NORFOLK, Va. - The North Carolina Tar Heels, a power five program out of the Atlantic Coast Conference, dealt Old Dominion its first home defeat since November 2015. But in the loss, ODU gained a new starting quarterback.
True freshman Steven Williams, a graduate of Woodrow Wilson H.S. in Washington, D.C., replaced starting quarterback Jordan Hoy and backup QB Blake LaRussa in the 53-23 loss.
"When you don't have a first down in the first quarter and you have no energy on the sideline because the players feel it, you have to make the move," ODU head football coach Bobby Wilder explained. "I didn't go into this game thinking [Williams] would play."
Seeing his first action, the 17 year old Williams completed 9-of-20 passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw an interception and lost a fumble. Williams added 34 rushing yards on seven attempts.
"We haven't developed an identity on offense," Wilder noted. "Stevie Williams today gave us an identity. Steven Williams is the quarterback of the Old Dominion football team moving forward."
"They just said 'let's go," Williams explained of how he learned he was about to receive his first college playing time. "My teammates were all behind me. I just had to go do my job and we'll be fine."
Old Dominion outscored North Carolina (1-2), 16-14, in the second half, after trailing the Tar Heels, 39-7, at the half.
Prior to the game, ODU learned All-Conference USA running back Ray Lawry, the program's all-time leading rusher, has a torn hamstring. Head coach Bobby Wilder reveals the injury could keep Lawry sidelined for the remainder of the season.
"We got some bad news right before the game," Wilder explained. "We had an MRI. He has a torn hamstring which very well could be a season-ending injury."
The Monarchs, 2-and-1 on the season, travel to Virginia Tech next Saturday for their first ever meeting with the Hokies. After Saturday's loss to UNC, Old Dominion is 0-and-8 all-time vs. power five opponents.