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Providing Student News to Old Dominion University Since 1930

Mace & Crown

Providing Student News to Old Dominion University Since 1930

Mace & Crown

Mistakes Set Back ODU Football Team in 36-17 Defeat Against Virginia Tech

QB Grant Wilson made his debut for Old Dominion with two touchdowns
Sophomore+wide+receiver+Dominic+Dutton+looks+on+after+scoring+his+first+touchdown+of+the+season+for+ODU.+
Paris Jackson
Sophomore wide receiver Dominic Dutton looks on after scoring his first touchdown of the season for ODU.

In the four meetings that Old Dominion and Virginia Tech have met on the gridiron, the home teams have gained the victory in each contest. Last season, the Monarchs upset the Hokies 17-14 in the home opener. That would remain the same on Saturday night, with turnovers and costly mistakes hindering the ODU football team, causing them to come up short against Virginia Tech 36-17. 

It marked the debut for offensive coordinator Kevin Decker and junior quarterback Grant Wilson, who both transferred to Old Dominion during the offseason from Fordham. Despite having only 18 attempts in his collegiate career, a strong fall camp and chemistry with Decker gave the coaching staff the confidence to name Wilson the starter for the Monarchs. Grant threw for 13 of 25 (52 percent) for 94 yards and two touchdowns while gaining 81 yards with his legs on 19 attempts.

Junior quarterback Grant Wilson warms up for his debut against Virginia Tech. (Paris Jackson)

Head coach Ricky Rahne shared his thoughts on his quarterback’s performance, acknowledging that there is work to be done offensively. 

“I think he played tough. There were a couple of reads that I know he’d like back, but we’ve got to be more consistent doing our job at the wide receiver position, pass protection, and other things like that.”

65,632 fans from both schools filed into Lane Stadium for this anticipated Cross-Commonwealth matchup. Pre-game festivities concluded with the traditional ‘Enter Sandman’ entrance. Fans made their presence felt, with tens of thousands of Hokie faithful jumping to their team’s arrival. 

From start to finish, the Monarchs trailed in this matchup and played catch-up. Throughout the first quarter, it was a defensive-sided contest, with the ODU defense showcasing their grit early on. On the second drive of the evening for the Hokies, they were able to march their way down inside the ODU 10-yard line but hit a brick wall on the ensuing set of downs. On fourth and goal from the 1-yard line, Hokies quarterback Grant Wells threw an incompletion in the endzone, which gave the Monarchs the stop they needed.

The Hokies are welcomed into Lane Stadium to their traditional ‘Enter Sandman’ by Metallica. (Paris Jackson )

On the ensuing drive, the ODU offense faced 98 yards of grass ahead of them, but their drive would halt after Wilson missed his junior wide receiver Javon Harvey on third down and eight, which forced the Monarchs to punt it away on fourth down. However, the snap sailed past the head of junior punter Ethan Duane and into ODU´s endzone, where Tech scored a safety, jumping ahead 2-0. The Hokies capitalized on their next drive by pushing 55 yards down the field in ten plays, resulting in Wells finding his receiver, Jaylin Lane, for a 20-yard touchdown pass, making the score 9-0. 

Offensively, ODU was held in check in the first quarter, but after the Tech touchdown, Wilson and junior running back Keshawn Wicks led the Monarchs offense down the field for their first signs of life in the game. Wicks ran for 33 yards on seven attempts. After converting the third down and getting into the Hokie red zone, Wilson looked to his left and found sophomore wide receiver Dominic Dutton for the 16-yard score that brought the Monarchs within two. 

Toward the end of the half, the Virginia Tech offense put together another scoring drive of eight plays for 62 yards that was highlighted by a 32-yard reception from Wells to Lane. This opened the door for the former Monarch wide receiver Ali Jennings III, who transferred to Tech over the offseason. On second and eight from the ODU 10-yard line, Jennings struck a blow against his former team with his touchdown reception, extending the Hokie advantage to 16-7. 

Sophomore kicker Ethan Sanchez boots it through the uprights to give Old Dominion the late score in the half. (Paris Jackson)

With two minutes to play in the half, the ODU offense established another scoring drive. The rushing attack from Wicks brought the Monarchs within field goal range. As the time expired, sophomore kicker Ethan Sanchez booted the ball through the uprights, making it 16-10 at halftime. 

Coming out of the break, ODU was first on the field for offense, but they fell victim to turnovers as junior running back Kadariush Calloway fumbled the ball after gaining the first down. The Hokies were able to capitalize off the fumble as Wells found Da’Quan Felton for 34 yards, putting Tech into favorable field position. After a few plays, Jennings hauled in his second touchdown of the evening with a 6-yard reception in the left side of the endzone. After the Hokie score, the Monarchs’ offense returned the favor and put together a nine-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a throw-down pass to Wicks for the 5-yard touchdown, bringing the game back to 23-17. 

The Virginia Tech offense found their rhythm throughout the 3rd quarter and was able to retaliate with another touchdown drive, extending their lead back to 30-17. After the Hokie score, ODU trotted onto the field and tried to reignite momentum, but they would make their third big mistake of the evening with another fumble on the run from freshman running back Devin Roche. From then on, Virginia Tech took firm control of the game.

Virginia Tech went on to tally two more field goals in the fourth quarter, extending their lead to 36-17. Midway through the fourth, Wilson threw his first interception of the season. The ball sailed past his target and was picked off by Hokie defender Dorian Strong. The Monarchs lost to the Hokies 36-17 and begin the 2023 season at 0-1.

ODU ran for over 200 rushing yards, with frontrunners Wilson and Wicks accounting for 81 yards and 73 yards respectively. The pivotal stat of the evening for both schools was the turnover margin as Virginia Tech had zero while Old Dominion had three. The Hokies passing game played a vital role in their victory as Wells threw for 259 yards and three touchdowns on 18 of 30 pass attempts. 

Junior cornerback LaMareon James and the Monarch defense showcase their grit against the Hokies. (Paris Jackson )

 There were many good things to note in the Monarchs’ performance, especially their run efficiency, but the team has some things to improve on as well. As for Wilson at the quarterback position, there is a lot of promise for him as a dual-threat going forward.

“A lot of things went right. We executed the game plan well at times, but we also shot ourselves in the foot too many times,” Rahne said. “I just didn’t think we did our job enough, and that’s on all of us. It’s not back to the drawing board for us. It’s just back to practice.” 

Coming up for Old Dominion is their home opener this Saturday under the S.B. Ballard lights, where they open up Sun Belt Conference play against the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns. ODU will celebrate First Responders Night where they will honor the local heroes. Kick-off is slated for 6 p.m.

 

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About the Contributor
Benjamin Draper, Sports Editor
Benjamin serves as the Sports Editor for Mace and Crown. He is a junior who majors in Communications, more specifically ‘Media Studies’ along with a minor in Sports Management. He is very excited for the opportunity of leading the sports staff at the Mace & Crown. Since he was 4 years old, Benjamin has wanted to pursue a career in sports media as a Broadcaster/Reporter. On the side, he does broadcasting/production for the ODU Esports program and is Sports Director for WODU Studios. After college, Benjamin hopes to land an opportunity in a sports media role at the professional level whether its a media outlet or sports franchise. You can reach him at [email protected]

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