they did so, early on. The offense for ODU wasn’t able to convert on third and nine, and were forced to punt again. For the rest of the quarter, both teams weren’t able to really move the ball and it was a back and forth defensive effort. The score would remain tied at zero at the end of 15.
In the beginning of the second quarter, it was similar to what the first quarter showed offensively, up until the Bulldogs got into Monarch territory again. They attempted a 50-yard field goal, but it did not have the distance, so the score remained tied at zero. The game began to start taking shape as both teams were able to start moving the ball. Later in the quarter, Watson had a 21-yard burst downfield to put the Monarch offense back into Bulldog territory. Wolff found his target in sophomore Ali Jennings to get ODU into the red zone. After unsuccessfully converting on third down, senior kicker Nick Rice would get the first points of the game from a 36-yard field goal attempt to give ODU a 3-0 lead. LA Tech would respond pretty quickly on their next drive. QB Austin Kendall found his receiver wide open in the end zone for a 32-yard touchdown pass to take the lead over ODU 7-3. On the ensuing kickoff, freshman LaMareon James received the kick and took it for 100-yards to the house to give the Monarchs the lead again 10-7. At this point, the Bulldogs only had under a minute in the half to work with. They would push the ball downfield and get into field goal range to tie the game at 10 to go into the half.
Coming out of the half, both teams would exchange possessions before the Monarch offense got downfield with a pass to sophomore TE Zack Kuntz. After the play, there was a targeting penalty on the defender and he was ejected from the game. The catch and penalty yardage got the Monarchs into the red zone again. Watson ran the ball for 10-yards and pushed the ODU offense to the 5-yard line. On the next play, Wolff would find Kuntz for a 5-yard touchdown pass to regain the lead 17-10. LA Tech would not take long to answer, as they made their way into Monarch territory and would get another field goal from 44-yards out to cut the score to 17-13. ODU would lead 17-13 after three quarters of play.
In the final 15 minutes of the game, LA Tech got into the Monarch red zone off of a 33-yard pass downfield from their QB Kendall. On second and goal, the Bulldogs would punch it in from seven yards out to regain the lead 20-17 over Old Dominion, with under 12 minutes left. On the next possession, the Monarch offense took control of the game with a 10 minute, 21 play drive that ended with another field goal from Rice. This would tie the game at 20, with under two minutes to play. The Monarchs needed a huge stop from their defense to either take the game into overtime or have another chance to try to win it in regulation. The Bulldogs moved the ball to midfield and the Monarch defense made their presence heard with huge third and fourth down stops to get the ball back with just 28 seconds left in the game. Wolff found Kuntz for 10-yards to move the ball to the LA Tech 45 yard line. Watson would run the ball downfield multiple times to put ODU into position for a last second field goal attempt. From 46-yards out, Rice would kick the ball through the uprights as time expired. The Monarchs came out with a win over LA Tech 23-20. It was the first win for ODU over an FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) school since 2018.
After the game, Coach Ricky Rahne expressed the joy for his players and his message to the team about going out and winning the game. “I’m so happy for the kids,” Rahne stated. “I told them I wanted them to think about how good it would be to come into that locker room after a win. There was no pain, mental or physical, not worth it to win that game and celebrate with your brothers.”
Old Dominion improved their record to 2-6 (1-3 C-USA) on the year. Next, they will be traveling down to Miami, Florida to face off with Florida International University, who are 1-7 (0-4 C-USA). Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. on Nov. 6.