Ricky Segers had only kicked two field goals in his career before today, missing one and making one. He'll remember number three for the rest of his life.
Segers nailed a 25-yarder as time expired as the Old Dominion Monarchs pulled off a historic victory, defeating the defending conference champion Rice Owls 45-42 in their first-ever Conference USA game.
And it wasn't a bad C-USA debut, either, for Taylor Heinicke. Remember how yesterday I pointed out that his numbers were a little lower than they usually were in recent years against FCS competition? He took care of that today: 27-43, 430 yards, and five touchdowns—with one score on the ground. (Keep in mind that he had some shoulder issues during the week that held him out of practice.)
This one didn't come easy for the Monarchs at all. They entered the fourth quarter with a 42-28 lead and saw it disappear on a couple of touchdown runs by Darik Dillard to tie it up with 1:05 left. But it didn't matter. Heinicke drew a horse collar tackle on the first play of the ensuing drive, then nailed Zach Pascal with a 45-yard bomb on 2nd and 10 at the ODU 41 to put the Monarchs well within field goal range and set up Segers' heroics.
It was a good, old-fashioned slugfest on a hot and humid day in Houston as teams combined for 87 points and 1,056 yards of offense with no turnovers. And while the Monarchs came out on the right side of the scoreline, they'll look back at the fact that the Owls throttled them for 284 rushing yards, mainly by Jowan Davis (24 carries, 150 yards) and Dillard (14 for 70, three scores).
That will come later, along with preparing for Middle Tennessee this Friday in a nationally televised game back home in Norfolk. Right now, they're celebrating a big win, one that has sent a message all throughout the conference. The new kids on the block might just be a contender in year one of their Conference USA journey.