ELON, N.C. – Both making their first collegiate starts, Jalen Greene and Jaylan Thomas combined for 258 yards on the ground and connecting for 27 more through the air on a touchdown pass to lead 11th-ranked Elon University football to a 38-28 victory Saturday, Oct. 20, at Rhodes Stadium over Richmond.
“This is a good win,” said Elon head coach Curt Cignetti. “All wins are good wins. I’m really happy for our guys. We’re 5-2, there’s a lot we can improve upon, but a lot of things we can build on too.”
Starting hot on offense, Greene took an option to the left side of the offensive line on the first drive of the game and went 18 yards to the house to put the Phoenix (5-2, 3-1 CAA) up early. Thomas carried four times for 46 yards on the opening drive to help setup the score. One drive later, Greene went over the top to Corey Joyner for 60 yards – the longest passing play of the year for the Phoenix – to answer a 66-yard touchdown pass by the Spiders on the previous drive.
Though Richmond (3-5, 1-4 CAA) answered each time, the Phoenix took a 21-14 lead to halftime with Thomas streaking 22 yards to the house for his first touchdown of the day. After halftime, Thomas added a second touchdown with a 30-yard grab on third-and-12 to put Elon up 35-21. On the previous drive, Thomas ran 26 yards to the 1-yard line and was initially ruled in the end zone before replay overturned the call. One play later, De’Sean McNair plunged in to give Elon the lead for good at 28-21.
Early in the fourth quarter, Richmond put together a comeback attempt with Joe Mancuso hitting Jarmal Bevins for a 40-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 35-28 with 8:48 to play, but the Phoenix defense held strong with Matt Baker converting Elon’s only sack of the day and Skyler Davis put the icing on the cake with a 37-yard field goal with 52 seconds to go.
Elon: Jaylan Thomas – 27 carries, 150 yards, 1 touchdown
UR: Aaron Dykes – 12 carries, 76 yards, 2 touchdowns
Elon: Jalen Greene – 7-11, 205 yards, 2 touchdowns
UR: Joe Mancuso – 12-28, 215 yards, 2 touchdowns
Elon: Corey Joyner – 2 receptions, 70 yards, 1 touchdown
UR: Caleb Drake – 3 receptions, 109 yards, 1 touchdown
Elon: Warren Messer – 9 tackles, 1.0 tackles for loss
UR: Daniel Jones – 14 tackles, 1 fumble recovery
-Now 3-0 at home for the second straight year, Curt Cignetti is the first coach in program history to start 3-0 at home in back-to-back seasons.
-Jalen Greene has completed the three longest passing plays of the season in consecutive weeks for the Phoenix. The longest is his completion to Corey Joyner Saturday after hitting Cole Taylor from 52 yards out last week at Delaware. He also hit Kortez Weeks for 52 yards in the second half against UR.
-Jaylan Thomas is the first true rookie running back to rush for 100 yards in a game since Thuc Phan on Sept. 15, 2012, when he ran for 110 yards on 15 carries against West Virginia State. Thomas has led Elon in rushing three times in seven games after leading the Phoenix in the first two games of the season.
-With 136 rushing yards in the first 26:15 of the game, Elon surpassed its rushing total of 113 in the game the week prior at Delaware.
-With a fumble lost in the third quarter, it marks the first time Elon has turned the ball over since Sept. 29 against New Hampshire.
Heading into the open date this week, Elon will next hit the field on Saturday, Nov. 3, for a 1:30 p.m. kickoff on homecoming at Rhodes Stadium against Rhode Island.