Old Dominion beats Hens despite late-game drive
Published: Sunday, October 28, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 10:10
NORFOLK, Va. - With his eye nearly swollen shut as a result of a hit he took in the second half, sophomore quarterback Trent Hurley sacrificed his entire body Saturday. Hurley, who was kept out of last week’s game with an injury to his foot, was constantly pressured and hit by the Old Dominion defense as Delaware fell to the Monarchs, 31-26, at Foreman Field.
“For this kid to be playing, it’s amazing,” head coach K.C. Keeler said. “You talk about a tough kid, boy he is as tough as it comes.”
After Delaware’s first drive ended in a punt, Old Dominion began its second drive from the Monarchs’ 19-yard line. Quarterback Taylor Heinicke started the drive with a long pass to wide receiver Nick Mayers, who finished the game with 11 catches for 131 yards. Heinicke connected with Mayers again on third down when senior safety Tim Breaker forced a fumble. Delaware took advantage of the turnover and put together the first scoring drive of the game.
On first and 10 from the 13-yard line Hurley took the snap, ran to his right and was hit by several Old Dominion defenders, who forced his helmet off. He was slow to get up and was forced to leave the game for one play due to a new NCAA rule that makes a player sit out after his helmet comes off.
Senior quarterback Tim Donnelly came in for Hurley and hit sophomore wide receiver Michael Johnson for a 9-yard touchdown. Johnson, who finished the game with five catches for 36 yards and the first score, made a spectacular one-handed catch to give the Hens a 7-0 lead.
The touchdown capped off a six-play, 75-yard drive by the Hens. Junior running back Andrew Pierce accounted for 59 yards on the drive and showed no signs of a hamstring injury that has plagued him for the past several weeks.
The Monarchs answered with an 11-play, 80-yard drive of their own that was capped off by a 22-yard run by Heinicke. Senior cornerback Ricky Tunstall said the Hens prepared for Old Dominion to attack them with the deep ball.
"They didn't really throw the deep ball a lot, which I was surprised,” he said.
Hurley returned to the Delaware huddle for their next possession and led them on another scoring drive. As the rain began to fall on third and 4 from the Old Dominion 16-yard line, Hurley dropped back and connected with junior wide receiver Michael Milburn for a touchdown, giving the Hens a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter.
However, every time Delaware put together a scoring drive, Old Dominion responded with one. Heinicke led the Monarchs on a 13-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by the quarterback.
“I thought we did enough good things that we could come away with a win, but we did enough bad things in terms of execution that we gave a very good team some opportunities,” Keeler said.
Keeler said the touchdown came as a result of shifting senior linebacker Paul Worrilow inside because he was physically limited by a knee injury. It was unclear if Worrilow would be ready to play after he missed last week’s game against New Hampshire, but Keeler credited Worrilow’s effort to get ready to play against Old Dominion.
Keeler said the linebacker slept with a hyperbaric chamber around his leg to help his knee heal and spent countless hours in the film room to be mentally prepared. Worrilow said he felt limited physically at times, especially when making open field tackles, but said he was surprised how good his knee felt.
Delaware was forced to punt on their next possession but senior punter Rauley Zaragoza pinned the Monarchs on their own 5-yard line and the Delaware defense took advantage.
On second and 7, Heinicke dropped back, looked to his right and threw the ball to his receiver running down the sideline, but Tunstall was matching the receiver step for step and intercepted the pass. The turnover gave the Hens good field possession with seven minutes left in the first half.
After having a first and 10 from the 12-yard line the Hens were unable to find the end zone, and junior kicker Sean Baner gave Delaware the lead once again with a 27-yard field goal.
With a little over three minutes left in the first half it appeared as if Delaware was going to head into the locker room with the lead, but once again Old Dominion put together a long scoring drive that ended with a Heinicke touchdown run. The drive covered 78 yards in 11 plays and gave the Monarchs a 21-17 lead at halftime.
As rain dumped on Foreman Field it became clear that the weather would be a factor. On the first play of the opening drive Pierce carried the ball to the left and slipped, injuring his knee in the process. He would not return for the rest of the game and finished with 75 yards on 12 carries.