While the Elon University football team lost the lead late in the fourth quarter, it'll be looking back at the first half for an abundance of missed scoring chances against North Carolina A&T State University.
Elon started its first five drives from its own 47 yard line, NC A&T’s 45 and its own 46-, 45- and 40-yard lines. While the Phoenix reached Aggies territory in four of those five drives, it came away with no points.
“We had a couple missed opportunities in the first half,” said head coach Rich Skrosky.
You could say that again.
The Phoenix outgained the Aggies in first-half total yardage 101-96 but couldn’t capitalize with any points, including a fumble by freshman running back Malcolm Summers at the Aggies' 23-yard line in the first quarter. In Skrosky's eyes, that fumble was one of the game’s standout plays.
Elon’s second turnover was equally costly. After starting at the Aggies' 45 yard line, sophomore running back Brandon Gentry fumbled the handoff from redshirt freshman quarterback Connor Christiansen.
“That was one where I just put it too low on [Gentry], and I think because I put it in a bad spot, he thought I was attempting to keep it,” Christiansen said. “It comes back on me, I have to put it in his stomach. It’s not hard, it’s just something I messed up.”
Skrosky said that turnover was especially difficult to cope with because it flipped the field position back in NC A&T’s favor.
“Whether or not we would have scored on that drive to go ahead, it just flipped the field position,” he said.
The Elon defense held NC A&T deep on its own side of the field in the first half, taking many snaps in the shadow of its own end zone. Christiansen said it was the second straight week the Phoenix defense had a standout performance, but was disappointed he couldn’t return the favor to his teammates.
“As an offense, it hurts because you want to be productive and you want to bail these guys out,” he said.
Skrosky said he was also disappointed at the lack of big plays from the Elon offense, which he calls the second most important stat besides turnovers.
Growing pains were expected from the Elon offense, but perhaps the aches and pain are a bit more severe than anticipated. With only 17 points scored in regulation through three games, Elon will be searching for any signs of potency on offense, big or small.