GREENSBORO, N.C. – No. 21 Elon University football answered a halftime deficit to tie the game heading to the fourth quarter, but No. 19 North Carolina A&T hit a 52-yard field goal as time expired Saturday, Aug. 31, at BB&T Stadium to top the Phoenix 24-21 in the season opener for both teams.
“It was a good football game. Hats off to Coach (Sam) Washington and his team, he’s got a really good football program,” said Elon head coach Tony Trisciani. “I feel for our guys. They fought real hard. We’ve got a gritty football team and we’ve got a four-quarter football team. This is going to hurt. I told the guys, ‘Don’t forget what this feels like.’ We’ve got 24 hours before we turn the page, and this game will not define our football team.”
Elon put together three lengthy touchdown drives throughout the night, each lasting nearly or longer than five minutes apiece with double-digit plays and 69-plus yards.
On its second drive of the game, Elon drove 69 yards on 10 plays with De’Sean McNair shifting through the offensive line to the end zone from five yards out. Davis Cheek completed all four of his attempted passes for 63 yards, including 28- and 17-yard completions to Matt Foster to set McNair up with first-and-goal on the six.
Following 14 quick points to give the Aggies a 14-7 lead at halftime, Elon came out of the locker room and put back-to-back touchdown drives together with McNair scoring from two yards out and Cheek hitting Kortez Weeks on third-and-five from 14 yards out to tie the game at 21. The scores capped 75-yard drives that lasted 5:13 and 4:59 of game action, respectively.
In the fourth quarter, Aggies’ kicker Noel Ruiz missed a 43-yard field goal with 10:07 to go and a 40-yard field goal with 2:35 to play to keep the game tied at 21. But after Elon took over following the second miss, the Aggies’ defense drove Elon backward and the Phoenix was forced to punt. After an incomplete pass to the end zone that fell incomplete with one second remaining, Ruiz hit his 52-yard attempt to give North Carolina A&T the victory.
Elon: Brelynd Cyphers – 4 carries, 30 yards
North Carolina A&T: Martin – 21 carries, 54 yards, 1 touchdown
Elon: Davis Cheek – 16/27, 202 yards, 1 touchdown
North Carolina A&T: Kylil Carter – 16/27 193 yards, 2 touchdowns
Elon: Kortez Weeks – 4 receptions, 41 yards, 1 touchdown
North Carolina A&T: Elijah Bell – 9 receptions, 93 yards, 1 touchdown
Elon: Jarquez Bizzell – 9 tackles, 6 solo, 1 TFL
North Carolina A&T: Jermaine McDaniel – 8 tackles, 3.0 TFL, 3.0 sacks
-Elon scored three times on drives of 10-plus plays. For comparison, Elon had 11 scoring drives of 10-plus plays in 2018 and had four such drives over the course of the final five games of the season.
-De’Sean McNair’s multi-score game is the fourth outing of his career in which he’s found the end zone more than once.
-Jarquez Bizzell led the team with nine tackles, including 1.0 TFL. He’s now posted nine tackles – which ties a career high – and one for loss in consecutive games since moving from safety to linebacker ahead of the 2018 FCS playoffs.
-Kortez Weeks’ touchdown reception marks the first for the junior since Oct. 21, 2017, at Rhode Island after not catching a touchdown pass in 2018.
-Davis Cheek has now attempted 138 consecutive passes without throwing an interception. His last interception came in the 2018 season opener at USF.
-Saturday’s game marked the only Top 25 game at the FCS level on the weekend.
Set to host its annual Hall of Fame Weekend, Elon will host The Citadel on Saturday, Sept. 7, at 2 p.m. inside Rhodes Stadium. Elon and The Citadel will meet for the first time since the 2013 season. Elon has won four of the last six against the Bulldogs going back to the 2008 campaign.