GREENVILLE, S.C. – The Elon University football team fell in the first round of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs against Furman University 31-6 on Saturday, ending its 2022 season. The contest was Elon’s first playoff game since 2018.

“Today, we gave it our best, but it wasn’t our best and we didn’t play our best,” head coach Tony Trisciani said. “That’s on me getting these guys prepared. I’m incredibly proud of our players and our seniors for their leadership and the job they did to get us here today and the fight that they provided every day to this football team.”

The Phoenix faced an early deficit after suffering a three-and-out, turning the ball over on fourth down, and squandering a fake field goal attempt on the Furman 8-yard line. Furman was able to capitalize off the mistakes, scoring two first-half touchdowns that put the Paladins up 14-3 early in the second quarter.

“We just really struggled to get going as a football team offensively and defensively early in the football game,” Trisciani said.

Elon’s special teams unit provided the most energy for the team with sophomore punter Jeff Yurk recording two punts of over 50 yards, including one downed on the one-yard line, while senior kicker Skyler Davis scored the team’s only points of the game.

Davis’ stellar season continued into the postseason, as he nailed a 52-yard field goal on the team’s opening drive, followed by a 51-yarder early in the fourth quarter. The kicks tied him for the FCS single-season record of made kicks over 50 yards in a single season, as he finished the season with seven. 

“I can’t say enough about Skyler Davis as a kicker, a young man, and as a competitor,” Trisciani said. “He’s a relentless competitor, he’s super talented. He’s a kid that we should see kicking on Sundays. We’re thrilled that he’s had the career that he’s had at Elon the last five years.”

Elon’s offense struggled for the majority of the afternoon, converting on just five of its 16 third-down attempts and one of its four fourth-down attempts. Trisciani credited Furman’s defensive pressure up front, as the Paladins registered four sacks and stuffed Elon’s running game throughout, holding redshirt freshman running back Jalen Hampton to 30 yards. 

“We did struggle to establish the run game which is something we’ve been able to do here all season is be a balanced offensive attack and establishing the run game has opened up so much for us on the perimeter and vertically downfield in the passing game,” he said. “There was some penetration today, there were also some mishaps on fourth and short that we really needed to convert.”

Things got dire for Elon late in the fourth quarter after a costly running into the kicker penalty on a punt gave the Paladins a first down. Seven plays later, quarterback Tyler Huff scored on a 9-yard run to push the lead to 24-6. A 25-yard touchdown run by Grant Robinson on the following drive sealed the victory for Furman.

“Disappointed in our performance, but proud of our guys,” Trisciani said. “Really proud of our football team for the season we had.”

With the loss, Elon concludes its 2022 season with a final record of 8-4, including a 6-2 record in conference play. The season for the Phoenix included regular season wins over four FCS playoff teams, leading to the fourth FCS playoff berth in program history. Elon has yet to win a playoff game in its time as an FCS member.