Providing Student News to Old Dominion University Since 1930

Mace & Crown

Providing Student News to Old Dominion University Since 1930

Mace & Crown

Providing Student News to Old Dominion University Since 1930

Mace & Crown

ODU Offense Shines in Home Opener with 38-31 Victory over Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns

QB Grant Wilson completed 13-19 passes for 247 yards with four TD’s and a rushing touchdown
Junior+QB+Grant+Wilson+moves+around+the+pocket+to+escape+the+pressure+from+the+Louisiana+defender.+
Nicholas Clark
Junior QB Grant Wilson moves around the pocket to escape the pressure from the Louisiana defender.

The deluge of rain crossing the 757 was not able to stop the Monarchs this past Saturday night, as they were able to play some serious football and topple the Ragin’ Cajuns of the University of Louisiana 38-31. After an initial game delay of just under an hour (55 minutes), the battle commenced between the Sun Belt opponents. 

The visiting Ragin’ Cajuns entered the contest having won their home opener against Northwestern State 38-13. The Monarchs, in contrast, dropped their first game against the Virginia Tech Hokies and fell to the Lane Stadium effect 36-17 last Saturday. For the contest on the day, the Ragin’ Cajuns were expected to win by a margin of 6 points. 

The Monarchs take Kornblau Field for the first time in the 2023 season. (Nicholas Clark)

The Monarchs looked to build on their offensive performance from last week. ODU’s offensive decisions by new QB Grant Wilson were better than in many showings last year, however, the offense was flat-logging 17 points and two touchdowns, both coming in the air. A positive from last week’s showing was the success in the run game, as Wilson gained 81 yards with his legs to offset Keshawn Wicks and Devin Roche, who both took snaps at running back. 

To say that the Monarchs built on their performance from last week would be an understatement. Fordham transfer Grant Wilson was able to throw for four touchdown passes; the most since 2018. In addition to his four passing TDs Wilson had a rushing TD off a QB draw in the second quarter. All of Wilson’s TD passes were 30+ yards — the greatest being a 61-yard go route to Cali native Reymello Murphy. 

The offensive scheme on the ground from new Offensive Coordinator Kevin Decker proved effective on the day as well. Running backs Keshawn Wicks and Obi Sanni rushed for a combined 145 yards and provided a great balance to offset the passing game. 

The first half was well-matched between both teams. The Cajuns struck on their first drive with a TD with 10:59 left in the first. The Monarchs responded to this immediately as Lamareon James had a 40-yard return and Decker threw two big receptions: one to Isiah Paige across the middle to get ODU with striking distance and another to hometown WR Ahmarian Granger, which he caught in the endzone. This drive lasted 32 seconds and tied the game at 7-7.

Junior safety Tahj Ra-El shares some words with Louisiana TE Neal Johnson Jr. (Nicholas Clark)

Play following this was a game of blows that each team took turns giving and receiving. After a TD QB draw with 18 seconds remaining in the half by Louisiana, the game was tied at 17 going into halftime. 

“My favorite part was the locker room at halftime,” Henderson remarked after the game. “It was a tie game and nobody was bowing their heads. Everyone was happy and excited. Everyone knew we needed the energy.”

This mindset was reflected in the Monarchs’ play in the final two quarters. ODU came out blazing in the first quarter as Wilson found Murphy twice in the third quarter for TD passes. The first time was with twelve and a half minutes remaining and the other with just under five minutes remaining. These two TDs were Murphy’s first in Big Blue uniform and were his only two receptions of the night, totaling 97 yards and 48.5 yards per reception. 

The defense in the third quarter was also solid. The Monarchs kept the Ragin’ Cajuns from scoring and did a quality job in pressuring the Louisiana QB and making a handful of tackles for a loss. 

Concluding the third quarter, the Monarchs found themselves ahead 31-17, but the Ragin’ Cajuns were not down for the count by any stretch. Louisiana was able to continue a drive from the third quarter in the open seconds of the fourth with a TD, making the score 31-24 with 14:57 remaining. The Monarchs were able to counter and punched back with a 37-yard TD reception by Kelby Williams bringing back the two-score lead at 38-24 with 12:28 remaining. 

Louisiana went on to score again three minutes later with a long ball that led to a TD with just over nine minutes remaining in the game. 

Junior WR Javon Harvey poses for the picture after the victory against Louisiana. (Nicholas Clark)

With this, both teams struggled for the upper hand. For ODU, it was to take a decisive lead and Louisiana had to score again to tie or if they could, execute a two-point conversion. The trading of blows came down to the final seconds, where the Ragin’ Cajuns found themselves first and goal with under three minutes remaining. 

The ODU defense rose to the occasion. They were able to stop the Ragin’ Cajuns from scoring and forced a turnover while on the ODU seven-yard line thanks to good play by the line and the secondary. Multiple passes were broken up and the Louisiana QB found himself outside the pocket many times during this decisive drive and the game as a whole, despite attempted protection by the Cajun Offensive line. 

Following this turnover, the Monarchs got the ball with 30 seconds remaining and kneeled until time expired, bringing home their first win since the mid-part of last season. Wilson accounted for five total touchdowns throughout the game having completed 13-19 passes for 247 yards. With the victory, Old Dominion moves to 1-1 (1-0 Sun Belt) on the season. 

Coach Rahne, when asked about how the win affected his locker room, commented that his team is composed of “18 to 22-year-old kids, and after a while of us working them, grinding them the way we do, they need some rewards.”

He continued during the presser to talk about how his team needed something to reassure them of the “fun of football” and it[football] being “America’s greatest sport.”

After this quality win, ODU will face another ACC opponent next week in Wake Forest, who come to the 757 for a noon kickoff next Saturday, Sept. 16, that will air on ESPN2. Following this, the Monarchs will take on Texas A&M–Commerce for homecoming on Saturday, Sept. 23 at 3:30 p.m. to close out their three-game homestretch.

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About the Contributors
Art Neal, Assistant Sports Editor
Art Neal serves as an Assistant Sports Editor for the Mace & Crown. He is in his second year at Old Dominion and is currently majoring in Biology with a concentration in Biomedical Sciences. Art is excited for the opportunity to write sports journalism and further expand his sports fanaticism that he has had since a young age. After Old Dominion, Art hopes to head off to medical school where he is hopeful for the opportunity to incorporates his journalism experiences into his future career. You can reach him at [email protected].
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]
Nicholas Clark, Photography Editor
Nicholas Clark is the photography editor. He majors in photography and print media. For fun, he likes to play golf and take pictures. Email him at [email protected]

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