It was a really wet, rainy and ugly day in Norfolk, Virginia. For a pair of schools where the offensive philosophies are more pass-friendly, that's not favorable for either side.
Coming into the game, nobody heard that Reggie Bell wouldn't be starting for the third time this season. It was just assumed by everybody, especially since he was a first stringer on the two-deep at the beginning of the week. And of course, everybody was wrong when Brogan Roback made his first start of the season.
He did alright, but the offense, collectively, was a disappointment.
The first five offensive drives by the Eagles ended with punts. The sixth drive ended with Roback being sacked, losing the ball with a fumble that was recovered by one of the defensive players on the Old Dominion unit. Up until that point, Roback was 5-for-11 for 48 yards. Things didn't really "click" for Roback or the rest of the offense the rest of the day. Roback only completed four more passes after that, and was replaced by LSU transfer Rob Bolden late in the third quarter. Together, the two completed 12 of their 24 attempted passes for 72 yards. They also combined for 18 rushes for 21 yards.
Needless to say, even though they had to play in crappy conditions where throwing a wet ball isn't, as the experts would say, "easy", this quarterback situation is more of a mess than most of us begin to realize.
Oddly enough, the defense played really well.
Outside of one long, 55-yard touchdown run by Ray Lawry put the Monarchs on the board early in the first quarter was the low point for the Eagles defense. There have been a ton of low points for EMU defenses over the years, too.
Taylor Heinicke, who had well over 500 passing passing yards coming into this game, had 17 completions for 187 yards, but was unable to put up any points. The Monarchs, led by Gerard Johnson (19 carries for 85 yards), had 37 carries for 180 yards, but no other scores outside of the long run by Lawry.
The difference: special teams.
ODU kicker Ricky Seger hit a field goal late in the third quarter to take a 10-3 lead. Antonio Vaughn, one of the team's top receivers and return men, returned a punt for 46 yards to the house, getting the lead up to 17-3. If you couldn't tell from the title, that would end up being the final score.
For what everybody predicted, this was a fairly low-scoring game, and the Eagles were never really "out of it" until time was against them. But that's a moral victory, and moral victories don't matter in the grand scheme of things.