RICHMOND, Va. – For the second straight week Malcolm Summers did the heavy lifting on offense as he carried the ball 40 times for 294 yards to help the Elon University football team to a 36-33 victory over the sixth-rated Richmond Spiders in the CAA Football opener for both squads.
The win, Elon’s first in eight tries against Richmond, ran the Phoenix’s winning streak to three games, its longest since 2011, and improved the squad to 3-1 overall and 1-0 in league play. The Spiders fell to 2-2, 0-1.
Quotable: “Great team victory. Our guys would not be denied in the fourth quarter. That’s what we talked about at halftime, our relentlessness and resiliency, our mental toughness and fortitude. We lost the lead. We were down seven and our guys stepped it up a notch and we made the plays at the end of the game we had to make. It’s a great win for the guys. I feel really great for them, and I’m proud of them and the coaches, too. We’ll enjoy it tonight and get ready for the next one tomorrow.” – head coach Curt Cignetti.
How it happened: Elon built a 19-7 lead in the first half after a pair of touchdown passes from Davis Cheekto Tre Marsh and a pair of Owen Johnson field goals. Richmond would cut it to 19-14 with 1:04 left in the second quarter when Dejon Brissett hauled in a 47-yard pass from Kyle Lauletta.
The Spiders came out hot in the second half, scoring 10 points on their first two possessions of the half to take a 23-19 edge. From there, it was a back-and-forth affair. Elon drove 57 yards on four plays, including a 45-yard run from Summers on the second play of the drive, to regain the lead, 26-23, on a Brelynd Cyphers one-yard plunge.
On the next possession, Richmond drove 54 yards to tie the game on a Griffin Trau 34-yard field goal with just over 2:30 left in the third quarter.
After the Phoenix went three-and-out, the Spiders began a drive at its 30-yard line. On third-and-eight at their 32, Lauletta hit Brissett for 13 yards. A 17-yard completion from Lauletta to Garrett Hudson moved the chains again on third down. Two plays later, Tyler Wilkins ran it in from 32 yards out to make it a 33-26 Spider lead.
Elon again answered, driving 63 yards on eight plays to even it at 33. The drive began at the Elon 37 before Cheek hit Kortez Weeks for 13 yards to midfield. Summers toted the ball for 10 yards on the next play before the Phoenix converted a third-and-five with a 23-yard pass to Tre Lennon. On second-and-10 from the Richmond 12, Cheek faked a pitch to Summers and the Spider defense bit, leaving Matt Foster open in the end zone for the tying score.
On the third play of the next drive, Dondre Howell tipped a ball in the air and Warren Messer picked off the pass to give the ball back to the Phoenix at the Richmond 22. Elon would turn that into three points when Johnson drilled a 32-yarder to give the maroon and gold the lead for good.
The Spiders mounted one final push, driving to the Elon 26-yard line. On third-and-one, Messer and Chris Blaircombined to stop the run for no gain. Richmond lined up for the fourth-down try and was again denied as the running back slipped in the backfield for a loss of two yards, giving the ball back to Elon with 3:43 left to play.
After picking up a first down following three Summers runs, the junior workhorse broke off a 41-yard dash. One more first down by the Phoenix sealed the game as Elon took two knees to end it.
Elon – Malcolm Summers (40 carries, 294 yards)
Richmond – Tyler Wilkins (1 carry, 32 yards, 1 TD)
Elon – Davis Cheek (13-19, 134 yards, 3 TD)
Richmond – Kyle Lauletta (27-47, 497 yards, 3 TD)
Elon – Kortez Weeks (4 receptions, 23 yards)
Richmond – Cortrelle Simpson (10 receptions, 192 yards, 1 TD)
Elon – Warren Messer (15 tackles, 1.0 sack, 1.5 TFL, 1 FF, 1 INT, 1 PBU)
Richmond – Micah Keels (12 tackles, 1 FR, 1 PBU)
Noteworthy: With Richmond ranked sixth, the win matched the highest-rated opponent that Elon has defeated at the NCAA FCS level (#6 Wofford in 2007)… The Phoenix won back-to-back games against top-25 opponents for the first time since 2008 (#15 Furman and #21 The Citadel)… Summers recorded the third 100-yard game of his career… He became the first Elon player to rush for 100 or more yards in back-to-back games since Jamal Shuman in 2009… Summers also became the first Elon back to run for 200 or more yards since Rashaud Palmer ran for 245 yards in 2002… Blair recorded eight tackles, making him the 10th player in program history to eclipse the 300-tackle mark for his career (302).
Up Next: Elon returns to Rhodes Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 30, for a 2 p.m. bout with league member Albany.