Elon Phoenix Football Opens Home Slate Against #16 Charleston Southern

ELON, N.C. – After splitting a pair of road games to open the 2017 season, the Elon University football team will play on campus inside of Rhodes Stadium for the first time this year when it hosts the 16th-ranked Charleston Southern Buccaneers for Hall of Fame Weekend on Saturday, Sept. 16. Game time is set for 6 p.m.

Game Notes

Fans can watch the game live as part of CAA Football’s Game of the Week package through College Sports Live. Scott Sudikoff and Brandon Noble will have the call on that broadcast. Phoenix faithful can also listen to the game on WSML 104.5 FM and 1200 AM as well as at elonphoenix.com as Taylor Durham and Matt Krause will call the action. The pregame radio coverage will begin at 5 p.m.

• Elon’s 34 points scored in the win at Furman were the most by the program since putting up 49 points in a win over West Virginia Wesleyan in 2013
• Davis Cheek became the first Phoenix quarterback to throw for at least three touchdowns since Mike Quinn tossed three at Delaware in 2014
• Tre Lennon hauled in nine passes, including two for scores; in doing so, he became the first Elon player to have at least nine catches in a game since Andre Davis did so against New Hampshire in 2014 and the first to have a multiple TD game since Corey Joyner at Maine in 2015
• Kicker Owen Johnson made the first two field goals of his career at Furman, including the game-winning 36-yarder with five seconds left
• Elon has played a total of 10 games on Sept. 16 in its history. The maroon and gold is 4-6 in those games; Five of the games have involved shutouts

At halftime, Elon will recognize the members of its 47th Elon Sports Hall of Fame class. This year’s inductees include women’s track and field standout Jessica Clendenning ’07, women’s soccer player Shannon Currin ’95 and football players Steven Ferguson ’00 and Andrew Wilcox ’09.

Elon has come out on top in each of its four previous meetings with Charleston Southern. The two first met in 1999 with the maroon and gold claiming a 38-13 victory at Burlington Memorial Stadium. In the last contest, Elon picked up a 21-13 win on the road in 2002.

Elon is currently 57-32-2 all-time against members of the Big South Conference. Of the 57 wins, 45 have come against either Presbyterian (24) or Gardner-Webb (21). Elon and Charleston Southern, along with Liberty and Gardner-Webb, were the first four members of the league for football.

Elon’s 2017 roster sports a quartet of players who call South Carolina home. Senior linebacker Johnathan Jackson hails from Moore (Dorman), while junior quarterback Daniel Thompson is from Boiling Springs (Boiling Springs). Red-shirt freshman kicker Jack Pawloski calls Florence (Wilson) home and true freshman linebacker Tiras Williams is from Anderson (T.L. Hanna).

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 495-444-18 (.527) and needs just five wins to reach the milestone of 500 victories.

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 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.

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.

Elon returns five players who started all 11 games of the 2016 season – offensive linemen Ikenna Nwokeji, CJ Toogood and Oli Udoh as well as defensive lineman Dondre Howell and defensive back Chris Blair.

Nwokeji has now made 36 consecutive starts, while Udoh’s streak is at 24 games and Toogood’s is at 13 contests. Toogood has made total of 21 career starts. Blair has started 33 straight games and Howell is at 13.

Other players who have started double digit games are offensive lineman Alex Higgins (20 total, nine consecutive), wide receiver Corey Joyner (16 total, two consecutive), wide receiver Tre Lennon (17 total) and quarterback Daniel Thompson (16 total), defensive lineman Nick Groll (14 total) and linebackers Johnathan Jackson (15 total), Warren Messer (10 total) and Matt Baker(10 total).

Elon’s 2017 roster features five players who earned their bachelor’s degrees last spring. Those five are defensive back Chris Blair, offensive linemen Graham Albright and Ikenna Nwokeji and defensive linemen Nick Groll and Dondre Howell. That number rates second in CAA Football behind James Madison’s 10 graduates.

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.