Courtesy of Elon Athletics
- After trailing 10-7, the Elon Phoenix found the end zone on its next three possessions on its way to a 27-16 Southern Conference football victory over the home-standing Bulldogs of The Citadel on Saturday afternoon. Elon’s victory gave the Phoenix a three-game winning streak against the Bulldogs and improved the squads record to 4-5 overall and 3-3 in SoCon play. The Citadel fell to 2-8, 0-7.
“A lot of guys stepped up today,” said Elon head coach Pete Lembo. “That’s probably what I’m most excited about. A lot of different guys got thrust into this thing and played a lot of football today. And they certainly held their own and battled.”
Lembo added, “These kids, they just keep fighting. They just keep fighting. There’s something to them. For a lot of teams, you’d say there’s nothing to play for. But we’re playing hard and there’s a sense of purpose to them.”
Trailing 10-7, the Phoenix faced second-and-10 from its own 37 when Brandon Newsome provided the Elon offense with a spark, rushing for 25 yards into Bulldogs territory at the 38. Elon would convert a second-and-two with a 14-yard completion from Thomas Wilson to Sean Jeffcoat to the Bulldog 16. After a three-yard completion to Lance Camp and a four-yard rush by Newsome, Elon faced a third-and-three from the nine before Newsome bowled his way to the three and a Phoenix first down. Newsome carried it to the one on the next play before Wilson dove it in from a yard out for the second time on the day. The drive covered 63 yards in 3:58 as Elon regained the lead at 14-10 with 4:26 left in the third quarter.
Keith Gamble returned the ensuing kickoff 87 yards to the Elon seven and was only denied a touchdown thanks to a Jonathan Conner tackle. Terrell Dallas took the handoff on the first play of the drive and quickly put The Citadel back in front. The PAT was blocked and the Bulldogs held a 16-14 lead.
Camp’s 27-yard kickoff return gave the Phoenix the ball at its own 37 to begin the next drive. Elon would face a third-and-seven from the 40 before Wilson hit Jeffcoat for a 19-yard completion at the Bulldogs’ 41. Wilson would find Jeffcoat for another 14 yards on a second-and-eight as the Phoenix drove to the 25. On third-and-five Wilson scrambled for a gain of six and a first down at the 14-yard line. On third-and-one from the five Newsome was handed the ball and capped a 13-play, 63-yard drive with a touchdown run. Leading 20-16 with 13:15 to play, Elon went for two, but was unsuccessful.
Ben Dupree was chased out of the pocket and the quarterback raced for 12 yards on third-and-10 to keep a Bulldog drive alive at midfield. The Citadel moved to the Elon 35 on a 12-yard rush by Christian Robertson. Elon would force The Citadel into fourth-and-four at the 29 and the Phoenix stuffed the pitch play as Blake Thompson and Brandon Wiggins made the stop for no gain.
Elon faced a third-and-eight from its own 45 before Wilson’s screen pass to A.J. Harris went for 35 yards and gave the Phoenix a first down at the Bulldog 20. Three plays later The Citadel was flagged for pass interference, setting up a first-and-goal for Elon at the two. Newsome then carried across the goal line for his second rushing touchdown as Elon built a 27-16 advantage.
Elon took the opening kickoff and methodically chewed up 7:16 of game in thanks partially to eight rushes for 31 yards by Harris. The Phoenix marched the ball to the one-yard line before Wilson plunged in for the game’s first score to cap Elon’s most time-consuming drive of the season. The score was the second rushing TD of Wilson’s career. The longest play of the drive was a 12-yard Harris rush.
After taking possession at the Elon 46 early in the second quarter, The Citadel moved inside the Elon 20 after a 10-yard pick-up by Rickey Anderson and a three-yard rush by Terrell Dallas. Facing a third-and-nine from the 20, Elon stuffed the run and the Bulldogs lined up for a 35-yard field goal attempt. Alexander Wall took the snap and the Bulldogs executed the fake field goal with an 11-yard pass to Travis Ruff that gave The Citadel a first-and-goal at the Elon seven. The Phoenix defense would force a fourth-and-goal at the 10-yard line before the Bulldogs’ Ryan Sellers' 27-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Travis Greene and recovered by Elon’s Terell Wilson to give the Phoenix the ball at its own 14.
The Citadel faced a third-and-six at the Elon 37 before quarterback Dupree was flushed from the pocket and scrambled for a 14-yard gain and a first down at the 23-yard line. The Bulldogs earned another first-down at the 12 before losing three yards to the 15. Dupree was then chased out of the pocket again and made it to the three-yard line before he was stopped by Zach Henderson and Greene. The Bulldogs lost two yards on third down play and lined up for a 23-yard field goal. Sellers’ attempt split the uprights to get The Citadel on the board with 19.6 seconds remaining in the first half.
The Bulldogs got the ball at their own 25 to start the second half of play and quickly moved across midfield thanks to a 12-yard run by Anderson and a 17-yard gain by Terrance Martin. On third-and-six from the Elon 42, Anderson took a pitch and went around the left end for a gain of eight and a first down. Elon would force The Citadel into another third down, this one a third-and-nine from the 33. Elon allowed just a yard before the Bulldogs converted a fourth down with a 26-yard pass from Dupree to Luke Caldwell. Yet another third down arose, this one coming at the seven. The Citadel would find the end zone when Dupree pitched to Robertson who ran around the left end for an eight-yard score as the Bulldogs took a 10-3 lead with 8:24 remaining in the third period.
Newsome and Harris combined to carry 30 times for 115 yards. Newsome finished with 19 carries for 76 yards and two scores while Harris carried 11 times for 39 yards. Wilson attempted 21 passes, completing 15 for 145 yards. Jeffcoat led Elon’s receiving corps with four grabs for 53 yards.
Wiggins led all players with 16 total tackles, including nine solo stops, to move into fourth place on Elon’s all-time tackles chart. The senior now has 334 career tackles. Thompson and Joshua Jones each finished the day with 11 stops.
For The Citadel, Tolu Akindele totaled 13 tackles. Offensively, Dupree carried 23 times for 85 yards and completed three of his six passes for another 48 yards.