The Elon University football team used a powerful running game and a dominant defensive effort to down Division II Fayetteville State University 26-3 Saturday night.

It was Fayetteville State that got on the board first when it took advantage of an Elon error early, as Phoenix freshman defensive back Khalil Moore muffed a punt and the Broncos recovered at the Elon 21-yard line. Fayetteville State sophomore kicker David Lamb split the uprights from 33 yards to give the Broncos a 3-0 lead with 8:01 to go in the first quarter.

But that was it for the Broncos offensively as the Elon defense pitched a shutout for the remainder of the game and rallied off on 26 straight points to clinch its first win of the year.

The Phoenix defense forced three turnovers, highlighted by senior defensive lineman Jack Williams jumping in front of a pass from Fayetteville State junior quarterback DeMarius Davis and snagging his first career interception. Elon junior safety Malcolm Galloway also had an interception when he picked off on overthrow over the middle late in the second quarter to set up a field goal that sent the Phoenix into halftime up 13-3.

Williams credited the team’s defensive performance on improved communication.

“We were talking up front and that’s what really set us apart,” he said. “Everything was just clicking. When things get clicking like that, when all 11 guys come together on one side, you put in a good effort and you win.”

Coming out of the half Elon’s defense continued its strong performance.

“They pretty much dominated the second half,” Elon head coach Rich Skrosky said about his defense, which limited the Broncos to 39 yards in the second half.

Elon’s offense got started following the Broncos lone points as they marched 71 yards on a drive that culminated in a 2-yard touchdown run by junior running back Brandon Gentry.

Phoenix sophomore quarterback Daniel Thompson found freshman wide receiver Jeremiah Bridges in the end zone for a 17-yard score in the third quarter and senior kicker John Gallagher made all four of the field goals he attempted, connecting from 38, 43, 44 and 29 yards.

Offensively Elon was powered by 184 rushing yards, a best for the Phoenix since Skrosky took over as coach in 2014. Sophomore running back Malcolm Summers ran for a career high 81 yards.

“Nobody really did anything special, we just all did our jobs,” Summers said.

The win was Elon’s first in its last four tries and a victory that Williams said will boost confidence heading into a stretch where the Phoenix’s next five opponents are ranked.

“Any single win, regardless of who it’s against, is always a confidence booster,” Williams said. “It’s just good for the morale of the team and going into conference, it definitely picks our heads up. This means a lot. We’re definitely looking forward from this.”