The Old Dominion Monarchs defeated the FIU Panthers on Saturday, 38-35. The Monarchs were led by Ray Lawry's 142 yards and two touchdowns in the homecoming victory. Taylor Heinicke continued his stellar senior campaign with 20 completions for 315 yards and two scores.
FIU opened up the scoring with a 2-yard Alex McGough keeper after a long, dragging drive that ate up over eight minutes in the first quarter. McGough and Anthon Samuel ran all over the ODU defensive line en route to the first score and only needed one pass to take a 7-0 lead with 4:10 left in the first.
The Monarchs quickly answered the deficit with two straight scoring drives. Taylor Heinicke rushed in from one yard out for the first and handed it off to Ray Lawry for a 34-yard run that saw him score untouched. With the Panthers beginning to make some moves downfield with a dedication to the read option, ODU toughened up on defense and halted any scoring threats.
Starting from the one-yard line, Heinicke and the Monarchs seemed set on moving themselves out of dangerous territory at a slower pace. It wasn't until the senior quarterback found Antonio Vaughan for a 74-yard touchdown strike that put ODU up 21-7 with under two minutes left in the half. FIU would move to a hurry-up offensive attack for the remainder of the first half and secure an Austin Taylor 38-yard field goal to close the gap, 21-10.
It must be noted that prior to the beginning of the second half, FIU head coach Ron Turner was referred to as a "crafty, veteran coach" by the ASN broadcasters. Do with that quote what you will.
FIU's first scoring play of the second half occurred on a painfully broken play that saw Alex McGough fumble the shotgun snap. After kicking the ball back five yards, McGough picked up the football and thanks to some clutch offensive line work, found Napoleon Maxwell along the sideline for a 57-yard touchdown.
Thanks to a spectacular punt return by Richard Leonard, FIU had great field position to begin their next drive. Anthon Samuel carried the Panthers deep into the red zone and Alex McGough found tight end Jonnu Smith for a 7-yard touchdown to put FIU up 24-21 with 5:35 left in the third quarter.
On the very next series for ODU, Ray Lawry fumbled the ball and it was recovered by Leonard for FIU's 26th takeaway of the year. A few wasted plays led to another Taylor field goal to put the Panthers ahead 27-21 with just over three minutes left in the third quarter.
The Monarchs would not lay down and after taking advantage of a missed interception opportunity by Leonard, ODU drove down the field for another score. Even with a flag for pass interference, Heinicke found Zach Pascal in the back of the endzone for an absolutely incredible touchdown grab near the end of the third quarter. 28-27 ODU, :58 3Q
Anthon Samuel would regain the lead for the Panthers on a 26-yard touchdown run and to complete the 8-point swing, Clinton Taylor converted on the jet sweep to put FIU ahead 35-28. The Monarchs matched with a 9 play scoring drive, ending with a 2-yard Lawry run to tie the score at 35.
With the Panthers playing for overtime, Alex McGough - who finished with 8 completions for 132 yards and two touchdowns - made a tremendously true freshman mistake and had his flip to Samuel tipped and intercepted at the FIU 26-yard line with 23 seconds left in the game. The Monarchs wouldn't relinquish the opportunity and converted a 23-yard field goal for the 38-35 homecoming victory.
The Monarchs move to 4-6 and 2-4 in the conference. With the victory, ODU is still eligible for a bowl game and will need to win their next two to complete the task. FIU falls to 3-7 on the year and sees that same bowl eligibility slip away for the second time in Ron Turner's two-year stint as head coach.