Taylor Heinicke topped himself.
The quarterback for Old Dominion, who threw seven touchdown passes in a blowout victory against Campbell last week, made that look like no big deal with an encore performance that earned him a place in college football history.
Heinicke threw for a NCAA Division I record 730 yards on Saturday, leading the highly ranked Monarchs back from a 23-point deficit midway through the third quarter to a 64-61 victory against New Hampshire in Norfolk, Va.
Make that nationally ranked New Hampshire, one of the premier programs in the Colonial Athletic Association, the closest thing at the FCS level to what the Southeastern Conference is at the FBS level.
But as New Hampshire coach Sean McDonnell said of ODU: "They've got a guy pulling the trigger who doesn't make mistakes."
He sure didn't make any Saturday while breaking a mark David Klingler of Houston set in 1990 with 716 yards against Arizona State.
"At the end of the third quarter I was sitting on the bench with my quarterback coach, coach (Ron) Whitcomb, and we looked up at the scoreboard and there was a stat thing and it said 499 yards passing and I was like, 'What the heck? Almost at 500 and there's still the fourth quarter to play,'" the sophomore said Sunday in a telephone interview.
"That was crazy numbers, but you've got to go win now."
Heinicke completed 55 pass and made 79 attempts without being intercepted, an NCAA record for all divisions. He threw for 480 yards in the second half alone, when Old Dominion erased a 47-24 deficit by scoring 40 points in the last 22:10.
For good measure, he also gave the Monarchs' defense a third-quarter pep talk.
"After we were coming back and down by 16, I went over to the defense and said, 'Come on, guys. Just get one stop. Get one stop. Let us get back (within) eight points, and then come up with another stop and we're going to win this game. I promise you, the offense is going to score every time we get the ball,'" he recalled telling the unit.
"You could just see it in their eyes," he said. "They had a differently mentality then, and they went out and got it done."
As for Heinicke, he hit Nick Mayers from 12 yards out for a TD, and then again for the 2-point conversion, to pull the Monarchs within 54-46, then followed a stop with a 75-yard drive in three plays, the last a 9-yard pass to Mayers again, and a 2-point toss to Blair Roberts to make it 54-all with 10:09 left.
The defense forced another punt, and Heinicke led an 89-yard march to Angus Harper's 2-yard run to put them ahead, 61-54, with 4:39 left. But on a day when it seemed the last team to have the ball would win, New Hampshire drove 60 yards in three plays, the last Andy Vailas' 45-yard TD pass to R.J. Harris.
Vailas was no slouch himself, finishing with 366 yards passing and five touchdown throws.
It was tied at 61, and with 3:22 to play.
This time, the Monarchs took their time, keeping the drive alive when Heinicke twice completed passes to convert third downs and keep the chains moving, and finally, with Jarod Brown's go-ahead 25-yard field goal field goal with 0:41 left.
Heinicke made all the headlines, but give credit to his offense line. On a day in which temperatures on the field approached 100, ODU's fast-paced spread ran 112 offensive plays and the same five linemen played them all.
Heinicke's performance probably shouldn't have come as a complete surprise.
Last season, when senior quarterback Thomas DeMarco got hurt in the fifth game, Monarchs coach Bobby Wilder turned to the freshman from Georgia who had impressed him while running the scout team.
"He understands the concept of protecting the football," Wilder said Sunday.
Beginning with an 8 for 11 performance for 119 yards with two touchdowns in the second half of a victory against Massachusetts, Heinicke had 25 TD tosses - and just one interception - for the season.
This year, he's already thrown for 19 touchdowns against four interceptions. He passed for 492 yards and four TDs in a 57-23 victory against Duquesne, 213 yards and three TDs in a 45-7 victory against Hampton and 486 yards with the seven touchdowns as the Monarchs trampled Campbell 70-14 last weekend.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Heinicke also leads the Monarchs in rushing.
"We have this ability to be incredibly explosive, and that's because of the quarterback," Wilder said. "He allows us to play at such an incredible pace. I've never seen anything like this."
The performance Saturday left Heinicke with his first sore arm since his high school baseball days - he was a shortstop - and with more than 50 text messages and tons of love on Facebook to soak in.
"I'm enjoying it because not many people get to experience this type of thing," he said.
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