With an experienced offensive line, along with redshirt sophomore running back Jalen Hampton primed to build off a 1,000 yard freshman campaign, there were high expectations for the Phoenix to continue its success with run games, according to head coach Tony Trisciani. 

While Elon averaged 116 rushing yards per game in the first two losses against Wake Forest and Gardner-Webb, Triscianni said Saturday night’s 27-3 victory over the North Carolina A&T Aggies was the type of dominating performance the Phoenix were counting on. 

“We were a better version of ourselves today because we grew from the last two weeks. These guys didn’t need any motivation coming off of these two losses,” Triscianni said. “We knew we had to run the football so our offensive staff had a great game plan.”

Throughout the contest, Elon’s running game was the story of their success on offense. More importantly, they managed to back up senior quarterback Matthew Downing whose inconsistencies continued. 

“We didn’t throw the ball too much tonight,” Triscianni said. “We took some shots.”

Hampton, along with redshirt junior running back Wayne Dixie, ran as if their legs were pistons. They broke several tackles while also turning on the afterburners. Their performance led to 260 team rushing yards, which was Elon’s first game with over 250 rushing yards in four years according to the official history and records of Elon Football game notes. 

“I think as soon as the game started, we started stacking big plays. We felt like we could do whatever we wanted to this defense,” Hampton said. 

After rushing for 89 and 77 yards in the first two games, Hampton put up his first 100 yard game of the season — which he achieved early in the third quarter. Despite not scoring, Hampton finished the game with 153 yards. 

Hampton’s big day started on Elon’s first scoring drive in which he carried the ball four straight times for 35 yards to put Elon in position to score. After that, Hampton only continued to get big yardage with runs such as a 45 yard dash down the sidelines to set up another touchdown. However, he wasn’t the only one wreaking havoc all night. 

The touchdown on the second scoring drive was from Dixie who also had a night to remember. He ran for 85 yards on 14 carries which were more than half of last year’s total, and well above the two rushing yards he totaled in the previous two games. 

After a slow start, Dixie proceeded to run for over 30 yards and a touchdown during the second quarter. Dixie rode this momentum during the second half where he also showed Hampton’s hard-running style en route to a career night.

Although Elon’s run game was productive in the previous two weeks, this game might’ve been their most efficient outing. Dixie’s presence enabled Elon to use a more balanced rushing attack and keep Hampton more fresh. 

“I love when Wayne gets in the game because you got to stop me and you got to stop Wayne,” Hampton said. “Wayne gets the job done, he was different out there today.”

In addition, Elon’s offensive line gave an inspired showing as they paved the way for both backs despite dealing with injuries, most notably Williams, throughout the contest. The result was not only a combined 238 yards from both running backs, but an incredible 7.9 yards per carry. 

“To have two seniors go down and guys step up and we’re still able to run the ball effectively as we were able to, that’s a big deal,” Trisciani said.

Running the football was a key ingredient of Elon’s success last year. Three of their wins, which came against William & Mary, Gardner-Webb and Hampton, saw the Phoenix tally over 200 yards. 

Elon football’s next home game is 2 p.m. Sept. 30 against William & Mary.