The Elon University football team collected its seventh win of the season and its fourth over a ranked opponent on Saturday, beating No. 13 Villanova University 19-14.
Freshman quarterback Davis Cheek led the offense en route to the road to victory, racking up 357 passing yards and completing 24 of his 35 attempts. Cheek was also responsible for both of Elon’s touchdowns.
Cheek has established himself as a reliable starter in his first year on the team, but spent much of his play time in the shadow of junior running back Malcolm Summers whose explosive rushing dominated Elon’s offensive strategy. After a hamstring injury sidelined Summers for the remainder of the season, Cheek has stepped into a new level of importance for the Phoenix’ offense.
Villanova was the first on the board Saturday with a 42-yard pass play at the close of the first quarter.
Elon responded early in the second quarter when Cheek connected with sophomore running back De’Sean McNair on a 9-yard play that capped a 78-yard drive. McNair also had a solid afternoon on the ground, carrying 20 times for 90 yards.
The two teams entered the half knotted at seven, but freshman kicker Owen Johnson broke the tie on a field goal from 25 yards out with 3:54 to play in the third. Johnson missed an earlier try from 38 yards on Elon’s first drive of the game.
The Wildcats took a four point advantage following a touchdown on the following drive, taking a lead into the fourth quarter.
Then, with 10:51 to go in the fourth, Elon regained the lead on Cheek’s second touchdown of the game; this time finding sophomore wide receiver Tre Marsh for a 21-yard completion. Marsh now has three touchdowns on the year.
Although Johnson missed the PAT on that touchdown, he drilled a 28-yard field goal to buy Elon some insurance points with 4:45 left to play.
The Phoenix emerge from the game undefeated against FCS teams. While many of those games have featured close calls near the end of regulation, Elon’s consistency against ranked teams will likely buy them a higher ranking in this week’s national polls.
Elon will play Towson University next, as the Phoenix welcomes the Tigers over Homecoming weekend on Nov. 4. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.