ODU football team rallies 17-0 first-half deficit but falls to UTEP, 28-21
Through Harry mini
EL PASO, Texas –Like a week ago against Buffalo, the Old Dominion football team made a furious comeback in the second half, then lost a heartbreak.
Lagging behind the UTEP, 17-0 with just 51 seconds left in the first half, the Monarchs came back in force to take a 21-20 lead at the end of the third quarter.
But then the UTEP made a comeback, passing 63 yards in seven minutes in the fourth quarter to claim a 28-21 victory in the US Conference opener for both teams.
UTEP took a 26-21 lead after Deion Hankins carried all three for the touchdown. The miners opted for the 2-point conversion and time-heavy quarterback Garvin Hardison found Justin Garrett on an assist to make it 28-21 with 6:59 to go.
ODU (1-4, 0-1 Conference USA) then drove his own 43 and in third place Dy’Vonne Inyang intercepted a pass from DJ Mack with 4:16 remaining.
ODU had two other properties.
The first started at 31, but four games later the ODU quarterback DJ Mack Jr. was pulled down while scrambling 36 and the ball flipped over downs with 3:15 left.
ODU’s defense, who generally played well, forced the UTEP to punt and ODU had the ball at its 5-yard line 1:23 to the left and no time-outs.
The Monarchs then scared the UTEP, making their way to UTEP 31, where they had a first try with 1:07 to go.
But on the fourth down, Mack passed to 6-foot-8 tight end Zack Zuntz in the right corner of the end zone, but knocked him down.
UTEP (4-1, 1-0), who have won more games now than any season since 2016, then ran out of time.
After a patchy performance in ODU’s first three games, Mack and ODU’s wide receivers generally performed well.
Mack completed 20 of 34 passes for 194 yards and one touchdown and ran for another. Penn State transfer Kuntz had eight career-high passes for 54 yards.
But ODU was passed, 333-282, and rushed for just 88 yards.
“He’s playing a lot better”, ODU head coach Ricky rahne Mack said. “The broads play better.
“There were still some open games that we have to do. But in general I think these guys play a lot better.”
Rahne credited the UTEP defense for stepping up efforts in the fourth quarter and excluding ODU.
ODU’s offense had generated just 81 offensive yards and followed the UTEP, 17-0 with 51 seconds left in the first half, when the Monarchs did what they did in the second half on the weekend. -end last against Buffalo – their attack managed to pull itself together.
ODU trailed the Bulls, 35-7, last weekend at halftime and had 27 points, one less than they needed to win.
ODU traveled 75 yards on five plays in just 40 seconds.
Mack scored the drive with a 28-yard run, then with 15 seconds remaining and no time-outs, threw a pass to Ali Jennings III that he caught on the goal line and started with 10 seconds remaining.
Rice’s point after the touchdown reduced the lead to 17-7 and gave the Monarchs some momentum before entering the locker room.
UTEP scored first in the second on a practice marked by a 51-yard pass from quarterback Gavin Hardison to remarkable wide receiver Jacob Cowing. But the defense held on and forced the miners to settle for a 40-yard field goal.
But ODU then took over. ODU then went on for 75 yards on a practice the Monarchs played in and did fourth and one on 33. Blake watson worn for two meters to keep the reader alive. Mack threw 21 yards at Zack Zuntz to set up the first and the goal, then scored on the three and ODU was down 20-14.
Then, after holding the Miners down, the Monarchs blocked their fourth punt of the season, this one by Isaiah Spencer and White CA recovered the ball and returned it 11 yards for the touchdown.
Rice then kicked the point after to give ODU their first lead of the game, 21-20, with 4:27 left in the third quarter.
“We talked all week about how we should score and score and that’s what we did,” Rahne said, adding that the special teams coordinator Kevin smith saw an opening to block the kick.
“Thanks to them for seeing it and fixing it,” he added of UTEP.
linebacker Jordan Young said the attitude in the locker room remains positive despite the loss.
“We know we did a lot of good things tonight,” he said. “It’s just us who are fighting.”
Rahne added: “We have to execute earlier, but we have to execute and believe from the start.”
ODU will next play Marshall on Saturday at 2 p.m. in a game that will be televised by the CBS Sports Network on Facebook. Marshall (2-3, 0-1) lost to Middle Tennessee, 34-28.
The herd has lost three in a row.
“It’s a proud program,” Rahne said of the Thundering Herd. “I know the coaching staff and they know how to right the ship.
“We’re going to plan it and execute it and go get that victory.”
REMARKS: The ODU captains were Kuntz, Harrell blackmon and Darius savage … This is the third time ODU has played in El Paso. ODU lost in 2014, 42-35, and won in 2016, 31-21… ODU hosted UTEP in 2015 and also won by a score of 31-21… Jason henderson and Devin Brandt-Epps started their first career games as linebacker and defensive line, respectively … Steven williams started his first career game on the defensive end of the ball… Ali Jennings ‘touchdown in the first half was the third of his career and his first as a monarch… Jennings’ touchdown was the first this season by a receiver wide… Mack rushed for his team- leading the sixth touchdown of the year… The blocked punt returned for a touchdown was the first of White’s career… In his first career start, Jason henderson had a high of 10 tackles.