ELON, N.C. – In its home opener at Rhodes Stadium, the Elon University football team defeated the The Citadel 35-28 to earn the first collegiate win for head coach Tony Trisciani.
"I'm real pleased with our effort. Our guys played real hard, real physical and with a lot of passion," Trisciani said. "We were very resilient in this football game. We overcame some adversity at times, we lacked some poise at times and we lacked some discipline. But I'm really proud of the effort, we dug our heels in and proud of getting our first win together."
Elon scored the game-winning touchdown with 6:07 to play thanks to Brelynd Cyphers bouncing to the right side and breaking a 30-yard touchdown run. On the drive, Cyphers ran for 53 of the 75-yard march before capping with the long score.
Before Cyphers' go-ahead score, The Citadel put 14 points on the board to tie the game early in the fourth after a touchdown drive and a recovered onside kick that put the Bulldogs in good field position to drive and tie.
Elon led 28-14 after three quarters thanks to touchdowns on both sides in the closing 2:34 of the quarter. The Citadel scored with 2:34 to go to cut the deficit to 21-14 before Jaylan Thomas found the end zone for the second time with a 20-yard run down the right sideline.
In the first half, Elon opened the scoring on its second drive with De'Sean McNair running in from four yards out. Davis Cheek then made it 14-7 early in the second when he hit a wide-open Kortez Weeks from 27 yards out to cap a 75-yard drive. Thomas's first score of the day came when he capped a nearly six-minute drive with a six-yard touchdown run.
Elon: Jaylan Thomas– 20 carries, 135 yards, 2 touchdowns
The Citadel: Clay Harris – 13 carries, 44 yards,
Elon: Davis Cheek– 14/23, 226 yards, 1 touchdown
The Citadel: Brandon Rainey– 4/8 69 yards, 1 touchdown
Elon: Avery Jones– 2 receptions, 55 yards
The Citadel: Ryan McCarthy – 1 reception, 37 yards
Elon: Marcus Willoughby– 14 tackles, 2 solo, 2 TFL, 1 sack
The Citadel: Willie Eubanks III – 13 tackles, 3 solo
-Jaylan Thomas's two-score game marks the second of his career.
-Davis Cheek has now attempted 161 consecutive passes without throwing an interception. His last interception came in the 2018 season opener at USF.
-Elon had five touchdown drives of 75-yard or more. Each of Elon's eight scoring drives this season has gone at least 69 yards in length and has ended in touchdowns each time. For comparison, Elon had 11 scoring drives of 10-plus plays and only had four such drives over the course of the final five games.
-Marcus Willoughby finished with a career-high 14 tackles and 2.0 sacks. Stephen Copeland also posted a career-high 10 tackles.
-Elon held The Citadel to 156 rushing yards, marking the fewest in a game for the option attack since it ran for 155 against No. 2 Clemson on Nov. 18, 2017.
Elon will next travel to Richmond, Va., on Saturday, Sept. 14 to take on the Spiders in its first Colonial Athletic Association matchup of the season. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. on FloSports.