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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 Football’s Upset Chances Dashed by Second-Half Struggles in 27-24 Loss to Wake Forest

Monarchs gave up season-high 10 sacks in Defeat
Junior+linebacker+Jason+Henderson+scrambles+for+the+loose+ball+on+the+play.
Nicholas Clark
Junior linebacker Jason Henderson scrambles for the loose ball on the play.

It was a tale of two halves for the Old Dominion football team where they played at their best, on the brink of a remarkable upset, and also at their worst, losing their 17-point advantage in the fourth quarter. In a game where two touchdowns favored the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, they overcame adversity and escaped Norfolk with a 27-24 victory over the Monarchs. 

Coming into Saturday, Old Dominion was 1-1 (1-0 Sun Belt) after an impressive offensive performance in their victory last weekend against Louisiana. Wake Forest strolled into S.B. Ballard with a 2-0 record after scoring decisive victories over Elon and Vanderbilt. The Demon Deacons were 15-2 against non-conference opponents in recent years and have been one of the top-tier programs in the ACC as of late. 

Junior wide receiver Javon Harvey makes the Wake defender miss and takes it up-field. (Nicholas Clark )

It was a defensive showdown on both sides, with neither team able to put together any sustainable drives. The defense from ODU in the first half was playing very well and contained the explosive Demon Deacon offense.  After a scoreless first quarter, ODU regained possession early in the second and found offensive success. On a 2nd and 17, junior quarterback Grant Wilson dropped back in the pocket and found junior wide receiver Javon Harvey deep down the middle of the field for a 68-yard touchdown, putting the Monarchs ahead 7-0. 

On the next ODU possession, they found some success running the ball. Freshman running back Devin Roche had a 13-yard carry that got the ball down into Wake territory. Wilson would strike two more passes to his wide receivers Reymello Murphy and Kelby Williams. Just outside of the red zone, Wilson scrambled left and tried to hit Williams with the pass, but it bounced off of him and into the hands of a Wake defender, who then returned it 56 yards to the ODU 29-yard line. 

With a chance to tie the game at seven, the Demon Deacons succumbed to their first mistake of the afternoon. 

On a first and goal from the three-yard line, the sophomore quarterback for Wake Forest, Mitch Griffiths, tried to scramble away from ongoing pressure but fumbled the ball and came into possession of junior cornerback LaMareon James, who then returned it 80 yards to the house for the scoop n’ score, putting ODU up 14-0. Wake Forest was able to establish a drive that got deep into Monarch territory, but with a personal foul penalty and effort from the ODU defense, Wake was forced to punt it away. 

Wilson found Harvey again for a 41-yard strike down the right side to switch ends of the field. From there, Wilson scrambled down the middle for 12 yards, and junior running back Keshawn Wicks tallied nine yards on the second down play. On the 3rd and 12, Wilson would be sacked for a loss of six yards that resulted in a 49-yard field goal made by sophomore kicker Ethan Sanchez, extending the Monarch advantage to 17-0. 

Before going into the half, Old Dominion had another opportunity to score points. Roche made an 18-yard run to midfield after the sack on his quarterback the play before. Eventually, Wilson found junior wide receiver Isaiah Paige for 22 yards down the middle. The ensuing 45-yard kick was no good from Sanchez and the score remained 17-0 going into the half. 

Junior cornerback LaMareon James returns the interception down the field and finds a lane for the touchdown. (Nicholas Clark )

Out of the break, Wake Forest did not waste any time getting back into the game and establishing their first scoring drive of the day. Griffiths led his squad down the field and capped off an eight-play, 75-yard drive with a 27-yard touchdown pass to his receiver, Taylor Morin. Old Dominion was held to a three-and-out on the ensuing drive. As Wake trotted back onto the field, they built off their momentum and got to midfield. On a 3rd and 10, the ODU defense brought the blitz and got a hit on Griffiths as he hurled a poorly thrown ball straight to James for the interception, who returned it 66 yards to the house for his second touchdown of the afternoon. 

Despite the Monarchs leading 24-7, the Demon Deacon offense wasn’t phased. On their next two drives in the third quarter, Wake tallied two more field goals from Matthew Dennis, making it 24-13 with the Monarchs 15 minutes away from another ACC upset at home. ODU had the ball to begin the fourth, but their drive would stall out after Wilson was sacked again on the 3rd down. Wake Forest continued to slice away at the ODU advantage as they picked up the pace, went no-huddle down the field, and converted passes. It was 1st and 10 from midfield where Griffiths found Taylor again down the middle for a 48-yard touchdown pass, making it 24-20 ODU with under ten minutes to play.

The Old Dominion offense was held in check in the second half with 23 yards after the 277 yards gained throughout the first half. It was quite the opposite for Wake though, as they only accounted for 127 yards in the first half, but bounced back and hung 282 yards in the second half. Wilson tried to spark some life in his offense, but on 3rd down and 11, he was strip-sacked, and Wake Forest regained possession inside the Monarchs’ ten-yard line. From there, Griffiths looked right and found his target, Jahmal Banks, for the 4-yard touchdown pass to put the Demon Deacons ahead 27-24. 

Head coach Ricky Rahne believed that his defense brought their work caps on but was eventually worn down by the amount they were on the field in the second half. 

“I thought the defense played well. Our coaches had a great game plan and executed it well,” Rahne stated. “But our players were on the field so much. I think they got a little gassed.”

ODU Students showed out and supported their football team against Wake Forest. (Nicholas Clark )

With over six minutes to play, the ODU offense couldn’t gain a first down and was forced to punt it away. Although the Wake offense was lights out throughout the second half, Old Dominion was able to get the ball back with two minutes left to play. The final drive for the Monarchs got nowhere as they failed to convert the first down on four attempts. Wake Forest battled back from 17 down and scored the comeback victory over ODU 27-24 to remain undefeated on the season. Meanwhile, Old Dominion fell to 1-2 (1-0 Sun Belt) on the year. 

Wilson finished the day throwing 11-26 for 233 yards, along with a touchdown and interception. Roche finished the afternoon rushing for a career-high 86 yards on 11 carries. Wicks finished with 36 yards on 11 carries also. Harvey had a career day, hauling in three receptions for 166 yards and a touchdown. LaMareon was the highlight of the day for Old Dominion, bringing the roar out of S.B. Ballard with his two-touchdown performance. He became the seventh FBS player to return a fumble and interception in the same game for a score—the last occurrence of this was in 2017. 

After the game, Rahne credited Wake Forest for their effort but felt that his team left a lot of football out there on the field. 

“We let it slip through our fingers, and they crashed it and took it. That was the difference in the game. They went out and won the game,” Rahne said. “When we go back and watch the tape we’re going to see some missed opportunities for us. There were opportunities that we would have liked to have taken advantage of.” 

Next up for Old Dominion is Homecoming Week, when they welcome Texas A&M University-Commerce on Saturday, Sept. 23. Kickoff is slated for 3:30 p.m. 

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About the Contributors
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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