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Old Dominion 48, UMass 33

Minutemen lose wild one to Monarchs

By David R. Squires
Globe Correspondent / October 2, 2011

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NORFOLK, Va. - UMass and Old Dominion slugged it out like two fatigued heavyweight fighters last night. The result was a 48-33 technical knockout for the Monarchs before 19,818 at Ballard Stadium.

Old Dominion started fast, forging a 25-0 lead in the second quarter.

UMass came back to grab a 26-25 lead on an 8-yard run by Jonathan Hernandez in the third quarter.

Old Dominion followed with 23 straight points for a 48-26 lead with a little more than three minutes to play.

The key play came when Old Dominion regained the lead, 27-26, when Jakwail Bailey blocked a UMass punt in the end zone for a safety with 2:39 left in the third quarter. After that, UMass played as if it had the wind knocked from its sails.

“It wasn’t a good game for us,’’ said UMass coach Kevin Morris. “This wasn’t a good night for UMass football. They executed well, and we didn’t execute, and they took advantage of it.

“Then we got focused, and our players were able to execute the plays we called. But we made too many mistakes and there were too many plays that we didn’t make. We’re disappointed, both individually and collectively.’’

UMass fell to 2-2 overall, 1-1 in the Colonial Athletic Association. Old Dominion improved to 4-1 and 1-1.

Monarchs coach Bobby Wilder said afterward that he knew his team’s 25-0 lead wasn’t safe.

“I told our kids to be ready to play 60 minutes of football,’’ he said.

Still, what unfolded was unlike anything that Wilder and his assistants had envisioned.

“When I came off the field I asked my staff if they’d ever been part of a game like this,’’ Wilder said. “And the answer was, ‘No.’ All 10 of us. The way we were up 25, then down, 26-25, then the way we took the lead on a blocked punt. That was something to see in a game. That, to me, was the key moment. We got the momentum back.’’

Each team played most of the second half with backup quarterbacks. UMass’s Kellen Pagel went out in the third quarter with an undisclosed injury. Old Dominion’s Thomas DeMarco suffered a leg injury and did not come out of the locker room after halftime.

Monarchs freshman Taylor Heinicke threw for two fourth-quarter touchdowns to keep the Minutemen at bay. For UMass, freshman Brandon Hill replaced Pagel, and completed 7 of 10 passes for 99 yards with one touchdown. Pagel completed 25 of 40 throws for 245 yards with three TDs and two INTs.

Hernandez carried 25 times for 121 yards for UMass.

“We came out kind of slow in the first half and we gave them 25 points,’’ Hernandez said. “Then our offense picked up and our defense played better. Then we started getting our own big plays. I think the no-huddle offense started wearing them down in the second half.’’

DeMarco finished with 219 passing yards, completing 14 of 24 throws with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Heinicke went 8 for 11 for 119 yards with a TD.

After trailing, 25-12, at halftime, the Minutemen took the second-half kickoff and marched 74 yards, as Pagel connected with Jesse Julmiste on a slant for a 20-yard touchdown. UMass was suddenly within a score at 25-19.

On the Minutemen’s next possession, Julian Talley drew a pass-interference call at the Monarchs’ 8-yard line, and Hernandez took it in from there for a 26-25 UMass lead with 5:30 left in the third quarter. The 13-play drive covered 66 yards.

But the Minutemen’s next drive went nowhere, leading to a punt, and the game-changing safety.