Monarchs Earn 30-16 Victory Over FAU, Extends Win Streak to Three

By Benjamin Draper, Sports Editor

Originally published November 15, 2021.


On a very chilly afternoon in Norfolk, VA., the Old Dominion Monarchs(3-6, 2-3 C-USA) were back in town and hosted the Florida Atlantic Owls(5-4, 3-2 C-USA). It may have been one of the funkiest, yet highly competitive football games that you’ll see, but it was a pivotal game for both teams coming into Saturday. ODU has to win out the rest of the season in order to clinch a bowl berth as FAU needed the win to clinch themselves. The Monarchs came into Saturday on back-to-back victories against LA Tech and FIU.


Old Dominion won the toss and deferred to the second half. FAU would be able to run the ball on the first few plays, but the defense for ODU would hold firm on third and five and force a punt. On the Monarchs first down, Sophomore RB Blake Watson bursted downfield for 40-yards to put ODU into Owls territory. On the ensuing set of downs, Junior QB Hayden Wolff found freshman Isiah Paige who ran the ball to the first down before fumbling and an Owls recovery that was returned for 52-yards to the Monarchs 24-yard line. Although FAU started the drive in great field position, the Monarchs defense would not allow a first down and would force a successful field goal attempt that gave the Owls a 3-0 lead. ODU came out on their next possession and would go three and out, but on the ensuing punt, the FAU punt returner lost control of the ball on the catch and it led to a Monarch recovery inside the Owls 10-yard line. On first and goal, Paige rushed it for six yards to the Owls three-yard line. The Monarchs would shoot themselves in the foot again with a fumble on second and goal that led to a FAU recovery. The Monarch defense came up huge with a sack on the FAU QB in the end zone for a safety to make the score 3-2 Owls. Late in the first quarter, a promising drive for the Owls turned into nothing when they missed the 42-yard field goal attempt. The score would stay 3-2 FAU going into the second.

In the second quarter, the Monarchs drove the ball downfield and got into range for Senior Kicker Nick Rice, but he would also miss the field goal attempt from 33-yards out. FAU would not get anything going on their ensuing drive and pinned ODU deep in their red zone to start the drive. After a facemask penalty on FAU, Wolff would find his TE Zack Kuntz who ran it downfield for 21-yards and got the Monarchs back into Owl territory. The offense would not be able to convert on third and four, but the punt from Freshman Punter Ethan Duane pin the Owls at their two-yard line. The ODU defense put the pressure on the FAU QB and forced him to throw it away, which resulted in a ‘intentional grounding’ penalty that occurred in the end zone, giving ODU another safety on the day and gave the Monarchs their first lead 4-3. After the safety, the ODU offense came back onto the field. With the running game from Watson and several pass completions from Wolff, the Monarchs got into the Owls red zone again. With under a minute left in the half, on a second and five from the FAU 12-yard line, Watson would find a lane and dive into the end zone extending the ODU lead to 11-3. FAU would run the clock out and it was halftime.


Coming out of halftime, the Monarchs received the kickoff to begin the second half. The first drives of the half for either team ended in punts. After the FAU punt, the ODU offense made its way back onto the field and would get downfield into the Owls red zone again, but they would have to settle for three as Rice redeemed his miss earlier in the game to extend the ODU lead to 14-3. The Owls would come back on their next drive and score a touchdown off a 59-yard pass to make the game 14-10 ODU. Old Dominion would not back down and got back onto the field and drove it inside the FAU ten-yard line before being stopped on third and goal. Rice would trot back out and kick it through the uprights to give ODU a 17-10 lead late in the third quarter.


In the final fifteen minutes of the game, the ODU offense wasn’t able to punch it in on fourth and three from the Owls three-yard line which led to another field goal made by Rice that made the lead 20-10. FAU would come back onto the field and move the ball up into ODU territory. On a third and four from the ODU 41-yard line, FAU QB would thread the needle with a 39-yard throw that got the Owls inside the Monarch five-yard line. On the next play, they punched it in and cut into the deficit. The Monarchs blocked the ensuing PAT attempt and returned it 80-yards for another two points making the game 22-16 ODU. Later in the quarter, the Monarchs defense got the stop they needed and it gave Wolff and the ODU offense an opportunity to ice the game. On second down at their 42-yard line, Wolff found Freshman Jordan Bly for 37-yards to get the Monarchs down to the FAU 21-yard line. After a few rushes from Watson, Wolff would throw a dime to his receiver Paige in the end zone for 14-yards to put the game out of reach. On the ensuing two-point conversion, Wolff threw to Jennings at the four-yard line who then tossed the ball back to Watson and he pounded his way into the end zone to build the lead at 30-16 with 2:48 left in the game. FAU would not have much of an answer and were stopped on fourth and one towards midfield. Wolff and the ODU offense would go into victory formation and that was the ballgame. Old Dominion defeated FAU 30-16 and extended their win streak to three games.

Wolff completed 21 of his 33 passes in the matchup for 289 yards. He threw for a touchdown and no interceptions. His big plays in the game included a 48-yard pass to Ali Jennings and a 46-yard pass to tight end Donta Anthony. Watson rushed the ball 23 times for 163 yards and a touchdown. It was Watson’s fifth game in a row with more than 100 rushing yards. The Monarch offense had 448 total yards on the day. On the defensive side, ODU’s defense scored two safeties, the most in a Conference USA game since 1996.


In the post-game presser, Head Coach Ricky Rahne shared his thoughts on how the game played out. “It’s the most unusual game I’ve ever been to,” Rahne stated. “You try and try and try as a coach to put your kids in as many situations as possible to try to replicate game-like scenarios and under no circumstance would I be able to replicate what happened tonight.”


The Monarchs were last in the C-USA East Division a few weeks ago, but with the winning streak, ODU have pulled into a four-way tie for third place with FAU, Charlotte and Middle Tennessee. With the win Saturday, Old Dominion improved their record to 4-6, 3-3 C-USA. If the Monarchs can win their last two games they can finish the season at 6-6. It would be ODU’s first non-losing season since 2016 and also making the Monarchs bowl eligible for the first time since 2016. ODU will travel to Tennessee on Nov. 20 to play Middle Tennessee in hope of extending the winning streak and also keeping their bowl dreams alive. Kickoff is slated for 3:30 p.m.