Norfolk, VA (WWBT)- The Old Dominion football program garnered its first Top 10 victory with a 23-20 Oyster Bowl win over the James Madison Dukes.
The win improves ODU to 7-2 overall and 4-2 in its inaugural CAA season, while James Madison, coming off a bye week, falls to 6-2 and 3-2 in the league race.
Old Dominion quarterback Taylor Heinicke was named the Oyster Bowl's "Most Outstanding Player" earning the Melvin Blassingham Trophy, named after the Shriner Potentate who created the Oyster Bowl back in 1946. Heinicke finished the game with 236 yards completing 22 of his 35 passes with a pair of touchdowns. The Atlanta, Georgia native was also the Monarchs' leading rusher with 11 carries for 50 yards.
Old Dominion wasted no time scoring on its opening drive for the third time this season as Pinkard collected a 17-yard pass from Heinicke on the first of his two touchdowns of the afternoon.
James Madison drove to as close as the ODU 10 on their first drive, but the Monarchs defense would not break. A mix of the Monarch defenders get into the mix holding the Dukes from posting a touchdown including J.J. Williams, Keenan Terry, Craig Wilkins, Dominique Guinn Bailey, and Fred Credle, resulting in the Dukes having to go to the field goal unit and kick a 32-yard attempt by Cameron Starke.
The Dukes then closed the quarter with a Dae'Quan Scott touchdown to go ahead 10-7.
Pinkard put the Monarchs ahead again on his second touchdown reception of the game. The Duke defense forced Heinicke to scramble deep into the backfield, looking to get rid of the ball and prevent ODU from a massive amount of loss of yardage, Heinicke spotted Pinkard in the end zone. The ball sailed through the air where Pinkard jumped right at the back line amid two JMU defenders to complete the 23-touchdown pass and give ODU a 14-10 advantage with 12:57.
Scott punched in the ball on the following drive for his second score of the day, giving JMU a 17-14 lead, one which they would hold until second half action.
Right before the half, James Madison got themselves deep into ODU territory. At third and one at the Monarch two, Markell Wilkins and Ronnie Cameron came up big pushing back Scott for a loss of four yards and forcing out the Duke field goal unit again. A 23-yard field attempt by Starke gave increased the JMU lead to 20-14.
With time left, the Monarchs had one last shot at cutting into the James Madison lead before the intermission. As time expired, Jarod Brown's 42-yard field goal was blocked by JMU's Teveion Cuffee.
Old Dominion reclaimed the lead thanks to a trio of field goals by Brown and holding the JMU offense scoreless in second half play.
Six minutes into the third quarter, Brown's 19-yard field goal sailed through the uprights cutting the Monarch deficit 20-17 with 9:45 and then with just over two minutes remaining in the quarter, Brown had a 40-yard attempt that tied the game at 20-20. Then with 12:14 left in the game, the Monarch kicker connected on his third straight field goal, this time from 25-yards out, to give Old Dominion a 23-20 edge.
Twice, the Dukes attempted field goals to tie the game but were unsuccessful. With 8:55 remaining, James Madison looked to tie the game on a 51-yard field goal attempt by Starke. The attempt, which was Starke's longest of the season, was short. Then on the last play of the game, Starke's 47-yarder was blocked by Craig Wilkins to seal the victory.
Jace Edwards passed for 239 yards for James Madison, with Brian Barlow making eight catches for 79 yards in the loss. Scott led the Dukes' run game with 77 yards and his two touchdowns. James Madison, who came into Saturday's as the CAA's leading rushing offense at 242.7 yards per game and 5.0 yards per play, was held to 103 yards and 2.7 yards per carry.