NORFOLK, Va. -- On a night when both offenses took turns lighting up the opposing defense, Old Dominion used a defensive play to seal the deal.
Reggie Owens and Fellonte Misher drove Citadel quarterback Ben Dupree out of bounds just shy of the goal line with 1:39 left, allowing the Monarchs to survive The Citadel 59-58 Saturday night at S.B. Ballard Stadium.
Dupree had spent most of the night having his way with ODU's youthful defenders, running for 149 yards and a school-record five touchdowns. And with the Bulldogs down seven late in the fourth quarter, Dupree fired a 23-yard TD pass to Jake Stenson to get The Citadel to within one point.
After initially lining up for the game-tying extra point kick, the Bulldogs called timeout, then returned with their offense to try for a two-point conversion.
"That was an easy one," Bulldogs coach Kevin Higgins. "On the road, our defense was struggling stopping them. We were moving the ball effectively against them. I didn't know whether we'd get the ball back again. Missed it by six inches."
Dupree sprinted to his left and appeared to have a path to the end zone. But Owens and Misher cut off his path and denied him just short of the goal line.
"It just came down to me shedding a block and making the play," said Owens, who added that even after making the tackle, he wasn't sure if Dupree had gotten in.
"I just know I hit him," Owens said.
That's not something the Monarchs could say often. A defense that came in allowing 511 total yards per game surrendered 566 to the triple-option Bulldogs (1-3), including 463 on the ground. Darien Robinson led the way with 22 rushing yards and two TDs.
The Monarchs (2-2) are used to these kinds of shootouts, though, and were able to score points as quickly as they gave them up. Quarterback Taylor Heinicke threw for 363 yards and three touchdowns and added a 25-yard scoring run. It was one of a school-record five rushing TDs for ODU; Colby Goodwyn and Cam Boyd each had two. Jarod Brown added a career-long 52-yard field goal.
Brown's kick capped a 17-point third-quarter barrage that came after back-to-back successful onside kicks, plays ODU coach Bobby Wilder conceded were as much about keeping the Bulldogs offense off the field as they were about trying to get more points.
"We were basically trying to steal possessions," Wilder said.
The Monarchs took a 51-38 lead into the fourth, but Dupree touchdown runs of two and 19 yards allowed The Citadel to erase the 13-point deficit and surge ahead 52-51 with 4:21 remaining.
But the Monarchs needed just one play to respond, as Heinicke fired a 15-yard pass down the middle that Larry Pinkard caught in stride, outrunning two defenders to the end zone to complete a 70-yard scoring pass play. Heinicke and Pinkard then hooked up for the two-point conversion to give ODU a seven-point cushion.
The Citadel still had time to respond, though, as ODU failed to convert on its third onside kick of the game and the Bulldogs began its final drive on the ODU 43. The Bulldogs needed just five plays to close to within a point but the ODU defense finally came up big.
"The play got strung out," Dupree said. "It was a double-option (and) I could have pitched it, but I thought I had leverage on a guy, and I think I beat him to the corner but another guy stepped up. I tried to lower my shoulder. I probably could have went high. I knew I didn't get in."
The Citadel got off to a great start, scoring 21 unanswered points and claiming a 31-28 lead at halftime.
Robinson produced a 62-yard touchdown run on the third play from scrimmage and added a 5-yard scoring run early in the second quarter to tie the game at 14. After a blocked punt by the Walker Smith set the Bulldogs up at the ODU 13-yard line, Dupree scored the first of his two first-half TDs on a 13-yard run.
Dupree's 17-yard TD run on The Citadel's next possession put the Bulldogs in front 28-14.
ODU responded with two touchdowns in 36 seconds to tie things at 28. Colby Goodwin ran in from two yards out with 4:25 left. Then, after ODU recovered a Robinson fumble, Cam Boyd's 13-yard TD run drew the Monarchs even.
Thomas Warren's 27-yard field goal as the half ended gave the Bulldogs their three-point edge.
The Citadel finished the half with 234 rushing yards.
NOTES: ODU's Brown had a streak of 94 straight conversions snapped with he missed his attempt after ODU's sixth touchdown. ... The attendance of 20,118 marked ODU's 31st straight sellout. The Monarchs have sold out every home game since the school restarted its football program in 2009. ... ODU had scored touchdowns on nine straight first-half possessions over two games - all seven last week against Howard and the first two Saturday - before The Citadel finally forced a punt early in the second quarter...ODU is coming off a school-record point total in last week's 76-19 rout of Howard. ... The Monarchs racked up 773 yards of total offense against the Bison.