Courtesy of Elon Athletics
- A.J. Harris had a career day, rushing 31 times for 163 yards and four touchdowns and Joshua Jones scored the eventual game-winning TD on an interception return as Elon snapped 20th-ranked Chattanooga’s five-game winning streak with a 49-35 victory at Finley Stadium on Saturday. The win was the fifth consecutive in the series for Elon who improved to 3-5 on the season and 2-3 in the Southern Conference. UTC fell to 5-3, 4-2.
On the first play of the game, Chattanooga’s Chris Donald recovered a #Scott Riddle# fumble at the Elon 23-yard line. Five plays later, the Mocs put the first score on the board when B.J. Coleman found Joel Bradford in the back of the end zone for a 10-yard score with 12:51 to play in the first quarter. UTC’s J.J. Jackson carried for a total of 13 yards on the first three plays of the drive.
Elon started its next drive at its own 40 thanks to a 16-yard kickoff return by Lance Camp. Harris picked up 10 yards and a first down as he carried the ball on the first two plays. Riddle then completed his first pass of the day, an eight-yard gain to Camp. The next play went for another nine yards on a screen to Aaron Mellette. The Phoenix moved to the UTC 29 where Elon faced a third-and-six. Riddle looked to the end zone for Mellette, but the Mocs were flagged for pass interference that moved the ball to the UTC 14. Harris then rumbled in for the game-tying score with 10:27 left in the first period. The score was Elon’s first rushing touchdown since game two of the season.
The Mocs took the ball and had driven into Elon territory at the 30-yard line before Erroll Wynn’s fumble was recovered by the Phoenix’s Brandon Brant at the 20. Harris picked up 22 yards on the ground on the first play of the drive, moving Elon across midfield. The Phoenix gained another 15 yards on a Riddle pass to Sean Jeffcoat along the Elon sideline. On third-and-11 from the UTC 35, Riddle found Jeffcoat along the Mocs’ sideline for a 12-yard completion and a first down. Harris carried on the next three plays, gaining 15 yards to the UTC 12 before Riddle connected with Jeffcoat to the three. Harris found the end zone for the second time, running it in from three-yards out to give Elon a 14-7 advantage with just over three minutes to play in the first period.
UTC’s next drive was ended by Elon’s Chandler Wrightenberry who picked off a Coleman pass at the Elon 40 and returned it to the Chattanooga 41. Two #Dontay Taylor# gains of six yards were sandwiched around a nine-yard screen pass to Kierre Brown as the Phoenix moved the ball to the UTC 20 as the first quarter closed. The second period began with a Taylor rush of nine yards that set up a first-and-goal at the nine for Elon. On the next play, Taylor lost the ball and UTC’s Donald fell on the ball at the 13-yard line.
The Mocs could not take advantage of the Elon turnover and went three-and-out. Elon returned the favor and the Mocs began their next drive at their own 21. Coleman hit Bradford for a 24-yard gain on the first play of the drive and moved the ball to midfield before Jones tipped a pass and Andrew Straus snared his first career interception at the Elon 29.
Facing a third-and-five from its own 34, Riddle went deep to Mellette. The ball looked as if it would be overthrown, but UTC was flagged for its second pass interference penalty of the day and Elon’s drive stayed alive with a first down at its own 49. After a sack, Riddle completed a screen to Mellette who went for 15 yards and a first down thanks in part to a solid block by Camp. After Elon moved to the Mocs 25, Harris scored his third rushing touchdown of the day on a 25-yard scamper around the right end as the Phoenix built a 21-7 lead with 7:38 remaining in the first half.
Elon upped its edge to 28-7 after Riddle hit Jeffcoat on a 40-yard completion that capped a four-play, 80-yard drive. The drive began with a rush of eight yards by Harris before Riddle hit Camp for 19 yards to the Elon 47. After yet another pass interference penalty on the Mocs, Elon set up at the UTC 40 and Riddle then found Jeffcoat for the score.
UTC used the most of its next possession, marching 78 yards on 11 plays for a touchdown to make it 28-14 with 1:05 to play. On third-and-four from their own 37, Coleman found Brian Sutherland for nine yards and a first down. The Mocs then picked up 15 yards on third-and-10 to get into Elon territory at the 48-yard line on a completion to Bradford. Bradford picked up another 11 on the next play as the Mocs moved to the Phoenix’s 37. On third-and-five, Marlon Anthony grabbed a seven-yard reception to the 25. On the next play, Coleman found Anthony for the 25-yard score to make it a 28-14 game.
Elon got the ball back with just over a minute to play in the first half, but did not take its foot off the gas, marching 75 yards on just three plays to regain its 21-point cushion. Riddle found Harris for 11 yards on the first play before hitting Camp for another seven yards to move the ball to the Elon 43-yard line. On the next play, Riddle dropped back and found a streaking Jeffcoat along the left hashes for a 57-yard connection and score. It was Elon’s longest completion of the season and was Riddle’s 100th career touchdown toss.
The Phoenix racked up 331 yards of total offense in the first 30 minutes, including 111 rushing yards by Harris. Riddle threw for 215 yards in the period, the 38th time in his career in which he eclipsed the 200-yard mark.
Chattanooga got the ball at its own 13 to start the second half of play and drove 87 yards on 11 plays for a touchdown. The Mocs faced a third-and-three from the 15 when Coleman hit Jackson for nine yards. Two plays later, Bradford hauled in a 12-yard reception to move to the UTC 41 before Keon Williams rushed for another 13 yards to move the ball to the Elon 46. On second-and-three, Coleman found Chris Awuah for 14 yards to the Elon 25. After a gain of 18 to Sutherland to the seven, Coleman found an open Bradford in the middle of the end zone for the score to make it a 35-21 game with 10:41 showing on the clock in the third quarter.
UTC got the ball back at its own 21 after a Harris fumble. Awuah promptly gained 11 yards on a reception for a first down at the 32. Coleman then hit Bradford for another 31 yards as the Mocs moved to the Elon 37. Facing third-and-four from the 32, Williams rushed for a first down at the Elon 24. Garrett Hughes picked up nine yards on the next play before Williams gained just enough for a first down at the 14. The Mocs moved to the eight on a six-yard pass to Sutherland. A false start penalty moved the ball back to the 13 and an incomplete pass brought up a third-and-nine. Coleman tried to hit a screen to Awuah on third down, but the ball fell incomplete. The Mocs would go for it on fourth down and Coleman’s pass into the end zone was knocked away by Terell Wilson.
After forcing Elon to punt, the Mocs started their next drive at their own 43. The first play from scrimmage was a reverse run by Sutherland who scampered for 18 yards to the Elon 39. The fourth quarter began with the ball at the Elon 22 and Chattanooga needing nine yards for a first down. On third-and-nine Coleman found Sutherland in the back left corner of the end zone for his fourth TD toss of the game. The PAT pulled UTC within seven at 35-28 with 14:48 left in the fourth quarter.
Kierre Brown was hit on the ensuing kickoff return and fumbled the ball at the Elon 20 which was recovered by Chattanooga’s Sloan Allison at the 20. On the first play after the turnover, Hughes grabbed the screen pass and went in for the score. After the successful PAT, UTC had eliminated its 21-point deficit and even the score at 35-35 with 14:35 to play.
The Phoenix went three-and-out on its next possession and the Mocs took over at the UTC 30. On the first play, Elon’s Jones picked off Coleman and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown to put Elon back on top 42-35 with 13:13 left on the clock.
Coleman’s next pass was picked off by Blake Thompson who brought the ball back 37 yards to the UTC five. Riddle ran four yards to the one before Harris picked up the final yard for his fourth TD of the game. Adam Shreiner’s PAT gave Elon a 49-35 lead with 12:13 to play.
UTC converted a third-and-10 with a 15-yard completion to Bradford that moved the ball to the Chattanooga 46. After a Coleman-to-Bradford connection set up fourth-and-inches at the Elon 45, Coleman ran the quarterback sneak for a first down at the Elon 43. Two plays later, UTC had a first down at the Elon 30. UTC would face a third-and-eight from the Elon 28 when Brandon Ward tipped a Coleman pass and Travis Greene ended up with Elon’s fifth interception of the game.
Riddle ended the day by completing 21-of-29 pass attempts for 260 yards and two touchdowns. Elon ended the day with 173 rushing yards on 44 attempts. Jeffcoat finished the game with seven catches for a career-best 154 yards and two scores.
Chattanooga’s Coleman completed 33-of-63 pass attempts for 386 yards and five touchdowns, but was also picked off a career-high five times in the loss. Bradford, the nation’s leading receiver, finished with 11 catches for 152 yards and two scores.
The two teams combined for 994 yards on 168 offensive plays.
Brandon Wiggins made 12 tackles while Wilson finished with 10 stops to lead Elon. Elon’s five interceptions were by five different Phoenix players.
Chattanooga’s Ryan Consiglio led all players with 16 total tackles.
Up next for Elon is a trip to The Citadel on Saturday, Nov. 6. Kickoff is slated for 2 p.m. in Charleston, S.C.