NORFOLK — Old Dominion took the suspense out of this one quickly, for a change.
The Monarchs, who have had specialized in fourth-quarter heroics of late, landed the decisive blows quickly Saturday and cruised past Rhode Island, 66-14, at S.B. Ballard Stadium.
Old Dominion was involved in games that were decided in the final minute in three of their previous five outings, including a 27-24 victory at crosstown rival Norfolk State last week that came down to the final play.
On Saturday, however, Taylor Heinicke threw four of his season-high six touchdown passes in the first half as the Monarchs scored the first 17 points and rolled up a 31-7 lead by halftime.
"It was a great feeling just to jump out on them early and stay on top of them," Heinicke said. "A lot better than last week."
Heinicke said a key to the fast start was Old Dominion's decision to ratchet up its offensive tempo.
"In previous weeks, we've been in a 'yellow' tempo as an offense, which is slower than usual, not that very hurry-up you usually see," Heinicke said. "We got back to that this week, and you could tell.
"Their defense, it was tired at the end of drives. We had a 14-play drive one time and you could tell it really took a toll on them. We'll probably do a lot more of that, the 'green' tempo, because it really helped us out a lot."
Old Dominion (6-3) is 6-0 against FCS schools this season.
The Monarchs, former rivals with Rhode Island in the Colonial Athletic Association, are technically an FCS independent this season as they transition to the FBS and Conference USA.
Bob Bentsen hooked up with Ross Kim for a 41-yard touchdown pass — the Rams' longest scoring pass of the season — and also added a 16-yard scoring pass to Robbie Jackson.
But it wasn't nearly enough against Old Dominion, which came in averaging 40.1 points per game and cracked the 50-point barrier for the fourth time this season.
The 66 points were the most allowed in program history by Rhode Island (3-7), which lost for the fourth time in five games.
"They spread the ball around and Heinicke is a great, great player," Rhode Island coach Joe Trainer said. "(And) their defense did a great job of stopping the ball and forcing us to fold."
Heinicke completed 28-of-35 passes for 293 yards and threw no interceptions before giving way to backup David Washington late in the third quarter.
Washington produced Old Dominion's seventh touchdown pass of the day when he hooked up with Jakwail Bailey from two yards early in the fourth quarter.
Antonio Vaughan, Zach Pascal and Larry Pinkard each caught two touchdown passes for the Monarchs.
The Monarchs also were buoyed by a surprisingly potent rushing attack.
Old Dominion lost starting tailback Gerard Johnson to an ankle injury in the first quarter, but still amassed up a season-high 288 yards on the ground as it took advantage of Rhode Island's tendency to drop extra players into pass coverage.
Cam Boyd led the way with 119 yards, 70 of them on one electrifying touchdown dash, the longest scoring run in school history.
Colby Goodwyn, a Phoebus High graduate, added 76 rushing yards and a three-yard scoring run midway through the fourth quarter to close out the scoring.
"It was clear right from the start of this game we were going to be able to have some success running the football," said Old Dominion coach Bobby Wilder.
NOTES: Colby Goodwyn finished the day with 1,490 career rushing yards and became Old Dominion's all-time leading rusher. The senior passed former Monarch quarterback Thomas DeMarco, who had 1,456 yards. DeMarco plays for the British Columbia Lions of the Canadian Football League. … Bob Bentsen's two touchdown passes vaulted him into fourth place on Rhode Island's all-time passing list. … The announced crowd of 20,118 marked Old Dominion's 34th consecutive sellout. The Monarchs have sold out every game since the program's rebirth in 2009. … Saturday's game marked the second meeting between the two schools. Old Dominion beat Rhode Island, 31-23, in 2011.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun