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DURHAM, N.C. – Old Dominion University scored 24 unanswered points in the opening 20 minutes, then held off a charge by North Carolina Central University for a 33-21 road victory inside O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium in Durham, N.C.

ODU (8-3) amassed 339 total yards before the break, including 281 through the air by junior quarterback Thomas DeMarco, and scored on all six first-half possessions.

DeMarco opened the scoring by finding sophomore Reid Evans streaking down the sideline for a 24-yard touchdown at 9:39 of the first quarter, ending an 8-play, 67-yard drive.

On the Monarchs’ next possession, sophomore running back Jamar Parham broke a few tackles at the line of scrimmage and raced 47 yards to the end zone, capping a 5-play, 83-yard drive at 4:41.

After a 33-yard field goal by ODU sophomore kicker Jarod Brown at 13:43 of the second quarter, the Monarchs took advantage of an interception by sophomore T.J. Cowart to set up a 2-yard touchdown scamper by sophomore running back Mario Crawford. Brown’s extra-point kick gave ODU a 24-0 cushion with 10:14 left in the second stanza.

NCCU sophomore Phillip Barren returned the ensuing kickoff 51 yards to the ODU 33-yard line to set the Eagles up for their first score. On the third play from scrimmage, red-shirt freshman quarterback Jordan Reid rolled out of the pocket and dashed 20 yards to the end zone at 8:46 of the second quarter.

Brown connected on a 26-yard field goal to push the ODU lead to 27-7 with 6:30 on the clock.

The Eagles used a 12-play, 74-yard drive to trim the deficit to 27-14 when Reid hit sophomore receiver Geovonie Irvine for a 19-yard touchdown with just 48 seconds left before intermission.

With the momentum favoring the home team, ODU moved the pigskin 36 yards in six plays to set up Brown for a 48-yard field goal, his third of the first half, with less than a second remaining in the second quarter. The Monarchs took a 30-14 advantage into the locker room.

On the opening ODU drive of the third quarter, DeMarco threw a long pass down the sideline that was intercepted by sophomore corner back Malik Cromartie. That proved to be DeMarco’s final play of the contest as he was sidelined with a reoccurring shoulder injury.

Cromartie struck again on the next Monarchs possession when he blocked Brown’s 43-yard field goal try.

NCCU made things interesting for the home crowd on Senior Day when Reid threw a 38-yard strike to Irvine for his second touchdown of the game to pull to within nine points at 30-21 at 3:36 of the third quarter.

Following the score, NCCU attempted a high, short kickoff that was caught by Daniel Lee, who found daylight for a 29-yard return to the Eagles’ 18-yard line. The NCCU defense held the Monarchs to a 31-yard field goal by Brown, as ODU extended the lead to 33-21.

While the Eagles’ defense continued to keep the Monarchs out of the scoring column, the NCCU offense could not capitalize on its final three possessions of the contest, as ODU won its fifth straight to end the season.

DeMarco finished the afternoon with 286 yards on 22-of-32 passing to pace ODU. Evans had eight catches for 111 yards and a touchdown. As a team, the Monarchs achieved 404 yards of total offense, while NCCU accumulated 320 total yards.

Reid completed 18-of-27 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns through the air, while rushing for a team-high 70 yards and another score. Irvine caught seven passes for 93 yards and two trips to the end zone. Senior running back Tim Shankle tallied 35 yards to finish his career as NCCU’s fifth all-time leading rusher with 2,375 yards.

ODU defensive lineman Ronnie Cameron amassed a game-high 14 tackles, including 3.5 stops for a loss with 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble.

NCCU’s defensive effort was topped by senior corner back Rashad Fox with 11 tackles, while junior linebacker Roger Stewart added nine takedowns and senior safety Ja’Quez Canty contributed eight hits.

NCCU said goodbye to 14 seniors: Tim Shankle, Tony McCord, Calvin Hillie, Donald Laster, Keon Williams, Ja’Quez Canty, Rashad Fox, Justin Campbell, Zachary Means, Anthony Sharp, Teryl White, Kenneth Campbell, Mario Brice, and Eric Stanley.

“These seniors have meant everything to this program,” said NCCU interim head football coach Darryl Bullock. “They held this team together through the transition. It’s a great group. I just wish we could have won it for them today. We got behind and it was too much to overcome.”


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