C-USA Game of the Week Recap: Blue Raiders defeat Monarchs


Whoever said “slow and steady wins the race” was not a football fan. Old Dominion, plagued by turnovers and a 24-point first half deficit, fell to Middle Tennessee 41-28 in the Monarch’s Conference USA home debut.

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Headed into the game, confidence and excitement was at an all-time high for ODU. Fresh off a win against the defending conference champion, the Monarchs were set to play MTSU in front of a raucous, sellout crowd at S.B. Ballard Stadium, as well as a national television audience on Fox Sports. Despite a uniform dispute with the Blue Raiders, the “white out” was a huge success, complete with a nifty card stunt:

But then the two teams took the field, and Monarch quarterback Taylor Heinicke threw an interception on his first pass. MTSU rushed out to a 24-0 lead in the second quarter, and soon all the pregame excitement turned into disappointment.

ODU tried to mount a comeback in the second half, but the hole was already too deep, especially with the way Austin Grammer played for the Blue Raiders. Grammer completed 25 of 30 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for 67 yards and two more touchdowns. As a team, MTSU racked up 539 yards of total offense, and converted 9 of 14 third down opportunities. The Blue Raider rushing attack ran for 280 yards, led by Jordan Parker, who had 158 yards on 31 carries.

For the Monarchs, Heinicke played a game he would probably like to forget. He threw for 362 yards and four touchdowns, but also threw three interceptions and was sacked six times. ODU only managed 41 rushing yards as a team, and simply could not build any momentum, thanks in part to four turnovers forced by MTSU. Give the Blue Raiders credit for shutting down the Monarch run game and disrupting its passing attack.

Next up for MTSU will be a showdown against conference cellar-dweller Southern Miss in Murfreesboro next Saturday, in a game that looks likely for the Blue Raiders to pick up yet another conference win. Things don’t get any easier for ODU, as the Monarchs host conference favorite Marshall next Saturday.