ELON, N.C. – Mike Quinn’s five-yard touchdown pass toKierre Brown with 3:57 remaining in the game broke a 13-13 tie and lifted the Elon Phoenix to a 20-13 victory over the visiting Charlotte 49ers in front of 11,203 fans at Rhodes Stadium on Saturday night. The victory was the first as Elon head coach for Rich Skrosky.
With the win, Elon now sits at 1-2 on the year, while Charlotte suffered its first defeat and now is 3-1.
“I can’t tell you how elated I am for them (the team),” said Skrosky. “This is by far the best prep week in the three weeks we’ve had. I’m really happy for the kids. I’ll enjoy it. I’ll go home and spend some time with my wife and then get back to work tomorrow. I’m so confident that, each and every day, the program is moving in the right direction.”
After Charlotte’s Blake Brewer drilled a 43-yard field goal with 11:17 to play to tie the game at 13, the two teams traded punts before Elon began a drive from its own 37 with 8:30 remaining on the clock. The Phoenix crossed midfield four plays later when Quinn hit Brown for a gain of five to the Charlotte 45-yard line. On second-and-11 from the 41, Quinn connected with Tre Lennon for a gain of 16 to the Charlotte 25. The maroon and gold picked up a first down at the eight before facing a third-and-goal from the five when Quinn lofted the TD toss to Brown, the second time in the game that the duo hooked up for a score.
The ensuing 49er drive moved to the Elon 37 before Odell Benton picked off a Matt Johnson pass. Elon’s offense would be forced to punt and Charlotte had one final attempt to tie the game as it started at its own 37 with 1:18 to play. The 49ers quickly moved into Phoenix territory and reached the Elon 22 after a 19-yard toss from Johnson to Justin Bolus. Facing third-and-10, Johnson found Corey Nesmith for what appeared to be a touchdown, but Charlotte was flagged for both holding and an illegal forward pass and time expired to wrap up the Phoenix victory.
“We wouldn’t want it any other way,” said Benton. “We told each other, ‘Just do your job.’ When it came down to it, everyone just did their job. We’d been getting a pass rush by only rushing four so we knew we could sit back in coverage.”
Charlotte got the scoring started when Johnson tossed a 19-yard TD pass to Austin Duke in the first quarter. The Phoenix answered with Quinn and Brown’s first touchdown of the game, a 14-yard pass. That score was the first touchdown allowed by Charlotte in the first half this season.
It remained a 7-7 game until 11:49 left in the third quarter when John Gallagher hit a 24-yard field goal. Brewer tied it at 10 with a 27-yarder before Gallagher put the Phoenix back on top, 13-10, with five minutes to go in the third.
Quinn set new career highs with 331 passing yards, 43 completions and 59 passes attempted as the Phoenix offense ran a total of 97 plays. Brown’s two TD receptions were also a personal best.
Elon’s defense limited a Charlotte offense that had been averaging 43.0 points per game and had rushed for 243.0 yards per game. The 49ers gained just 124 yards on the ground on the night.
Benton finished with five total tackles, including a sack, forced and recovered a fumble, had one interception and one quarterback hurry. Jonathan Spain added eight tackles to up his career total to 269. That number places him ninth on the program’s all-time chart and fourth since the move to NCAA Division I play. He also had one of Elon’s three interceptions and broke up two passes.
The Phoenix will hit the road next Saturday to take on fifth-ranked Coastal Carolina in a 7 p.m. game that will be televised on the American Sports Network.