LYNCHBURG (WAVY) – It’s hard to imagine a worse start to the season for coach Bobby Wilder and his Old Dominion University football team.
A team hungry to erase what was last year’s losing season, determined to compete for a Conference USA championship, found itself on the wrong end of a 52-10 blowout at Liberty University on Saturday.
“Confidence is shook right now in everybody,” said Wilder. His Monarchs (0-1) were competitive through the first two and a half quarters of football, but missed out on too many scoring opportunities.
Sophomore kicker Nick Rice missed on field goal attempts of 40 and 38 yards at the end of the second quarter. Both makes would have given ODU a halftime lead. Instead it went into the locker room trailing 14-10.
Jonathan Duhart couldn’t haul in what would have been a game-tying touchdown grab in the third quarter, and the Flames (1-0) turned on the jets and ran away with it afterward.
Liberty out-gained ODU in rushing yards 249 to 145. Sophomore quarterback Steven Williams was the team’s leading rusher with just 49 yards. While Williams made a few plays, he seemed average at best, and finished the night with only 132 yards passing and no touchdowns.
The Monarchs are now looking for answers with their home and conference opener against Florida International looming. “That’s my job as the head coach to get that back, to get them to understand that what we’re doing is the right thing,” said Wilder.
While certainly discouraged, his team did not seem defeated. “I still believe we’re a good football team,” said senior defensive end Oshane Ximines.
“I feel like we’re going to come out next week and we’re going to bounce back. We’re going to be the football team I know we can be. It’s not a pill I’m going to swallow, because I know we’re not a bad football team, and I know we’re better than this.”