ELON, N.C. ¬– In front of a crowd of 11,257 people, the fifth-largest crowd in the history of Rhodes Stadium, the Elon University football team dominated on the ground in a 27-3 victory over in-state rival North Carolina A&T in its home opener Saturday night.
Elon rushed for 260 yards, the most for the Phoenix since 2017 when the team ran for 368 against Richmond. The victory is Elon's first of the season as the Phoenix is now 1-2 and 1-0 in CAA play. North Carolina A&T drops to 0-3 overall and 0-1 in the CAA with the loss.
HOW IT HAPPENED
• On its second offensive drive of the game, Elon manufactured a 10-play, 73-yard drive that Matthew Downing capped off with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Bonner. It was Bonner's second touchdown in as many games and he has already tied his career high in a season.
• The Phoenix found the end zone again late in the second quarter, but this time it only took Elon three plays, as a 45-yard run by Jalen Hampton set up a first-and-goal. Two plays later, Wayne Dixie III punched it in for the first touchdown of his career. Jack Berkowitz tacked on a career-high 43-yard field goal in the dying seconds of the second quarter to take a 17-0 lead into halftime.
• Elon's defense dominated in the first two quarters, forcing North Carolina A&T to punt on all six of its drives. Five of the drives were three-and-outs.
• Berkowitz made another field goal to cap off Elon's second drive of the third quarter and put the Phoenix up 20-0. North Carolina A&T responded with a field goal of its own later in the quarter to end Elon's shutout bid.
• Elon's special teams delivered a knockout blow late in the third quarter, as Kyle Romenick connected with true freshman DJ Hamilton on a fake punt to score a 35-yard touchdown and put the Phoenix ahead 27-3.
• The Phoenix defense kept the Aggies off the board in the fourth quarter, forcing a pair of turnovers on downs to seal the victory.
STATS AND NOTES
• Jalen Hampton went for a season-high 153 yards on 16 carries as he averaged 9.6 yards per carry. It was the fifth 100-yard game for Hampton as he came up just 24 yards short of matching his career-best.
• Wayne Dixie III added 85 yards on 14 carries to set a new career high on the ground.
• Marco Patierno matched his career high with seven tackles, which he set in Elon's previous game against Gardner-Webb. Caleb Curtain and Marvin Pearson also added six, with Pearson also notching two sacks. Chuck Nnaeto also picked up the first full sack of his career.
• In addition to Curtain's interception, Jaidyn Denis delivered the first interception of his career.
• The Phoenix defense held North Carolina A&T to just 143 total yards, the fewest allowed by Elon in a game since Sept. 10, 2022, against Wofford when the maroon and gold ceded just 128 total yards.
• Elon had just 92 yards passing, its fewest in a victory since the Phoenix beat Rhode Island on Nov. 3, 2018, with 35 passing yards.
• This was the second straight game in which Elon converted a fake punt, with both going for exactly 35 yards.
• Romenick's touchdown pass was the first by an Elon punter in the NCAA Division I era (since 1999).
• The win is Elon's seventh consecutive at Rhodes Stadium, as the Phoenix went 5-0 at home last season. This was Elon's first win against North Carolina A&T in its last five tries and its 12th win in its last 17 CAA games.
• Elon had a massive advantage in time of possession, holding the ball for 36:52 compared to just 23:08 for North Carolina A&T.
• Elon was 3-of-3 on fourth down conversion attempts and scored on all three trips into the red zone.
• Elon snapped a four-game losing streak to North Carolina A&T as the Aggies now hold an 8-5 lead in the all-time series.
• The Phoenix improve to 12-5 in its last 17 CAA games.
• Elon will make the short trip to Buies Creek to face Campbell Saturday night at 6:00 p.m. The Camels are 2-1 on the season and 1-1 in CAA play.
• Elon last played in Buies Creek in 2021, winning the game 24-23 when Campbell was unable to convert on a two-point conversion attempt with 1:11 to play.