ELON, N.C. – Malcolm Summers ran for a career-high 178 yards on a personal-best 30 carries and scored one touchdown and the Elon University football team survived a last-second field goal attempt to defeat the 16th-rated Charleston Southern Buccaneers by a 19-17 margin at Rhodes Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 16.
With the victory, Elon’s first in a home opener since 2013, the Phoenix improved to 2-1 on the year. The loss dropped the Bucs to 0-2.
Quotable: “This was a great win. We just wouldn’t be denied at the end. Our defense really came through. Last week and this week, we find a way to make it interesting there at the end, but to win games like this only strengthens our belief, our confidence and our resolve that we can win close games at the end.” – head coach Curt Cignetti.
How it happened: On its second drive of the game, Elon marched 93 yards in 11 plays to take a 6-0 lead when Davis Cheek hit Kortez Week for a 28-yard touchdown pass. Summers was a workhorse on the drive, toting the ball eight times for 58 yards.
Charleston Southern came back to take a 7-6 edge following a 15-play, 80-yard drive that ate up 7:31 of game clock and lasted in to the second quarter only to see the Phoenix march right back down the field to regain the lead when Summers made video-game like moves to race 30 yards for a score. On the run, Summers took the handoff and went around the left side, delivering stiff arms to two Buc defenders before trucking a third and spinning away from a fourth on his way to paydirt. The Phoenix would carry that 13-7 advantage into halftime.
The maroon and gold’s lead stretched to 19-7 on the Phoenix’s first drive of the second half when Cheek ran it in from eight yards out. Summers accounted for 34 yards on seven carries on this drive, while Cheek completed all three of his passes for 34 yards.
The Bucs began to rally late at the start of the fourth period when Anthony Ellis intercepted a pass to give CSU possession at the Elon 40-yard line. Six plays later, Noah Shuler crossed the goal line from a yard out to make it a 19-14 contest. Another Elon miscue, this one a muffed punt, gave Charleston Southern the ball at the Elon 18 with 7:56 to play. The Phoenix defense held the Bucs to a field goal to hold on to a two-point cushion.
After an Elon three-and-out, CSU began one final drive from its own 36 with 3:54 showing on the clock. After moving the chains on a fourth-and-one from the Elon 40, the Bucs went the wrong way thanks to a hold and later a false start. Following a 13-yard gain on third-and-22, CSU raced its field goal team on to the field and saw its 51-yard attempt fall short to give the Phoenix the victory.
Elon – Malcolm Summers (30 carries, 178 yards, 1 TD)
CSU – Noah Shuler (14 carries, 69 yards, 2 TD)
Elon – Davis Cheek (8-17, 145 yards, 1 TD)
CSU – Shane Bucenell (10-17, 108 yards)
Elon – Kortez Weeks (3 receptions, 71 yards, 1 TD)
CSU – Saire Davis (3 receptions, 53 yards)
Elon – Warren Messer (12 tackles, 1 QBH)
CSU – Demetri Royer (12 tackles)
Noteworthy: Elon improved to 5-0 all-time against Charleston Southern… Summers’ 178 yards rushing were the most by an Elon running back since A.J. Harris ran for 163 yards at Chattanooga on Oct. 30, 2010… The 100-yard rushing effort was the second of Summers’ career (120 at William & Mary in 2016)… Messer has had 10 or more tackles in all three games this season… The Phoenix has now defeated a top-25 program in consecutive years for the first time since the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
Up Next: Elon opens CAA Football action next Saturday with a 6 p.m. bout at Richmond.