ELON, N.C. – In yet another tight contest, the Elon University football team ran its winning streak to five games by downing the William & Mary Tribe by a 25-17 margin at Rhodes Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
In front of a Family Weekend crowd of 10,137, Elon improved to 5-1 for the first time since that 2009 campaign and is now 3-0 in CAA Football play. William & Mary fell to 2-3, 0-2 on the season.
The Phoenix defense recorded seven sacks, including one for a safety. It marked the most sacks by an Elon team since posting eight in a win over Georgia Southern in 2009.
Quotable: “It’s a great team win. Tremendous effort. I’m really happy for the guys. 5-1, we’ve got a bye week, we’ve got a chance to rest up and heal a little bit, with the goal being to have a strong second half to the season. We had a nice lead at halftime. We wanted to come out and play one play at a time and kind of impose our will, but that didn’t really happen. I give William & Mary a lot of credit, they put a couple of drives together and they were driving again to take the lead. I can’t say enough about our defense. When the chips are down, the way they come through and make plays, just time and time and time again. And that’s what happened here and then the offense made a play and got the ball out there a little bit and we punted them down … and got the safety. We were great on third down. Dre (Dondre) Howell, Marcus Willoughby putting a lot of pressure on the quarterback, other guys, too.” – head coach Curt Cignetti.
How it happened: With the Phoenix holding a 23-17 lead, the Tribe ate up nearly 7:30 of clock in the fourth quarter only to see a promising drive end with a missed field goal at the Elon 14-yard line. Elon would be forced to punt on the ensuing possession, the kick being downed at the three with 4:26 to play.
Facing third-and-10 from the three, Warren Messer was able to break through the line and elude the running back to get to the Tribe quarterback for a safety.
William & Mary got the ball back one last time, starting a drive at its 43 with just 18 seconds to play. After an 18-yard completion moved the ball to the Elon 43, the Tribe faced second-and-10 with two seconds remaining. Brandon Battle dropped back to pass and had to run away from Phoenix defenders before Willoughby brought the quarterback down to end the game.
Elon jumped on top in the first quarter. After forcing a Tribe punt, the Phoenix took over at its own 17-yard line. On Elon’s first play of the game, Davis Cheek connected with Cole Taylor for a 50-yard pass to get to the William & Mary 33. From there, Malcolm Summers carried the ball three times, the last one a 20-yard run to the end zone to give the Phoenix a 6-0 lead.
After the Phoenix made it a 9-0 game thanks to an Owen Johnson 22-yard field goal, Dondre Howell sacked the Tribe’s quarterback and forced a fumble that was recovered by Johnathan Jackson. Jackson returned the ball to the W&M 25-yard line. After moving to the one, Summers plunged in again for his sixth career rushing touchdown against the Tribe, this one upping the lead to 16-0.
William & Mary got on the board thanks to a Kris Hooper 40-yard field goal with exactly five minutes left in the half before Elon would take over at its 35 with 51 seconds left after a Greg Liggs, Jr. interception. On the third play of the possession, Cheek scrambled and picked up a block from De’Sean McNair that allowed him to race 18 yards to the end zone as Elon built a 23-3 edge at halftime.
The Tribe chipped away in the third quarter, scoring once on a one-yard pass from Brandon Battle to Riley Wilson before pulling within six points when Nate Evans capped a 67-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run with just over a minute to go in the period.
Elon – Malcolm Summers (17 carries, 81 yards, 2 TDs)
W&M – Nate Evans (19 carries, 77 yards, 1 TD)
Elon – Davis Cheek (12-16, 179 yards)
W&M – Brandon Battle (11-21, 155 yards, 1 TD)
Elon – Kortez Weeks (6 receptions, 66 yards)
W&M – Isaiah Kinder (4 receptions, 61 yards)
Elon – T.J. Speight (10 tackles, 0.5 TFL, 1 QBH)
W&M – Nate Atkins (9 tackles)
Noteworthy: Malcolm Summers saw his streak of 100-yard rushing games snapped at three… William & Mary’s second quarter fumble that was recovered by Elon marked the first fumble lost by the Tribe this season… Elon’s safety was its first since 2009.
Up Next: Elon will return to action after a bye week by traveling to Rhode Island for a noon game on Oct. 21.