- Photo by Al Drago
- Elon’s Jeremy Peterson looks for running room against NCCU.
RHODES STADIUM/ELON N.C. Central and Elon renew their series on a damp Saturday night in a game some call an annual measuring stick for both teams.
Both the MEAC member Eagles (1-0) and the Southern Conference member Phoenix (0-1) are playing their only Division I-FCS non-conference game of the season.
NCCU, which snapped a two-game losing streak with a 54-31 romp over former CIAA rival Fayetteville State in its opener, is looking to get some momentum going.
Elon, meanwhile, is licking its wounds after getting a big check and a 62-0 whipping in its historic first meeting with UNC.
The Phoenix won last season’s meeting 23-22 in Durham, but the renowned Dunkel Index has Elon as a 26-point favorite.
Elon gets a huge first half and holds the lead, comfortably prevailing 34-14.
Elon draws first blood on its first possession, going 80 yards in 11 plays with Leesville Road alum Thomas Wilson
- Photo by Al Drago
- NCCU’s Geo Irvine gets loose against Elon.
hitting Aaron Mellette in the back left corner of the end zone. Adam Shreiner’s boot makes it 7-0 with 8:22 left in the quarter.
The Phoenix doubles its lead at 1:02, as Tracey Coppedge goes in from 10 yards out to finish an 11-play, 62-yard march with Shreiner adding the kick.
It goes to 17-0 at 13:22 of the second on a 28-yard Shreiner field goal four plays after David Wood’s 29-yard interception return to the NCCU 9.
And it gets worse later in the half. Karl Bostick tacks on a two-yard run and Shreiner the kick at 5:27, three plays after Tony Thompson’s interception return to the Eagle 3.
NCCU gets on the board with 1:47 left in the half, as Andre Clarke goes in from a yard out two plays after a bad snap on a punt set the Eagles up at that spot. Oleg Parent adds the kick.
But the Phoenix makes it 31-7 at the break on a 35-yard pass from Wilson to Kierre Brown and the try with :10 left.
And it goes to 34-7 at 8:27 of the third on a 21-yard Shreiner field goal.
NCCU gets a big play with 7:35 to go, as Jordan Reid hits Geo Irvine on a 43-yard scoring strike with Parent converting to complete the scoring.
Elon finishes with 229 yards total offense to NCCU’s 110.
Wilson completes 13 of 18 passes for 178 yards with two TDs, while Bostick gains 51 yards on 18 carries.
NCCU completes six of 24 passes for 83 yards and a TD with three interceptions. Irvine has two catches for 53 yards.
They said it …
NCCU coach Henry Frazier: “We’re standing kind of far behind the FCS opponents if this is any indication. We’ve got a lot of work to do. We got outplayed, outcoached and outhustled. There were a lot of loose balls and a lot of opportunities to make plays, but we just didn’t make them. Elon seemed to be a step faster than we are.”
Elon coach Jason Swepson: “I thought in the first half we played inspired football. We did a great job moving the ball. We sustained some drives that resulted in some touchdowns. And then the defense created some turnovers, something that we really haven’t seen we’ve been here. We shut it down late in the third quarter and I don’t think we threw a ball in the fourth quarter. Last week, a lot of egos were hurt. It was frustrating to see their faces, because we’re a better team than that.”
Goggans: “We faced a pretty good team. They brought a lot of pressure, and we didn’t execute the game plan a lot of the time. That’s on the players. We’ve got to get better and we’ve got to stay more focused. We’ll get better from this game.”
Irvine: “(On the touchdown) J-Reid just made a Top Ten play. I started jogging, and when I turned around he was running around out of a tackle and I threw my hand up for him to throw me the ball. I scored. We’ve just got to come out and be more focused. We started real slow.”
What does it all mean?
That Elon is certainly better than it was in the opener, while NCCU is going to face a very tough assignment at Duke.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Wood’s interception return to set up Elon’s third score.
NCCU: Lost 1.
Elon: Won 1.
Elon leads 9-3.
Elon vs. West Virginia State, Sept. 15, 3 p.m.
NCCU at Duke, Sept. 15, 7 p.m.