Donovan Rose talked all week about what a difficult opponent startup regional rival Old Dominion. He made some strong statements about avoiding a letdown.
Then Hampton went and had a letdown. A big one.
Old Dominion used a gritty performance by Thomas DeMarco (who had two rushing touchdowns in a 21-point offensive explosion in the first quarter), and some savvy special teams play to defeat Hampton 28-14.
The 5-3 Monarchs, in just their second year of football, blocked two punts in the first half — none more devastating than the one Colby Goodwyn recovered in the end zone less than a minute after DeMarco scored the first time.
“It was frustrating,” Hampton punter Jordan Stovall said. “The first time it happens, you think to yourself, ‘We can correct this.’ After the second and third time? Then it’s just getting old.”
Hampton — which hadn’t allowed a blocked punt since 2004 — was almost instantly down by two touchdowns, and never recovered.
“I’ve never been a part of a game with this many mishaps on special teams,” said Hampton coach Donovan Rose. “That was the key. That broke us.”
Hampton held Old Dominion scoreless after the break, but — once again — could nothing going offensively.
Quarterback David Legree was briefly benched in the third quarter, and backup Herb Bynes — who fans will remember set the program’s single-season passing record as a sophomore — proceeded to go three-and-out. After another rash of incompletions, the staff reinserted Legree, who eventually finished 14-for-32 for 141 yards and two interceptions.
“(Bynes) has done some things for us in the past,” Rose said afterward. “I wanted him to get an opportunity. He got in, (but) nothing really changed. I thought we could’ve had more protection for him.”
DeMarco completed 21 of 33 passes for 182 yards and another passing score for Old Dominion. Prentice Gill had a team-high seven catches and 67 receiving yards.
Meanwhile, a Hampton offense that came in having scored a total of 14 points in its last two games, and was averaging only 18 points per game this season, lived down to those expectations — tossing itself out of conference contention.
That the Pirates also lost a battle which will likely directly impact local recruiting was just salt in the wound.
“The result of this game will be interpreted in ways that won’t make MEAC fans happy,” said columnist Bob Molinaro of The Virginian-Pilot. “The Pirates, in serious contention for the conference title, lost to a second-year program that doesn’t begin play in the CAA until next fall. Any way you look at it, this is not a good advertisement for the MEAC.”