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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

Monarchs Struggle and Escape Texas A&M University-Commerce in 10-9 Victory

Sophomore WR Kelby Williams caught a career-high eight passes for 197 yards
Nicholas Clark
Junior LB Jason Henderson grabs ahold of the Lions ball carrier for a tackle-for-loss.

A win is a win. ODU took the homecoming game against the Texas A&M Commerce Lions by a score of 10-9 as the torrential rain held off for an afternoon of football. 

The Monarchs came into this contest at 1-2 (1-0 Sun Belt) coming off a loss against Wake Forest last weekend. The Lions of TAMU-Commerce conversely came into this contest at 0-2 with losses against UC Davis and Sacramento State University. TAMU-Commerce’s program is very young, with 2023 being their second year as a member in FCS Division I football. Their matchup against ODU was the first FBS opponent for the Lions. 

After winning the toss, ODU deferred possession to the second half of play. The defense came out to play, which would be a mainstay of this game, as they forced a three and out on the Lions first possession. Unfortunately, the Monarchs were not able to play complimentary football — the first ODU drive resulted in a three and out, with quarterback junior Grant Wilson being sacked twice. 

During the first quarter, the Monarch offense and special teams struggled. Special teams gave way to a fumble on a punt return, which was recovered by the Lions, giving them good field position around the 50 yard line. Wilson threw three interceptions.

Sophomore WR Reymello Murphy gets over his defender for the snag. (Nicholas Clark )

The Monarch defense were able to keep their side in the contest, preventing the Lions from generating virtually any meaningful offensive production during the first 15 minutes of play. The pass rush did a quality job in pressuring and putting the TAMU-Commerce QB in some uncomfortable situations, tallying numerous blindside hits of the QB. The secondary also did a quality job in wrapping up open field tackles, especially in the flat.. 

The misfortune of the Monarchs on the offensive side of the ball continued in the second quarter. The Lions were able to gain another turnover off an interception in the red zone and run it back to midfield early in quarter two. 

With this, head coach Ricky Rahne and his crew decided to make a change at man under center as redshirt sophomore Jack Shields came in to relieve Wilson. Shields’ first two drives on the day were not too bad in terms of his performance. Unfortunately in both cases, ODU was plagued by penalties.A ball that ODUmarched down to the 9 yard line didn’t make it to the endzone, as Shields attempted to scrabble after a pocket collapse and was tackled by the sideline with 2:54 remaining until half. 

Following this turnover on downs, TAMU-Commerce had the final possession before half. This possession would result in an initial 60 yard field goal, which was missed. This turned into a 45 yard field goal because of penalties, but theLions were still not able to connect on the second attempt.At halftime, the score would be tied at goose eggs 0-0. 

The Monarchs got the ball first in the second half and the offense continued to struggle. Fortunately, more interceptions were not thrown —The offense simply struggled to execute. The Monarch defense remained as strong as it’d been in the first half.

However, the ODU defense could only do so much. TAMU-Commerce put points on the board first via a field goal with 3:48 remaining in the third quarter. In a shining moment for the offense, ODU responded quickly. Shields was able to find redshirt sophomore Dominic Dutton on a go route, making the score 7-3 with 2:12 left remaining in the third. This was Shield’s first career TD thrown. 

With this, the momentum shifted in ODU’s favor moving into the fourth quarter.. Redshirt sophomore linebacker Wayne Matthews III was able to intercept the Lions QB, forcing a fumble which was recovered by the Monarchs. With this, ODU’s offense was able to carry the momentum down the field to the Lions 10 yard line before giving way to a fumble of their own and turning the ball over. 

The Monarchs tallied a FG by Ethan Sanchez, making the score 10-3 with 6:17 remaining in the game. The seven point lead was much needed,as a costly pass interference call on the Monarchs put the Lions on the two yard line with 0:28 remaining in the contest. The Lions then scored the touchdown on a pass play. 

Junior DT Devin Brandt-Epps shares a moment with ODU students after their victory over Commerce. (Nicholas Clark)

This brought the score to 10-9 and put just about all ODU fans on the edge of their seats as they remembered the harsh sting of a comeback from last week’s game against Wake Forest. TAMU-Commerce decided to go for the win and try for the two point conversion. 

The Monarch defense came up huge at the end of the day as CB Lamareon James, with his third interception in two games, snagged a pass intended for a receiver in the back corner of the endzone. Since the Lions had scored previous to the failed two point try, they attempted an onside kick to no avail. The Monarchs kept the ball to end the game and  stepped away with a win.

The Monarch defense performed astoundingly, tallying three players with 10+ tackles. LB Jason Henderson had 17, safety Shawn Ashbury II tallied 15, and safety Terry Jones tallied ten on the day. As a team, the Monarchs had three sacks and a more impressive 11 tackles for a loss, tallying a combined loss of 31 yards. 

Despite little production in terms of points, on paper the Monarchs receiving core had a pretty good performance on the day. Leading the charge was sophomore wideout Kelby Williams, who tallied 176 yards on eight receptions. This is Williams’ first game with 100+ receiving yards and tallies as the seventh most yards by a receiver in program history. Dutton also performed well, tallying two receptions for 54 yards, including the only TD on the day. Sophomore Reymello Murphy also tallied an explosive play,having three catches for 44 yards —his longest a 41 yard bomb. 

“Right now on the offensive side, we are not going out and performing. Over the last eight quarters, we’ve played really well on the defensive side of the ball,” Rahne stated when asked about the optimism he has for both sides of the ball. “There’s an abundance of things we need to correct, but we won the game. We gotta come back and play better.”

Following this three-week home stretch that ended with homecoming, the Monarchs look ahead to Sun Belt play. They will spend the next two weeks on the road at Marshall (Sept. 30) and Southern Miss (Oct. 7) before returning back to the 757 with Appalachian State on Oct. 21. Kickoff next weekend against The Herd is at 3:30 p.m. 

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About the Contributors
Art Neal
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].
Nicholas Clark
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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