2017 Elon Football Season Opens at Toledo on Thursday

ELON, N.C. – Elon Phoenix football returns this week as the maroon and gold will open up the 2017 campaign with a 7 p.m. game on Thursday, Aug. 31 at Toledo. Fans can listen to the game on WSML 104.5 FM and 1200 AM or watch it live on ESPN3.


Elon’s pregame radio coverage will hit the airwaves at 6 p.m. The radio broadcast is also available at elonphoenix.com.

• Curt Cignetti was named Elon’s 22nd head football coach on Dec. 31, 2016 following six successful seasons as the head coach at NCAA Division II Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP).
• Thursday’s matchup with Toledo begins the 96th season of Elon football.
• For the second time in three seasons, Elon opens with back-to-back road games.
• Elon will be playing in the state of Ohio for the first time since a Nov. 27, 2001 contest at Youngstown State.
• The Phoenix will be playing an FBS opponent for the first time. This will be the program’s first against a team from the MAC.

Thursday’s game will be the first between Elon and the Rockets.

Elon has just played one game against a team from the state of Ohio. The Phoenix dropped a 45-7 decision at #6 Youngstown State on Nov. 27, 2001.

Elon’s 2017 roster sports a quartet of players who call Ohio home. Senior offensive lineman Graham Albright hails from Westerville (Westerville Central), while junior tight end John Luke Arrington is from Springboro (Springboro). The other two members of the team from Ohio were both signed in February’s class – defensive lineman Tristen Cox is from Piqua (Piqua) and offensive lineman Michael Purcell hails from Centerville (Centerville).

The Phoenix coaching staff also has ties to Ohio. Running backs coach Matt Merritt played collegiately at Capital University and has spent time on the staffs at both Ohio State University and Ohio Dominican University and linebackers coach Bryant Haines spent the 2013 season as a member of the staff at Ohio State.

Now in its 96th season, the Elon football program is closing in on its 500th all-time victory. Elon has an all-time record of 494-443-18 (.527) and needs just six wins to reach the milestone of 500 victories.

In its Division I tenure, Elon has gone just 4-14 in season openers. Of the 14 losses, seven have been to FBS opponents.

Overall, the program has gone 39-55-1 in season openers. The Phoenix last came out of its first game of the year with a win in 2009 – a 56-0 drubbing of Davidson at Rhodes Stadium. Since then, Elon has opened its year against an FBS foe six times in seven years.

Elon has only opened at home six times during its time as a FCS program.

Since moving to the FCS level for the 1999 season, Elon has played nine games against FBS level competition. The Phoenix is in search of its first victory over an FBS opponent.

Elon’s first game against an FBS foe came in 2007 when the Phoenix dropped a 28-13 contest ta South Florida.

This year’s game against Toledo marks the eighth time overall, and seventh time in the last eight years, that Elon has started the year against an FBS squad.

Elon has also played FBS games against Wake Forest (2009, 2015), Duke (2010, 2014), Vanderbilt (2011), North Carolina (2012) and Georgia Tech (2013).

Elon is under the leadership of Curt Cignetti who was named the program’s 22nd head football coach on Dec. 31, 2016. The assistant coach/recruiting coordinator on Nick Saban’s undefeated 2009 National Championship team at Alabama, Cignetti spent the previous six seasons as the head coach at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, amassing a career record of 53-17.

Cignetti is the sixth man to guide the Phoenix since the program moved to Division I play for the 1999 season.

The last Elon coach to win his first game at the helm of the program was Pete Lembo who saw his Phoenix defeat #25 Coastal Carolina 23-20 to open the 2006 season.

Elon’s first-year head coach Curt Cignetti grew up around football. His father Frank compiled a career 199-77-1 record as a collegiate head coach at West Virginia and IUP and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2013. His brother Frank Jr. is currently the quarterbacks coach for the New York Giants.

Taylor Durham ’96 has assumed the play-by-play duties for the Phoenix for the 2017 season. Durham moves to the play-by-play role following eight seasons as the primary color commentator for Elon football. Durham will continue his duties on men’s basketball radio broadcasts this upcoming season on WSML 104.5 FM and 1200 AM as well.

Joining Durham this year will be Matt Krause ’16 who returns to his alma mater as the color analyst for Phoenix football. Krause has previously served Elon Athletics as the play-by-play voice for women’s basketball on Phoenix All-Access and called baseball and basketball games on WSOE, Elon’s student radio station. Krause currently serves as the radio voice of the Burlington Royals minor league baseball team and will continue to serve in play-by-play duties on men’s basketball broadcasts on Phoenix All-Access.