MIAMI, Fla. (ODUSports.com) - Old Dominion's offense has struggled much of the season but got untracked early on, and then got a huge second-half boost from the defense, as the Monarchs claimed their first winning streak since 2018.
The Monarchs burst for 24 first-quarter points and rolled to 565 offensive yards to roll past FIU, 47-24, Saturday night at FIU Stadium in Miami.
ODU (3-6, 2-3 C-USA) broke a five-game losing streak last week with a 23-20 victory over Louisiana Tech. The Monarchs last won two in a row when they beat VMI and North Texas in November of 2018.
Their last FBS winning streak came in 2017, when they defeated Charlotte, FIU and Rice to end the season with a three-game winning streak.
Running backs Blake Watson and Elijah Davis both broke the 100-yard rushing mark and quarterback Hayden Wolff, a Florida native, completed 22 of 42 passes for 283 yards and two touchdowns.
Watson rushed a career-high 28 times for 158 yards and two touchdowns. It was Watson's fourth consecutive game with 100 yards or more. Davis, who has been slowed with injuries, rushed 10 times for 114 yards and a touchdown.
Tight end Zack Kuntz caught a career-hight tying nine passes for 102 yards.
ODU came into the game averaging 23 points per game but surpassed that number with 27 seconds left in the first quarter, when Watson capped a 49-yard drive with a 3-yard run to give the Monarchs a 24-7 lead.
ODU's defense came up big the rest of the game, holding FIU on downs after two turnovers, and coming up with a huge touchdown early in the fourth quarter.
Defensive end Deeve Harris, a redshirt freshman who transferred from Minnesota, intercepted a Max Bortchenslager pass on the first play of the fourth quarter. He then turned into a running back, twice breaking against the grain of Panthers to return the INT for a 33-yard touchdown.
Nick Rice's point after touchdown gave ODU a 37-17 lead and breathing room.
ODU scored quickly on its first drive, with Wolff, a Venice, Florida native, completing 3 of 4 passes for 58 yards on a 6-play drive. Wolff passed 20 yards to Kuntz to make it 7-0 four minutes into the first quarter.
Miami native Ryan Henry, a senior playing his first college football game in his hometown, forced a fumble on FIU's next possession. Rice, another Florida native, made it 10-0 when he kicked a career-long 50-yard field goal a minute later.
FIU trimmed the lead to 10-7 when Bortchenslager passed 43 yards for a touchdown with 8:22 left in the first quarter, in which an ODU defensive back fell down.
Davis then burst for a 61-yard TD to make it 17-7. ODU led 24-10 at the half.
The teams exchanged 63-yard TD passes in the third quarter. Wide receiver Darius Savedge, who had been sidelined with an injury, caught a Wolff pass for the ODU touchdown. Bortenschslager then passed 63 yards for Bryce Singleton to make it 30-17.
Harris then gave ODU breathing room with his interception.
The Monarchs host Florida Atlantic Saturday at 3:30 p.m. FAU (5-4, 4-2) lost at Marshall, 28-13, on Saturday.
By Harry Minium
For the first time since Hampton, ODU scores on its first possession of the game … Hayden Wolff hit Zack Kuntz for a 20-yard touchdown pass on the first drive … Nick Rice’s 50-yard first quarter field goal was a career long … Kris Caine recorded the first sack of his career in the first quarter … Elijah Davis’ 61-yard first quarter touchdown run was ODU’s longest play from scrimmage this season, and the longest run of Davis’ career … ODU’s 24 first quarter points ties the most in a quarter for the Monarchs this season … Elijah Davis ran for 103 yards in the first half … Hayden Wolff’s 63-yard touchdown pass to Darius Savedge is now the longest play of the year for ODU, surpassing Davis’ 61-yarder earlier in the game … The 63-yarder by Savedge was the first touchdown of his career and the longest catch in his ODU tenure … For the second time this season, ODU had two, 100-yard rushers … Blake Watson (158) and Elijah Davis (114) both went over 100 yards on the night … Deeve Harris’ pick 6 in the fourth quarter was ODU’s first interception returned for a touchdown since Justin Noye returned an INT 37 yards against VMI in 2018 … Davis had a career-high 114 yards rushing … Zack Kuntz tied his career-high with nine catches.