?The Elon University sideline tried desperately to pump up the remaining fans at Rhodes Stadium Saturday, Sept. 21. Their team had battled back to trim a 24-0 deficit to 24-21 with less than four minutes to play and was a defensive stop away from a chance at victory.

?Third down. Seven yards to go. Appalachian State University freshman running back Marcus Cox took the handoff and burst 20 yards up the middle for a first down. Four plays later, Cox capped off a 75-yard drive with a 13-yard touchdown run to give his Mountaineers a 31-21 lead, a margin that would hold for the final score.

?“We just fell short there at the end,” said Elon head coach Jason Swepson. “They gave us a chance. We grew as an offense today. I really and truly believe that. We just have got to have the ability to make some plays when plays need to be made.”

?Screen shot 2013-09-22 at 10.31.01 AMAs the rain came down throughout most of the night, Elon had to fight for that chance. Twice in the first half, Appalachian State utilized a screen pass to Cox on third down and long, and twice Cox burned the defense for touchdowns. On the second play, redshirt freshman linebacker John Silas was the victim of a mistimed blitz.

9:21 Elon vs. App“It was great coverage and the kid made a great play,” Swepson said. “We’re learning at certain positions.”

“Making those mental errors and missed tackles will cost you the game,” senior cornerback David Wood said.

With 2:50 to play in the first half, Appalachian State sophomore wide receiver Sean Price scored the Mountaineers’ third touchdown of 40 or more yards. The 41-yard strike from sophomore quarterback Kameron Bryant put Elon in a 24-0 hole. From that moment on, the switch flipped.

?Junior Kierre Brown returned the ensuing kickoff to the Appalachian State 49-yard line, giving Elon a short field. The Phoenix used an eight-play drive to score for the first time on the night. Junior quarterback Mike Quinn found Brown in the back of the end zone from five yards out.

?That drive featured three run plays - part of a night in which the run game was revitalized for Elon. Between redshirt freshman B.J. Bennett, junior Karl Bostick and sophomore Tracey Coppedge, the Phoenix gained 197 yards on the ground. One first half drive of eleven plays featured ten runs.

“Our line did a great job blocking,” Bostick said. “We were hitting the holes, we were filling the holes, everything was clicking.”

?While that drive resulted in a missed field goal, it set the tone for the remainder of the game. Elon’s defense forced a fumble on the first series of the second half, beginning a turnaround for the Elon defense.

“I thought the defense played great in the second half,” Wood said. “We were really fired up, we were clicking.”

Though neither team would score in the game’s third quarter, Elon used the stanza to set up their offense for the remainder of the contest. Bostick carried the ball for 18 yards, a continuation of the run game from the third quarter.

“The game plan is to go with whatever works and that’s what was working in the first half," Bostick said. "So we stuck with it."

In the fourth quarter, two Elon touchdowns captivated the remaining fans and gave a faint glimmer of hope. A 14-play drive that went 85 yards was punctuated by a one-yard touchdown run from Bennett with 7:19 to play in the game.

?“Everything finally started clicking for us,” Quinn said. “It was just a beautiful thing. That’s how we’ve got to do it from the first snap of the game.”

?After a three-and-out, Elon trimmed the lead to three when Quinn completed six straight passes to march the Phoenix into the red zone. Despite the rain falling all throughout the game, Quinn was mostly unaffected.

“I guess the ballboys did a pretty good job,” Quinn said. “I throw it pretty well in the rain.”

?Bostick’s 13-yard run finished off the drive, but Elon was not able to ride the momentum wave. The Mountaineers were able to nail the coffin shut and ride off into the Sun Belt Conference as winners over their in-state rival.

“I like this football team,” Swepson said. “We played as a team. We made mistakes as a team. I think we’re growing.”

?Quinn passed for 229 yards, going 26-of-35 with a touchdown and an interception. On the ground, Bennett’s 86 yards and Bostick’s 66 led Elon rushers. Coppedge, who fumbled in the second quarter, did not play the entire second half. Swepson went as far as to say that “(Coppedge) would be cut on Monday” if he was an NFL player.

?Senior wide receiver Rasaun Rorie was the leading receiver for Elon with six catches for 90 yards.

?Elon drops to 1-3 overall and 0-1 in the Southern Conference with Appalachian State improving to 1-2, 1-0 in conference.

The Phoenix will play Coastal Carolina University next Saturday, Sept. 28. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. in Rhodes Stadium.