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Middle Tennessee vs. Old Dominion final score: Blue Raiders too much for Monarchs, 41-28

The Monarchs' first ever Conference USA home game didn't go as planned.

Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps the fact that Taylor Heinicke threw an interception on his first pass of the night was a bad sign of what was in store.

Despite a few signs of life at various times throughout the night, it wasn't a good evening overall for the Old Dominion Monarchs as they fell to the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders 41-28.

As good as Heinicke looked against Rice six days prior, it wasn't exactly the case tonight: despite 29 for 44 passing, 362 yards and four touchdowns, he threw three interceptions while being sacked six times.

Another key stat: the Blue Raiders' 9 for 14 night on third downs. The Monarchs' defense simply couldn't get off the field as they allowed the visitors to move the ball basically at will. Middle Tennessee gashed the Old Dominion "D" with 541 yards of offense, 282 of those on the ground and 158 of those courtesy of Jordan Parker (on 32 carries). Meanwhile, on the other side, the Monarchs only managed 41 yards on the ground and couldn't sustain full momentum through the air across the entire game as Heinicke never really looked fully in command (which would explain his three picks).

While the Blue Raiders took a 24-7 lead into the locker room, the Monarchs took advantage of a fumble recovery with just under seven minutes left in the 3rd as Heinicke found Antonio Vaughan for a 20-yarder to make it 24-14. But Austin Grammer and his team needed less than two minutes to extend the lead back to 17 as they snatched the momentum right back. Heinicke found Vaughan again on the ensuing drive to make it 31-21 late in the 3rd, but after both teams exchanged punts, the Blue Raiders regained their 17-point cushion with 10:42 left.

Did the Monarchs have a comeback in them? Not tonight.

Despite a Marquez Little touchdown catch with 8:49 left in regulation to make it 38-28, MT put the nail in the coffin with a seven-play drive ending in a field goal to stretch it to 41-28 with 5:18 to go, followed by an interception of Heinicke with 3:45 left, the fourth turnover by the Monarchs.

Next up for Old Dominion: Marshall in a noon start next Saturday. Middle Tennessee hosts Southern Miss next week in Murfreesboro.