KINGSTON, R.I. – In a game that witnessed seven lead changes, the 14th-ranked Elon University football team picked up a hard-fought 35-34 victory over the Rhode Island Rams at Meade Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 21. The win was the 500th in the history of the Elon program.
Elon, which ran its winning streak to six games, now sits at 6-1 overall and is 4-0 in CAA Football play. URI dropped to 1-6, 0-4 as the Phoenix spoiled Homecoming.
The Phoenix got strong offensive performances from multiple players. Davis Cheek threw for a career-best 331 yards and three touchdowns, while De’Sean McNair had a personal-best 126 rushing yards and two scores. Corey Joyner also set a new career-high, catching eight balls for 185 yards and a score.
How it happened: Heading to the fourth quarter, Elon found itself on the wrong side of a 34-28 score. On a drive that began late in the third period, Elon marched 68 yards on 10 plays to go in front for good. On fourth-and-two from the URI 37, McNair busted through the line for a gain of 21 yards. After getting to the one, McNair plunged in for his second rushing score of the day. After the PAT, Elon held a 35-34 edge.
After an Elon drive stalled deep in URI territory, the Rams got one more shot to try and win the game. Starting at their own 20-yard line with 3:59 to play, URI moved to the Elon 21 after a 12-yard pass from JaJuan Lawson to Khayri Denny. On third-and-six, Lawson’s pass was picked off by Warren Messer, allowing the Phoenix to run out the clock for the victory.
Elon got the ball to start the game and quickly marched 54 yards in just five plays to take a 7-0 lead when McNair ran it in from eight yards out. The big play of the drive was a 36-yard toss from Cheek to Joyner.
After the Rams tied it on their first possession of the game, the Phoenix would take a 14-7 lead to the second quarter after an 11-play, 75-yard drive that was capped by a seven-yard pass from Cheek to Cole Taylor. Joyner also had receptions of 30 and 19 yards on the drive.
The Rams ate up much of the second-quarter clock with a 16-play, 96-yard drive. URI converted two third downs on the drive, including a 12-yard run by Lawson, to keep the chains moving. The drive reached the Elon seven after a 22-yard pass to Marven Beauvais and three plays later, T.J. Anderson leaped over the pile for a touchdown. The PAT was no good, keeping the Phoenix in front by a 14-13 margin.
URI got the ball back after the kickoff was mishandled. Taking over at the Elon 19, the Rams scored on their second play, a 19-yard pass to Aaron Parker, to take the lead. Elon promptly answered as Cheek connected with Joyner on a 65-yard touchdown on the first play of the ensuing possession.
One final second-quarter score for the Rams put URI up 27-21 at halftime.
The Phoenix defense did not allow a score in the second half, as the lone URI touchdown was a 90-yard punt return.
Elon – De’Sean McNair (28 carries, 126 yards, 2 TD)
URI – JuJuan Lawson (16 carries, 80 yards)
Elon – Davis Cheek (23-34, 331 yards, 3 TD)
URI – JuJuan Lawson (20-34, 252 yards, 2 TD)
Elon – Corey Joyner (8 receptions, 185 yards, 1 TD)
URI – Marven Beauvais (5 receptions, 76 yards, 1 TD)
Elon – Daniel Reid-Bennett (9 tackles)
URI – Justin Hogan (9 tackles)
Noteworthy: Elon’s winning streak matches a six-game streak the Phoenix had in 2009… Cheek now has three games in which he has thrown three touchdowns… The win saw Elon’s third fourth-quarter comeback of the season… The Phoenix has secured its first winning regular season since 2010… Elon’s four CAA Football victories equal the number of league wins the program had over the past three seasons.
Up Next: Elon will remain on the road for a top-25 matchup with the Villanova Wildcats. Game time is set for 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 28, in Villanova, Pa.