NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — Hayden Wolff threw three touchdown passes to Ali Jennings III and Old Dominion saw a 21-point lead evaporate in the fourth quarter only to rally for a 56-34 win over Charlotte in the regular season finale Saturday to become bowl eligible for the first time in six seasons.
Old Dominion's last appearance in a bowl game was in 2016, when the Monarchs defeated Eastern Michigan in the Bahamas Bowl. ODU is not guaranteed a bowl-game bid, however. Conference USA has seven guaranteed bowl bids, but after North Texas upset previously unbeaten UTSA it now has eight bowl-eligible teams.
Jonathan Cruz kicked a pair of field goals to start the fourth quarter, pulling the 49ers within one, 35-34 with 10:04 left to play.
Blake Watson capped a 75-yard drive with a 2-yard run for his third score with 6:42 left and Wolff and Jennings hooked up for a 36-yard score with 3:49 to play to make it 49-34. The Monarchs added a touchdown when Charlotte quarterback Chris Reynolds was sacked and fumbled into the end zone, where Deeve Harris recovered for the final score.
Jennings' career day included nine catches for 252 yards. Blake Watson carried 18 times for 115 yards and two touchdowns and Wolff finished 17 of 26 for 328 yards, but was picked off twice, once for a touchdown that brought Charlotte to within 28-14 at intermission.
Craig Reynolds was 24 of 40 for 231 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions for the 49ers (5-7, 3-5). Grant DuBose caught nine passes for 94 yards and a touchdown.
Old Dominion (6-6, 5-3 Conference USA) started the season with six losses in its first seven games, then closed with five straight wins.
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