NORFOLK, Va. -- Old Dominion ran for three touchdowns and the Monarch defense recorded seven sacks, as ODU defeated Albany, 31-17, in the season opener on Saturday evening at Foreman Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium.
Old Dominion (1-0) jumped out to an early lead behind Ray Lawry's 41-yard rushing touchdown in the first quarter. Brandon Simmons and Gemonta Jackson each added goal-line scores in the second quarter to provide the Monarchs with a 21-3 lead heading into halftime.
Following kicker Nick Rice's first career field goal midway through the third quarter, Albany (0-1) responded with back-to-back touchdowns to cut the ODU lead to 24-17 with 8:42 remaining. However, Blake LaRussa connected with Jonathan Duhart on a 55-yard touchdown pass less than a minute later to extend the Monarch lead back to double digits and secure the 14-point victory for ODU. Duhart finished with 97 yards on five receptions.
LaRussa, in his first career start, finished the game with 161 yards and a touchdown on 14-of-20 passing. Lawry led the ODU ground game with 44 yards. Defensively, Bunmi Rotimi recorded two sacks and Miles Fox had seven tackles and 1.5 sacks. Marvin Branch led the team in tackles with eight and added an interception.