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Old Dominion caps first 10-win FBS season with Bahamas Bowl victory over EMU

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Old Dominion (10-3) checked off a few items on the season-long to-do list for the still young FBS program. On Saturday, with a 24-20 victory over Eastern Michigan (7-6) in the Bahamas Bowl, Old Dominion capped the first 10-win season in program history since moving up the FBS and Conference USA with its first bowl victory in its first bowl game in program history. Old Dominion quarterback David Washington passed for three touchdowns and Ray Lawry rushed for 133 yards on the ground in the win for the Monarchs.

Eastern Michigan had their chances on offense against Old Dominion, but racking up 470 yards and owning the lead in time of possession was put to waste against Old Dominion. Settling for a field goal in the fourth quarter from the two-yard line and punting the ball on a fourth and eight from the Old Dominion 48-yard line with under six minutes to play gave the Monarchs a chance to put the game on ice. Eagles quarterback Brogan Roback passed for 300 yards and a couple of touchdowns to lead the Eastern Michigan offense, bringing a disappointing close to an otherwise remarkable season for the Eastern Michigan program.

Old Dominion never trailed in the game. After taking a 10-0 lead into halftime, Old Dominion had to fend off Eastern Michigan in the second half. The Eagles tied the game at 17-17 late in the third quarter but could only score a field goal while Old Dominion tacked on a touchdown in the fourth quarter. The game-winning score came on a five-yard touchdown pass from Washington to Jonathan Duhart.

At the moment, the MAC is still looking for its first bowl victory of the season after dropping to 0-3. Conference USA improved its record to 3-2 this bowl season with the Old Dominion win. Conference USA now owns bowl victories against the American Athletic Conference (Western Kentucky over Memphis in the Boca Raton Bowl), MAC and Sun Belt Conference (Southern Mississippi over Louisiana-Lafayette in the New Orleans Bowl). The lone loss of the bowl season so far came against the Mountain West Conference, with UTSA coming up three points shy against New Mexico in the New Mexico Bowl. Conference USA can even its record against the Mountain West in the Hawaii Bowl when Middle Tennessee takes on Hawaii.

Old Dominion’s 2017 season kicks off on September 2 at home against Albany. The Monarchs will also host North Carolina and play at Virginia Tech in back-to-back weeks in September before diving into Conference USA play.

Eastern Michigan will get the 2017 season underway on September 2 at home against Charlotte. The Eagles also play three non-conference game son the road against Rutgers, Kentucky and Army next season.

Ex-Georgia Tech QB Vad Lee shining at James Madison

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Often times it can be easy to lose track of players that move from the spotlight of a major power conference like the ACC to the often overlooked playing fields of the FCS. If you forgot about former Georgia Tech quarterback Vad Lee, then you can certainly be excused. He just started his second season at James Madison of the Colonial Athletic Association, one of the strongest or deepest conferences in the FCS on a regular basis, and he has started his 2015 season with a bang.

Lee was named the Offensive Player of the Week by the Colonial Athletic Association on Monday for his strong efforts in James Madison’s season-opening victory over Morehead State. In the win, Lee completed 18-of-25 passes for 297 yards and three touchdowns before being rested in the third quarter. Lee also rushed for 105 yards on 13 rushing attempts and scored a fourth touchdown on the ground. Combined, it was the third-best single-game total yardage of Lee’s career. The highlights of the day came via a 66-yard touchdown run and a 66-yard touchdown pass to JMU receiver Ishmael Hyman.

Lee left Georgia Tech in the spring of 2014, ultimately landing with the Dukes in Harrisonburg, Virginia. It was there Lee was reunited with the coach that had previously attempted to recruit him to North Carolina, Everett Withers. The new head coach of the Dukes was quick to insert Lee into the offense in 2014. James Madison went 9-3 last season and participated in the FCS playoffs. Lee set new school records for single-game passing, completion percentage, single-seaosn touchdowns and more while also collecting some awards and recognition throughout the season. He finished fourth in the Walter Payton Award voting (Eastern Washington quarterback Vernon Adams, now at Oregon, finished second in the voting) and he beat out Old Dominion quarterback Taylor Heinicke and Virginia Tech cornerback Kendall Fuller for the 2014 Dudley Award (top Division 1 football player in Virginia).

Lee and the Dukes have two more games to play before hitting the road for the first time this season. James Madison, ranked No. 13 in the STATS FCS Poll, will travel to SMU. The Mustangs are in their first season under head coach Chad Morris, and have already shown some offensive flair in the season-opening loss at home to Baylor. James Madison is no stranger to pulling an upset of an FBS foe. The Dukes upended Virginia Tech in Blacksburg in 2010. Can Lee lead James Madison to score a win against an FBS opponent once again? We will find out on September 26.

Lee was joined on the CAA’s first set of weekly honors by teammate Raven Greene. The safety was named the conference’s defensive player of the week after totaling eight solo and nine total tackles and one forced fumble.

Old Dominion turned down opportunity to be destroyed by Alabama

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Old Dominion turned down a chance to play at Alabama even though it would have resulted in a nice pay day totaling over $1 million for the school. A full schedule already lined up for the Monarchs is the reason according to a report quoting Old Dominion Athletics Director Wood Selig.

“We’ve already got 12 games,” Selig said to The Virginian Pilot. “I’d certainly touch base with (head coach) Bobby Wilder on this, but I don’t think playing a game against Alabama would be an advisable move given the infancy of our program.”

Old Dominion is just five years old, and is working their way up to being able to play a program of Alabama’s caliber without getting embarrassed in the process. Turning down a sure-money game is quite admirable for Old Dominion. According to the report, Old Dominion was contacted by Alabama and ESPN to work out a potential game in Tuscaloosa. Alabama has two schedule vacancies to fill in the non-conference schedule in 2015.

Old Dominion has games scheduled against Eastern Michigan, Norfolk State, North Carolina State and Appalachian State in 2015. Despite having the full schedule, Selig says sometimes a call will come anyway in hopes of convincing a school to make a scheduling change.

“They are constantly trying to move people around in order to set up attractive games to broadcast,” Selig said of ESPN. “If they know you’ve got an open week or can handle another game, sometimes they will contact you. They often say, if you do that, we’ll consider you down the line for some type of television broadcast or help you get a home and home with a certain school.”