Elon Football Returns to Action With Game at Rhode Island

ELON, N.C. – After an open date last weekend, the Elon University football team returns to the gridiron this weekend for a CAA Football bout at Rhode Island. Game time is scheduled for 12 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 21, at URI’s Meade Stadium. The Phoenix will be looking for its sixth consecutive victory.


Fans can watch the game live through College Sports Live for a fee. Phoenix faithful can also listen to the game on WSJS 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 11 a.m.

• Elon extend its longest winning streak since 2009 to five games with a 25-17 victory over William & Mary.
• The Phoenix has recorded 11 sacks in its last two games – four vs. Albany and seven vs. William & Mary.
• A win over Rhode Island would give Elon its 500th victory in program history.
• With a win at URI, Elon would secure its first winning season since going 6-5 in 2010.
• Now ranked in the top 15 of both national polls, Elon has achieved its highest ranking since being rated 10th in late September of 2010.

The only other meeting between Elon and Rhode Island occurred last season at Elon’s Rhodes Stadium. The Rams knocked off the Phoenix by a 44-14 margin.

Elon’s lone tie with the state of Rhode Island comes from offensive line coach Damian Wroblewski. Wroblewski began his coaching career at Bryant University. In his time there, Wroblewski served as the offensive coordinator, offensive line coach and recruiting coordinator.

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 499-444-18 (.529) and needs just one win 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 40 consecutive starts, while Udoh’s streak is at 28 games and Toogood’s is at 17 contests. Toogood has made total of 25 career starts. Blair has started 37 straight games and Howell is at 17.

Other players who have started double digit games are offensive lineman Alex Higgins (23 total), wide receiver Corey Joyner (20 total, six consecutive), wide receiver Tre Lennon (20 total), running back Malcolm Summers (10 total, four consecutive), quarterback Daniel Thompson (16 total), defensive linemen Nick Groll (14 total) and Daniel Everett (10 total) and linebackers Johnathan Jackson (16 total), Warren Messer (14 total, six consecutive) and Matt Baker (12 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.

Riding a five-game winning streak that includes three consecutive victories over ranked opponents, the Elon football team continued its rise in the national polls on Monday, Oct. 16. The Phoenix climbed from #16 to #14 in the STATS FCS Poll, and moved from #20 to #15 in the FCS Coaches Poll this week. At 5-1, Elon is off to its best start since 2009.

The Phoenix is riding a five-game winning streak, but its largest margin ov victory in those five games is just eight points. Four of the five games came down to a final play as Elon hit a field goal with just five seconds remaining to win at Furman, partially blocked a 51-yard field goal attempt on the final play to hold off Charleston Southern, batted down a pass on the final play to shutout Albany and record a sack on the last play to defeat William & Mary.

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 WSJS 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.