The Elon University football team kept it close against the sixth-ranked University of Richmond in the first half, but the Spiders turned on the jets after halftime en route to a 35-7 win Saturday afternoon at Rhodes Stadium.
The Phoenix only trailed 6-0 after two quarters during the Homecoming game, but the Spiders scored touchdowns on their first four possessions after the break.
“Early on, we came out pretty competitive in the first half and made some big stops,” said Elon head coach Rich Skrosky. “I think, in the second half, that’s the sign of a veteran, good football team. They get the ball in a close game and, on the first drive, come out and put a score in and then hold us a put a score in — that’s the sign of a better team.”
Against the best defense in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA), Elon’s offense could not get anything going until garbage time, picking up just 115 yards on its first nine drives. Skrosky felt that the offense sputtered on plays that aren’t difficult.
“The easy plays need to get made better,” Skrosky said. “With Richmond, you know where they’re going to be on defense. They don’t overcomplicate things, and just do a couple things different on third down. Without watching the film, we need to execute easy plays better.”
Elon’s defense stood tall as the Spiders drove deep into Elon territory throughout the first half, keeping Richmond out of the endzone. The Spiders attempted three field goals in the first half, with redshirt sophomore kicker Griffin Trau making two of the three.
“We just come out and work as hard as we can,” Blair said. “The extra bye week helped us out a lot because we watched extra film. We expected the plays that they ran, and our guys performed.”
But the Spiders scored on the first possession of the third quarter and didn’t look back, adding touchdowns on the next three drives. Richmond head coach Danny Rocco felt that his team made the right adjustments at the break.
“I think at halftime, we made some definitive decisions about how we wanted to come out here in the second half,” Rocco said. “I know that I challenged the offense to start to control the line of scrimmage a little more and break their will. I knew that if we could extend the lead two scores, we had a chance to really break their will, and the best way to do that is to control the line of scrimmage.”
Elon was able to do its most damage on the ground, gaining 156 yards on the ground on 39 carries. The Phoenix was led by freshman running back De’Sean McNair, who ran 18 times for 78 yards and scored the Phoenix’s only touchdown.
“De’Sean and the backs in general are doing well, as well as the guys up front,” Skrosky said. “You feel better, not only about the line, but also about the depth — you aren’t seeing a bunch of drop-off. The run game is something I’m excited and optimistic about. De'Sean specifically, I think he’s seeing things better than what he was three or four weeks ago.”
With the loss, Elon drops to 2-5 on the season and 1-3 in the CAA. The Phoenix hits the road for two straight road games, starting at noon next Saturday, Oct. 29, at the State University of New York at Albany.