ODU Faces Offensive Struggles; Shutout Against Marshall 12-0


Elena Harris

ODU sophomore defenders LaMareon James #2 and Deeve Harris #11 collide with the Marshall receiver on the play.

By Benjamin Draper, Sports Editor

In order to win football games, you’re going to need to score points. The Old Dominion offense was unable to move the ball efficiently and they were toppled by Marshall’s defense 12-0. The Herd forced four turnovers throughout the afternoon and relied on their freshman kicker Rece Verhoff to make 4-5 field goals to claim the victory. This was the first time ODU has been shut out since 2017 when they fell to No. 13 Virginia Tech 38-0. 

Sophomore QB Hayden Wolff #11 turns to his receiver and steps into the throw. (Elena Harris)

The Monarchs returned home after a two-week road trip that resulted in back-to-back losses. With their third straight defeat, their record stands at 3-6 (2-3 Sun Belt). Marshall stunned No. 8 Notre Dame 26-21 in South Bend earlier this season, but they’ve struggled since then. With this victory over ODU, they improved their record to 5-4 (1-3 Sun Belt). 

The Monarchs started the game with possession. Sophomore quarterback Hayden Wolff led ODU on a positive drive that reached midfield, but the offense was held up on third down. Throughout the first quarter, both teams struggled to move the ball and the score stood at 0 after one. Early in the second, the Herd offense established the running game and got into the Monarch red zone, but ODU held Marshall to a 33-yard field goal from Verhoff to make the score 3-0. 

On the ensuing drive, Wolff found his target in sophomore wide receiver Isaiah Spencer for 18 yards on first down. During the next play, the Monarchs stumbled over themselves after Wolff completed a pass to backup quarterback DJ Mack Jr. who took it up the field before fumbling the ball, which was returned 20 yards from the Herd defense down to the ODU 22-yard line. 

Four plays later, the Marshall offense was held on third and goal and forced to settle for three points again. Verhoff converted the 26-yard field goal, bringing the Marshall lead to 6-0. After a series of punts on the next few drives, the Herd offense continued their rhythm. They drove it down the field before being intercepted by sophomore safety Shawn Asbury to regain Monarch possession. The game remained 6-0 for the rest of the half. 

Senior Tobias Harris #20 clamps down on his target after the reception is made. (Elena Harris)

After back-to-back punts to open up the second half, Marshall marched 63 yards down the field deep into Monarch territory. The Herd used their power on the ground to move the ball, but the ODU defense prevailed on third down and forced a 30-yard field goal from Verhoff, which increased the Marshall lead to 9-0. 

Wolff and the Monarch offense continued to struggle on their end as they were forced to another punt. Although ODU was only in a nine-point deficit, the offense failed to close that gap. Marshall held their 9-0 advantage going into the final quarter.

To begin the fourth quarter, Wolff was intercepted again on a third and 17 that was returned by the Marshall defender for seven yards to the ODU 24-yard line. The Monarch defense continued to shine on their side of the ball as they held the Herd offense out of the end zone and only surrendered three points. Verhoff converted the ensuing 23-yard field goal, bringing the Marshall lead to 12-0 with about 11 minutes to play. 

Old Dominion’s defense stayed stagnant and the game remained 12-0. With six minutes left in the contest, Verhoff went for the 41-yard field goal, but it was blocked by the ODU defense and it was the Monarch’s football. The game remained at bay the rest of the way and the Monarchs fell to Marshall 12-0. 

Overall, Marshall outgained Old Dominion in total yards with 387 to 209. The 209 yards was a season-low for the Monarch offense. ODU has been known for their rushing attack, but that was nowhere to be found this afternoon, as they only accumulated 11 total yards. After the game, head coach Ricky Rahne acknowledged that ODU beat themselves more than Marshall beat them. 

After the interception, the ODU defense trots off of the field in excitement. (Elena Harris)

“You have to score points to win games and we didn’t do that,” Rahne stated. “They are very talented, but we made them look better today than they are.”

Next up for the Monarchs is rivalry week, when they will welcome James Madison to Norfolk next weekend for the home finale. ODU and JMU will square off on the gridiron for the first time in a decade. The last time was when they were both Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) members. The game is ODU’s second sellout this season, along with the home opener against Virginia Tech. Among the ODU faithful, this matchup against the Dukes means just as much, if not more, than a game with the Hokies. This “battle of royalty” in the Commonwealth will surely be rowdy. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m.