CHARLESTON, S.C. - No. 12 Elon rallied off 21 consecutive points in the second half to hold off Charleston Southern on Saturday night at Buccaneer Field as CSU fell to the visiting Phoenix, 31-22.
Charleston Southern (0-2) built a 22-10 advantage early in the third quarter following Tyler Tekac's 44-yard field goal attempt. Back-to-back Elon (2-1) touchdowns that sandwiched a key CSU fumble propelled the Phoenix comeback with De'Sean McNair scoring the go-ahead touchdown with 7:58 to play in the third quarter.
Davis Cheek found Corey Joyner for a 12-yard touchdown on the ensuing possession to secure the Elon lead and the eventual win.
The Elon comeback spoiled a standout performance by CSU quarterback London Johnson. Johnson carried the ball 14 times for 119 yards and three touchdowns, including a 78-yard scoring scamper in the first quarter. However, Johnson accounted for two interceptions in the passing game allowing the Phoenix to stay close in the eventual comeback.
Malcolm Summers gashed the Bucs for the second consecutive season with the Elon running back accounting for 150 of the Phoenix 226 rushing yards in the contest. McNair added 89 yards on 16 carries and two touchdowns.
Shadarius Hopkins paced CSU's defensive efforts with a career-high 16 tackles in the game, including a tackle for loss and forced fumble.
Elon's Davis Cheek found Malcolm Summers for a 16-yard touchdown pass with 9:48 left in the third quarter to cut Charleston Southern's lead down to 22-17. The ensuing kickoff, Brandon Rowland was stripped on the return by De'Sean McNair. Elon's Zach Monson fell on the ball at the CSU 40 yard line to swing the ball back to the Phoenix.
Cheek found Kortez Weeks for a 13-yard reception on the first play of the drive to move the ball to the CSU 27. Malcolm Summers took over from there with carries of nine, four, eight, and three to move the ball down to the CSU 3. McNair went over the goal line on the next carry to put the Phoenix back in the lead and continued the momentum that carried Elon to the win.
How They Scored
- Elon's Skyler Davis put the Phoenix on the board at the 9:54 mark in the first quarter with a 20-yard field goal to cap the opening 13-play, 71-yard drive.
- London Johnson rounded on CSU's opening possession with a one-yard plunge up the middle to put the Bucs on the scoreboard with 4:32 left in the quarter. The touchdown came on third down after Terrence Wilson and Adam Allen both were stopped short of the goal line.
- Johnson went around the right side, faked the option pitch, and then went the distance on CSU's ensuing possession to close out the first quarter. His 78-yard touchdown run put the Bucs ahead 13-3 after the conversion attempt failed.
- De'Sean McNair carried the load for the Phoenix on their next scoring drive with 60 rushing yards on seven carries before finding the end zone with 10:54 to play in the first half. The Phoenix capitalized on a lucky bounce on a fumble inside the red zone prior to the touchdown run.
- Johnson scored his third rushing touchdown of the first half just before the horn. The CSU quarterback went in from two yards out to capitalize a six-play, 45-yard drive to send the team into the break leading 19-10.
- Tyler Tekac connected on his first field goal of 2018 for the first points of the third quarter. The senior placekicker drilled a 44-yard attempt to put CSU ahead 22-10 with 11:33 to play in the quarter.
- Davis Cheek rolled right and bought time for Malcolm Summers to come open in front of the right pylon for the 16-yard touchdown pass to cut into the CSU lead with 9:48 remaining.
- McNair was back in the end zone for the second time following a CSU fumble on the kickoff return scoring on a three-yard plunge around the left side to put the Phoenix back in the lead, 24-22.
- Cheek connected with Corey Joyner for the game-clinching touchdown pass with 3:01 remaining in the third quarter. Cheek was 5-of-6 through the air on the drive and added a 49-yard pass to Cole Taylor prior to the touchdown pass.
Inside the Numbers
- Charleston Southern held the rushing advantage in the game, 238-226, against the Phoenix on Saturday night at Buccaneer Field.
- Elon held the 26-11 edge in first downs, as well as the 34:25-25:35 time of possession edge in the contest.
- The Buccaneers were limited to 43 total yards in the second half during the Elon comeback.
- London Johnson recorded the second 100+ yard rushing game of his collegiate career against the Phoenix on Saturday night with 119 yards on 14 carries.
- Johnson's three rushing touchdown game tied him for the third-most in a single game at CSU and as the Bucs' first since Mike Holloway ran for three against Monmouth on October 10, 2015.
- Shadarius Hopkins established a new career high with 16 tackles in the game, including 10 solo stops in the game.
- Johnny Robinson was a force on the defensive line with CSU's second sack of the season and his first two tackles for loss among his three tackles.
- J.D. Sosebee recorded his first double-digit tackle performance of the season with 10 tackles and added a fumble recovery.
- Kyle Reighard continued his strong presence in the punt game with a 44.6 punting average, including dropping two inside the Elon 20-yard line.
- Malcolm Summers (150 rushing yards) continued his success against the Bucs over the last two seasons after rushing for 178 last year at Elon.
- Davis Cheek finished the game 19-of-26 through the air for 220 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
News & Notes of Interest
- Charleston Southern commemorated President Emeritus Dr. Jairy C. Hunter during a halftime ceremony with a medallion that will grace the façade of the Whitfield Stadium Center in honor of his 34 years of service at CSU.
- CSU recognized Coach Tommy Conrad and members of the 1997 men's basketball team on-field during the first quarter break. The team was the first in program history to advance to the NCAA Tournament.
- CSU falls to 0-6 against Elon all-time in the season series with the loss to the Phoenix.
- CSU's captains for the game were Brackin Smith, Johnny Robinson, Taz Lindsey, and Brandon Rowland.
- CSU falls to 1-11 all-time against current members of the CAA with the loss.
- CSU's home game against the Phoenix was the Bucs' first since September 1 – a nearly three week break since their opener at Florida.
- The home game was CSU's lone scheduled home competition over the first five contests of the season as the Bucs head back on the road the next two weeks at Hampton (Sept. 29) and Savannah State (Oct. 6).
- It was the second time CSU has faced Elon coming off a bye week and a weather-related break. Last season the Bucs fell to the Phoenix, 19-17, in Elon, following a game cancellation (S.C. State) and a hurricane (Hurricane Irma).
CSU Play of the Game
Player of the Game
Charleston Southern returns to the road next week against Hampton University with kickoff set for 2 p.m. in Hampton, Va.