By Ryan Nelson (@TheRyanNelson_)
NASSAU -- The Monarchs (10-3) claimed the school’s first ever bowl win in the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl, defeating Eastern Michigan (7-6) 24-20. And what better place to win your first bowl game than the Bahamas?
“I just want to say how excited we are to win the game, but number two how grateful we are for how we were treated this week by everybody associated with the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl – all the wonderful people we met,” ODU head coach Bobby Wilder said. “This was a life-changing experience. We made memories to last a lifetime, and to win the game makes it that much more special.”
It wasn’t the high-flying, scoreboard busting affair of Bahamas Bowls past. In fact, of the three Bahamas Bowls to date, this game was the lowest scoring.
But the Monarchs didn’t need a holiday feast of explosive plays on offense to win their first ever bowl game -- just sound play from their quarterback David Washington.
Washington finished the game with 188 yards passing for three touchdowns and an interception. With the game tied at 17, Washington found junior WR Jonathan Duhart on a back shoulder fade to the corner of the end zone to give the Monarchs the go-ahead lead early in the fourth quarter.
It was a total team effort for ODU. Washington also found wide receivers Zach Pascal (53 yards, 1 TD) and Travis Fulgham (31 yards, 1 TD) for scores.
The Monarchs used a balanced offensive attack to open passing lanes for Washington. RB Ray Lawry finished with 133 yards on 23 carries. In all, ODU finished with 394 yards of total offense on the day.
Eagles offense flew, but not high enough
Though you couldn't tell by the score, the Eagles were much more productive on offense than their Conference USA counterparts.
Eastern Michigan gained 470 yards of total offense on the day, due in large part to the play of QB Brogan Roback. The junior signal caller threw for 300 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
Leading wide out for the Eagles, Sergio Bailey II, had himself a game as well. Bailey II hauled in five receptions for 69 yards and a touchdown. The Eagles were in their first bowl game since the 1987 California Bowl.