The Elon University football team gave itself a deficit it could not overcome, falling to No. 12 College of William & Mary 34-13 Saturday in Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) action.

“I didn’t think our energy was quite what it needed to be from the start,” said head coach Rich Skrosky. “Maybe the weather, but you get 11 Saturdays to do this, and I didn’t think our energy was where it was last week.”

The Tribe scored 21 points in less than nine minutes at the start of the game, highlighted by a 70-yard punt return from sophomore wide receiver DeVonte Dedmon. Elon knew what getting down by three scores meant for the rest of the game.

“We can’t get ourselves in a hole like that,” said senior defensive back Miles Williams. “Defensively, we have to step up and make plays — that’s our job — and we didn’t do that.”

Redshirt freshman quarterback Connor Christiansen did not come into the game until Elon trailed 21-0, but he finished 28-of-45 passing for 305 yards, the most yards by an Elon quarterback in the last 18 games.

“It’s nothing we haven’t seen before,” Christiansen said. “We had the same start against Towson, getting down early by 13. We came back from that, but it just didn’t happen this week.”

The Phoenix (3-6, 2-4 CAA) had its best offensive output of the season, gaining 388 yards on 71 plays, which gave the young quarterback some positives to take away from the defeat.

“There was a lot of moments where I was very pleased with how the offense was running,” he said. “It seems like we’re having that one play, one penalty, one missed throw on every drive that’s killing us. We weren’t having any problems moving the ball — we were doing fine and having fun out there.”

The Tribe (7-2, 5-1 CAA) got the scoring started early and often, with three touchdowns in the first quarter. Junior running back Kendell Anderson had a 19-yard run, and senior running back Mikal Abdul-Saboor added a 1-yard run for the Tribe.

The highlight play was a 70-yard punt return for a touchdown from sophomore wide receiver DeVonte Dedmon. Dedmon fielded the bouncing punt from Elon junior punter David Petroni on the run and cut right, finding a seam up the right sideline for the score. Petroni was leveled on the play by Tribe sophomore safety Mike Barta. After 8 minutes and 50 seconds, Elon had stumbled to a 21-point deficit.

William & Mary sophomore kicker Nick Dorka added two field goals in the second quarter, from 34 and 35 yards out.

Elon put together a solid scoring drive in the third, going 92 yards on just seven plays, with gains of 12, 25, 38 and 11 yards. Freshman running back Malcolm Summers capped off the drive with a two-yard touchdown run, cutting left as every player on the field went to his right.

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