ELON, N.C. -- A.J. Harris' 7-yard touchdown run with five minutes to go in the game gave Elon the lead, and the Phoenix survived a blocked punt in the closing second to hold off Furman, 30-25, in Southern Conference football action Saturday afternoon at Rhodes Stadium.
Trailing 25-24, Elon drove 70 yards in eight plays to take the lead on Harris' scoring run around right end with 5:21 to go. After holding Furman and forcing a punt, the Phoenix attempted to run out the clock but were forced to punt from their own 47 with 17 seconds remaining. At that point Furman's Mike Brown broke through the line, blocked Kenton Beal's kick, and recovered the ball at the Elon 36 with 10 seconds remaining. With time for one play, Paladin quarterback Cody Worley let fly a pass into a group of players in the end zone, where it was finally gathered in by Elon's Blake Thompson on the final play of the contest.
"We certainly battled from start to finish and got some things going in the fourth quarter, but we left some opportunites on the field, no question about it," said Furman head coach Bobby Lamb. "We had a chance to recover three fumbles in the first half that could have been big momentum changers. You have to seize those opportunities like that to win a lot of games. We didn't do that today."
Furman trailed 24-10 after three quarters, but rallied with three straight scores to take the lead.
Cody Worley, who came off the bench in the second period for starting quarterback Dakota Derrick, snaked a 16-yard strike to Ryan Culbreath just inside the corner pylon to complete a 6-play, 61-yard drive and make it 24-17 with 11:04 remaining in the game.
On the ensuing kickoff Elon's Aaron Mellette stepped out of bounds at the Phoenix 2-yard line, and on the next play Paladin defensive end Shawn Boone tackled Brandon Newsome in the end zone for a safety to pull the Paladins within five points at 24-19.
A 27-yard Sederrik Cunningham return on Elon's free kick gave Furman the ball at its 47, and from there Worley used a 31-yard completion to Colin Anderson and a 17-yard connection to Tersoo Uhaa on a screen pass to move the Paladins to the Phoenix 4. From there Uhaa bulled his way into the end zone to give the Paladins a 25-24 lead with 8.57 remaining. Furman's two-point conversion rush failed.
Elon responded with the game deciding drive, aided by a 15-yard interference call on quarterback Scott Riddle's downfield heave into double coverage. Three Riddle connections to Sean Jeffcoat keyed the drive, which set up Harris' 7-yard run scoring run around right end that gave the Phoenix the 30-25 lead. Riddle was sacked by Aaron Riley on the two-point conversion attempt.
Furman used a 13-play, 78-yard drive to take an early 3-0 lead on Ray Early's 22-yard field goal.
On the following kickoff Elon's Sean Jeffcoat fumbled the ball but was able to recover it at the Phoenix 35.
Two possessions later the Phoenix got on the board behind Harris, who took advantage of poor tackling by several Paladin defenders on a 27-yard run into the end zone to give Elon a 7-3 lead.
Elon made it 14-3 five minutes into the second quarter when Lance Camp scooped up his own fumble amid a couple of Paladin defenders and stumbled forward into the end zone for the score. Camp's touchdown capped an 11-play, 70-yard drive that included a 37-yard run by Brandon Newsome, who was stripped of the ball but somehow managed to recover it at the Furman 24 amid a myriad of Paladins.
Furman needed to cover only 30 yards for its next score, set by Max Lerner's hit on Elon Kenton Beal, whose punt rolled out of bounds at the Phoenix 30. A key 6-yard end around run by Colin Anderson to the Elon 2 was followed by Uhaa's first of two touchdowns of the game, a 2-yard dive with 1:56 to go in the half that cut the lead to 14-10.
The Phoenix took a 17-10 lead into intermission with a 12-play, 70-yard drive that set up an Adam Shreiner 37-yard field goal with six seconds showing on the clock.
Riddle, who did not play in Elon's win over The Citadel on Nov. 6, returned to action to complete 31-of-46 passes for 311 yards and a score. He was sacked three times in the contest.
His favorite target was Jeffcoat, who caught 10 passes for 94 yards.
Harris led all rushers with 103 yards and two touchdowns.
The Phoenix outgained Furman 430-313.
Furman was paced by Worley, who completed 7-of-17 passes for 116 yards and a score. He stepped in for Dakota Derrick, who connected on just 4-of-11 passes for 30 yards.
Tersoo Uhaa paced Furman's 167-yard rushing attack with 71 yards and two scores.
Furman will entertain Georgia Southern next Saturday in the Paladins' final game of the season. Kickoff is set for 2:00 p.m.