Johnson Boots No. 7 Elon Football Past Towson in Overtime

ELON, N.C. – The Elon University football team erased an early 10-point deficit and then picked up its eighth consecutive victory when Owen Johnson booted a 26-yard field goal in the second overtime to lift the No. 7 Phoenix to a 33-30 Homecoming win over the Towson Tigers at Rhodes Stadium.


Elon now sits at 8-1 overall and is 6-0 in CAA Football play with two weeks remaining in the regular season. Towson, playing its fifth straight top-25 opponent, fell to 3-6, 1-5 on the year.

Quotable: “A great team win. Kind of an unbelievable game, I really can’t even describe it. They got off to a fast start and then we responded and took total control, we scored 27 straight points and had opportunities to score more. But we weren’t just quite capitalizing on our opportunities. Then they hit that big third-down conversion when the game seemed like it was over and that gave them life, and all of a sudden they went on a roll and we started making mistakes like we did against Charleston Southern at the end of the game. And it wasn’t looking real good there for a while, but to our guys’ credit, they find a way. I’m proud of them. We have great team chemistry. You’ve got to be a really good team to withstand those kinds of things.” – Elon head coach Curt Cignetti

How it happened: Towson forced overtime after erasing a 17-point, fourth-quarter deficit when Aidan O’Neill hit a 27-yard field goal with 1:20 to play.

The Phoenix went on offense first in overtime and moved to the 10-yard line before Johnson connected on a 28-yard field goal to give Elon a 30-27 advantage. Towson was forced to try a 46-yard field goal following a sack by Chris Blair, but O’Neill handled the pressure kick and knotted the game at 30 to force a second overtime period.

Towson moved to the Elon 16 when O’Neill’s 33-yard field goal try was blocked by a leaping Dondre Howell, keeping the score level. The Phoenix turned to De’Sean McNair for its final drive. McNair toted the ball six times for 11 yards and caught a pass for nine yards to move the maroon and gold to the five. After taking a knee to center the ball, Johnson calmly sent his 26-yard kick through the uprights for his third game-winning kick of the season.

After Towson jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, Elon would score the next 27 points. It began with six-play, 65-yard drive that ended with McNair running it in from a yard out. He accounted for 40 yards on the drive.

The Phoenix would carry a 14-10 advantage into halftime after Davis Cheek capped a 10-play, 80-yard drive with an eight-yard touchdown pass to Tre Marsh. Brelynd Cyphers carried much of the load on that drive, running the ball four times for 53 yards.

Elon looked like it would pull away for good in the third quarter as the Phoenix held Towson to just 12 offensive yards in the period. The Phoenix added 10 points to its edge in the quarter, first putting up seven points on a Cyphers five-yard run before Johnson drilled a 32-yard field goal to make it 24-10.

After Johnson’s 19-yard field goal pushed it to a 17-point Elon lead, the Tigers began to rally. On the ensuing possession, Towson converted a third-and-11 with a 35-yard pass from Ryan Stover to Jabari Greenwood to move the ball to the Elon 31-yard line. After a 12-yard completion to Greenwood set Towson up at the six, Stover would hit Jabari Allen for a touchdown to make it 27-17.

On Elon’s next drive, a punt snap was mishandled with the punter brought down at the Elon 40 to give the ball back to the Tigers. Two plays later, Stover hit Shane Leatherbury for a 39-yard touchdown strike to cut the Phoenix lead to just three.

Towson got the ball back with 3:00 to play needing a field goal to tie. The drive started at the Tigers’ own 30 and moved across the 40 after two plays. A 27-yard connection from Stover to Greenwood moved the ball into Elon territory as Towson was set up at the Elon 32-yard line. A 14-yard dash by Kobe Young moved it to the 18 and a Stover carry got the ball to the nine before O’Neill hit his 27-yard field goal.

Stat Leaders:

Elon – Brelynd Cyphers (14 carries, 129 yards, 1 TD)
Towson – Kobe Young (11 carries, 90 yards)

Elon – Davis Cheek (20-33, 271 yards, 1 TD)
Towson – Ryan Stover (22-41, 303 yards, 2 TDs)

Elon – Kortez Weeks (9 receptions, 139 yards)
Towson – Shane Leatherbury (8 receptions, 109 yards, 1 TD)

Elon – Warren Messer (8 tackles, 2 QBH)
Towson – Mitch Boals (13 tackles)

Noteworthy: Both Brelynd Cyphers and De’Sean McNair ran for over 100 yards, marking the first time since 2009 that Elon has had two backs eclipse the century Mark (Jamal Shuman – 190 and A.J. Harris – 114 at Presbyterian)… Kortez Weeks exceeded the 100-yard receiving mark for the second straight game… Elon’s eight-game winning streak is the fourth-longest single-season streak in program history and is tied for the seventh-longest overall streak in program history… The Rhodes Stadium crowd of 10,113 was the fifth-largest Homecoming crowd in the facility’s history… Elon’s four home wins are the most since going 4-1 at Rhodes Stadium in 2010.

Up Next: Elon will head back on the road next weekend for a Nov. 11 contest at New Hampshire. Game time is scheduled for 2 p.m. for a contest that will be broadcast on Fox Sports Go.