Elon Football Phoenix Defeats Davidson in 2021 Spring Opener, 26-23

ELON, N.C. – A touchdown pass from Joey Baughman to Donovan Williams with 32 seconds left helped the No. 21 Elon University football team to a 26-23 victory over Davidson in the Phoenix’s 2021 spring season opener on Saturday, Feb. 20, at Rhodes Stadium.


“It was a great win for our football team,” said head coach Tony Trisciani. “I’m proud of the guys for how resilient they were and how they believed in each other and how we fought for four quarters. We overcame a lot of adversity, never gave and we fought to the end and got the win.”

Baughman threw 18-of-22 for 173 yards and scored two total touchdowns in his first career start. Jaylan Thomas rushed for a game-high 129 yards and a score while Cole Coleman led the Phoenix defense with 17 total tackles.

The Rundown
After the Phoenix defense forced a Davidson turnover on downs on its own 25-yard line in the first at the 8:57 mark, Elon took the ball on a 14-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a Baughman eight-yard touchdown run with 1:32 left in the opening quarter.

The Phoenix’s Skyler Davis tacked on a field goal from 23 yards to put Elon ahead 9-0 at the 11:01 mark in the second. Davidson answered with a Dylan Sparks 32-yard rush to get on the Wildcats on the scoreboard to cut their deficit to 9-7 with 7:03 left in the second.

Davidson added another long rushing touchdown to take the lead with 3:48 left in the half as Coy Williams found the crease on a 30-yard run. Another Davis field goal with a minute left in the half closed Elon’s gap to 14-12, but Davidson scored a touchdown with nine seconds left in the half on a 36-yard reception from Jayden Waddell to go ahead 20-12 to close out the opening half.

Elon came out of the second half with a 48-yard rushing touchdown from Thomas to trim Davidson’s lead to 20-18 at the 13:04 mark in the third period. The Wildcats then capped off a 16-play, 56-yard drive with a 36-yard field goal to go up by five, 23-18, with 4:53 left in the third quarter.

The Wildcats continued to milk the clock in the final period, taking the ball from its own nine-yard line at the 12:36 mark all the way to the Phoenix’s 32 before Elon called a timeout with 2:57 remaining in the game on fourth and one. Needing to make a big play to get the ball back, the Phoenix’s defense stuffed Williams for no game on fourth down to return the ball back to the offense.

With the momentum swung in the Phoenix’s favor, Baughman took advantage with a 41-yard pass to Chandler Brayboy to get the maroon and gold into Wildcat territory. Another long run by Thomas, an 18-yard scamper, moved Elon to the two-yard line before Baughman found Williams for the game-winning touchdown on third down with 32 seconds left in the contest. Baughman converted the two-point conversion to give Elon the 26-23 lead that set as the final score.

• Williams caught five passes for 50 yards in his Elon debut after transferring to the program from UConn.
• This was the first meeting between the Phoenix and the Wildcats since 2009. It was also the third straight win for Elon over its intrastate foe.
• Thomas rushed for over 100 yards for the fourth time in his career. It’s the first 100-yard rushing game for the Carrollton, Ga., native since running for 135 yards against The Citadel in 2019.
• The 17 total tackles for Coleman was a new career-high for the junior. Redshirt junior Torrence Williams had a sack in the contest and forced a fumble.
• Coy Williams led the Wildcats on the ground with 113 yards on 17 carries while Tyler Phelps threw for 156 yards on 14-of-20 passing.

Up Next
The Phoenix travels to Gardner-Webb for its next contest on Saturday, Feb. 27. Kickoff for that matchup is set for 3 p.m.