Richmond, VA - After a lethargic first quarter, Elon University’s football team battled back to dominate the Richmond University Spiders. After trailing 7-0 early, the Phoenix scored 20 consecutive points to claim its first Colonial Athletic Association win of the season, 20-7. 

“I’m really proud of this whole team, that was a team win,” Head Coach Tony Trisciani said. “We gave up the touchdown early and nobody flinched.” 

Elon’s offense failed to pick up a first down in the first quarter, totaling just 34 yards of offense, but responded with 10 points in the second. Senior quarterback Davis Cheek connected with junior receiver Bryson Daughtry to give the Phoenix its first lead of the game, 10-7, with 5:15 remaining in the half. Elon led for the rest of the contest. 

Despite the slow start offensively, Cheek said the team did not panic and stuck with its gameplan. 

“We just stuck to our guns and started just hunkering down,” Cheek said. “We got on a roll and kept grinding it out, one inch at a time.” 

The Phoenix defense set up the team’s first touchdown, as freshman defensive back Dylan Tucker deflected a backward pass that was recovered by redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Joey Barbera. 

“I think that was big for the rest of the game,” Tucker said. “It was a big momentum shift, it was what we needed.”

After its second quarter surge, Elon picked up where it left off on its opening drive of the second half. The Phoenix marched 74 yards in eight plays and capped off the drive with a six-yard rushing touchdown by redshirt freshman running back McKinley Witherspoon to go ahead 17-7. 

A 48-yard Skyler Davis field goal with 4:23 left in the third quarter extended Elon’s lead to 20-7. With Richmond threatening to score late in the quarter, sophomore Tre’Von Jones picked off Spiders quarterback Beau English in the end zone to secure Elon’s two possession lead. 

While the Spiders compiled 338 yards of total offense, Elon held Richmond scoreless in three red zone attempts, including on two opportunities late in the fourth quarter. 

“That’s something we’ve stressed, that we have to make stops. We have to win the fourth quarter,” Tucker said. “I’m just so proud of the guys.”

Cheek completed 18 of 30 passes for 197 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 29 yards on seven rushing attempts. While Elon’s offensive line struggled early against Richmond’s pass rush, Cheek said the unit adjusted well and was pivotal to changing the game’s momentum. 

“Those guys were absolutely amazing,” Cheek said. “They’re still meshing together and they’ve come a long way. They’ve still got plenty of room to grow and I'm really excited for what that unit could do.”

The Spiders entered the game ranked 21st in this week’s Football Championship Subdivision Coaches Poll, a weekly ranking of the top 25 FCS teams in the country by head coaches. This is first win over a ranked opponent for the Phoenix since 2019, when it defeated 19th ranked Towson University. 

“We proved ourselves against right today,” Trisciani said. “The last two weeks, we’ve been talking about how it’s all about us and we just have to do our job, play well and eliminate mistakes. And that’s what we did, so there was some confirmation to our plan.” 

The Phoenix, now 2-3 overall on the season, travel for another CAA road game next week against the Maine University Black Bears on Oct. 9. Kickoff is set for 12:00 p.m.