ELON, N.C. – At noon on Saturday at Rhodes Stadium, the 11th-rated Elon University football team will play host to top-ranked James Madison in a contest that will decide the CAA Football champion. Prior to the game, Elon will honor 10 players in a Senior Day ceremony.
Fans can watch the game for free on Phoenix All-Access. 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 Dan Wyar will call the action. The pregame radio coverage will begin at 11 a.m.
CHAMPIONSHIP AND PLAYOFF AUTOMATIC BID SCENARIOS
With a victory on Saturday, the Phoenix (8-2, 6-1) would clinch a share of the 2017 league title as the maroon and gold tied would be tied with the Dukes (10-0, 7-0). A win by the Stony Brook Seawolves (8-2, 6-1) over Maine could create a three-way tie at the top of the conference standings. In the event of a three-way tie, league tie-breaking regulations would award the automatic bid to the FCS Playoffs to James Madison. Elon would claim the automatic bid with a win over JMU and a Stony Brook loss.
SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
7:00 a.m. – Parking lots open
9:40 a.m. – Shuttle bus service begins
10:30 p.m. – Ticket windows, bag check and gates open
10:30 p.m. – Phun Zone opens
11:45 a.m. – Fire of the Carolinas performs / National anthem
11:45 a.m. – Letterwinner’s Lounge opens in the Walker Room of Alumni Field House
11:59 a.m. – Elon takes the field
12:03 p.m. – Kickoff of Elon vs. James Madison
BAG POLICY AT RHODES STADIUM
Elon University has implemented a policy for bags entering Rhodes Stadium. All bags entering the stadium will be checked before fans reach the ticket booths at the facility. Multiple lines will be available and there will be specific lines for fans entering with no bags.
The following items will be prohibited from Rhodes Stadium:
* Alcoholic beverages
• Outside food and beverages
• Smoking and tobacco products
• Containers or coolers
• Flags on poles
• Bicycles, skateboards or rollerblades
• Pets (except service animals)
FOOTBALL GAME DAY
For more information on ticketing, parking and directions to Rhodes Stadium, please visit the Football Game Day web page.
GAME DAY PROGRAMS
For the second straight year, Elon will offer a digital game program that includes rosters, stats and video features. Make sure you are prepared for the game by utilizing the digital program.
PHAST PHIVE PHOENIX PHACTS
• Elon saw its eight-game winning streak, its longest since a 10-game streak that spanned the 1981-82 seasons, come to a close with a 16-6 loss at #16 New Hampshire last week
• The Wildcats held the Phoenix to its lowest rushing output of the year as the maroon and gold failed to run for at least 100 yards for the first time all season
• The Phoenix set a season high with eight sacks in the loss at UNH; Elon’s previous high was seven in a win over William & Mary
• A win over James Madison would secure Elon a share of its first conference title at the FCS level
• Elon is looking to lock up just its second ever berth in the FCS Playoffs; The other came in 2009
SENIOR DAY RECOGNITION
Elon will recognize 10 players of part of pregame Senior Day ceremonies – offensive lineman Graham Albright, defensive lineman Josh Armstrong, defensive back Chris Blair, defensive back Malcolm Galloway, defensive lineman Nick Groll, defensive lineman Dondre Howell, linebacker Johnathan Jackson, defensive back Jack Landry, wide receiver Tre Lennon and offensive lineman Ikenna Nwokeji.
Elon trails the all-time series with James Madison by a 5-0 margin. The first meeting between the two came in 1998 with JMU picking up a 19-12 victory. This will be just the second meeting at Rhodes Stadium.
THE BIG 5-0-0
Now in its 96th season, the Elon football program is eraned its 500th all-time victory with a 35-34 decision over Rhode Island on Oct. 21, 2017. Elon has an all-time record of 502-445-18 (.530).
FIRST-YEAR HEAD COACH
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.
THE FAMILY BUSINESS
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 had his streak of 42 consecutive starts snapped in the contest with Towson. Udoh’s streak has reached 32 games and Toogood’s is at 21 contests. Toogood has made total of 29 career starts. Blair has started 41 straight games and Howell is at 21.
Other players who have started double digit games are offensive linemen Alex Higgins (26 total, three consecutive) and Matt Kowalewski (13 total, 10 consecutive), tight end Matt Foster (13 total, five consecutive), wide receivers Corey Joyner (24 total, 10 consecutive), Tre Lennon (24 total, four consecutive) and Kortez Weeks (10 total, 10 consecutive), running back Malcolm Summers (10 total), quarterbacks Daniel Thompson (16 total) and Davis Cheek (10 total, 10 consecutive), defensive linemen Nick Groll (14 total), Daniel Everett (10 total) and Tristen Cox(10 total, 10 consecutive), linebackers Johnathan Jackson (16 total), Warren Messer (18 total, 10 consecutive) and Matt Baker (15 total, three consecutive) and defensive backs Greg Liggs Jr. (11 total), Tyler Campbell (10 total, 10 consecutive) and Daniel Reid-Bennett (10 total, 10 consecutive).
ELON REMAINS RANKED IN NATIONAL POLLS
After seeing its eight-game winning streak, that includes four victories over ranked opponents, snapped, the Elon football team remained in the top 15 in the national polls on Monday, Nov. 13. The Phoenix dropped to #11 in the STATS FCS Poll, and moved #15 in the FCS Coaches Poll this week.
Junior linebacker Warren Messer was added to the watch list for the Buck Buchanan Award on Oct. 18. Messer currently leads Elon with 96 total tackles. He has 10.0 tackles for a loss, including 5.5 sacks, and has intercepted two passes. He ranks 22nd nationally, and second in the conference, with 9.6 tackles per game.
Freshman quarterback Davis Cheek was named to the initial watch list for the Jerry Rice Award on Oct. 25. Cheek has completed 158 of his 262 passes for 2,105 yards and 14 touchdowns. He is 31st nationally and fourth in the league with a passing efficiency mark of 140.1. Among freshmen, he is third nationally in passing yards, third in passing yards per game and second in passing efficiency.
After going 2-9 overall a year ago, the Phoenix has engineered a six-game improvement in the win column in 2017, tied for the second-best turnaround in program history. The largest improvement was an eight-game difference from 1979 (five wins) to 1980 (13 wins). Elon also had a six-game difference from 1975 (five wins) to 1976 (11 wins).
DOWN TO THE WIRE
The Phoenix has won eight games this season, but its largest margin of victory in those eight games is just eight points. Elon’s eight victories have come by a combined 31 points. Five of the eight 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, recorded a sack on the last play to defeat William & Mary and kicked a field goal in double overtime to beat Towson. Elon also had to hold off a final Rhode Island drive, intercepting a pass at its own 19 with 28 seconds left.