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We Were All Monarchs

We Were All Monarchs

Is there anything more fun than watching college football? Absolutely not.

Don’t argue with me. 

As someone who counts the days until football season begins and who sinks into a minor depression when it’s over, I can say that what happened this past weekend is what many of us love about the sport.

From coast to coast, conference to conference, Saturday’s games - as usual - featured smash-mouth plays, outrageous SportsCenter highlights and unpredictable outcomes. Brilliant passes, boneheaded drops, nail-biting scores and blowouts.

And a Cinderella team from Norfolk that took down a football powerhouse. 

That was the sports story of the day. The week, really. And it happened right here in Tidewater.

On Saturday afternoon I was in front of the TV watching Ole Miss beat Kent State - I know, sad when THAT seems like an accomplishment - while also watching Virginia trounce Louisville on my iPad. (Why do my two teams always seem to play at the same time?)

All the while I was checking my phone to keep an eye on scores. Hey, you never know when a potential upset will make you want to flip the channel. 

Suddenly I noticed that ODU and Virginia Tech were tied 14-14 at the half.

What was happening at S.B. Ballard Stadium?

I quickly found the game and watched - delighted and amazed - right up until delirious ODU fans rushed the field to celebrate their unlikely 49-35 victory over Virginia Tech. The No. 13 team in the country.

Accomplishing that with an undersized, former walk-on quarterback from Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School (my daughter’s alma mater) made this unlikely victory even sweeter.

You see, the Monarchs took the field believing something the rest of us didn’t: That they could beat the Hokies.

They believed that even after three terrible losses to start the season. Even after Vegas oddsmakers had them as 28.5 point underdogs. 

"Confidence is shook right now, in everybody," coach Bobby Wilder told The Virginian-Pilot after ODU’s crushing 52-10 defeat at Liberty on September 1. "And that’s my job as the head coach to get that back.”

Well, whatever Wilder did three weeks later, it worked.

ODU not only played with confidence, they had a terrific game plan. They outplayed Tech, especially in the 4th quarter. Best of all, they never quit.

Maybe I’m still caught up in Monarch mania, but the ODU players looked like they were having fun out there. They were exuberant. You got the feeling they didn’t want the game to end.

They could have taken a knee with 1:34 left, but why do that when you can score another touchdown? An exclamation point on a thrilling, stunning win.

No offense to Hokie fans, but the rest of us were all Monarchs by the time the final whistle blew.

ODU supporters lucky enough to be in the stadium will save their ticket stubs and one day tell their grandchildren that they were there on September 22, 2018. For the biggest win in the school’s history.

In every game, there’s a winner and a loser. When the Davids beat the Goliaths it makes many of us stand up and cheer. We were on our feet in my living room.

Well done, Monarchs. One heck of a college football game.

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