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Elon Thrwarts Furman Comeback, 34-31

Thomas Gordon
Thomas Gordon

GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Elon's Owen Johnson connected on a 36-yard field goal with five seconds remaining to lift the Phoenix to a 34-31 victory over Furman Saturday afternoon at Paladin Stadium.

The Paladins (0-2) erased a 21-0 first-quarter deficit and held a 31-24 lead late in the fourth quarter before Tre Lennon hauled in a 15-yard touchdown pass from Davis Cheek with 3:00 to play. After stopping the Paladins on their next possession, Elon (1-1) marched 46 yards on seven plays for Johnson's game-winning kick.

Cheek completed 26-of-35 pass attempts for 301 yards and three touchdowns, including a pair of scoring tosses to Lennon, who had nine catches for 83 yards in the contest.

Cheek helped put Phoenix on top 7-0 with 13-yard strike to Malcolm Summers on the game's first possession and made it 14-0 less than a minute later after Elon's Dondre Howell recovered a fumble at the Furman 24 to set up Cheek's 19-yard strike to Lennon.

Another Paladin fumble at the Furman 23 led to Elon's third touchdown of the first period, a 2-yard plunge by Brelynd Cyphers that extended the advantage to 21-0.

The Paladins got off the deck in the second quarter with an Antonio Wilcox 8-yard scoring run and Grayson Atkins 25-yard field goal to make it 21-10, and Furman wasted little time in the second half to continue its comeback, marching 65 yards in seven plays for a Darius Morehead 13-yard touchdown run to cut the lead to 21-17.

The Paladins extended their 24-point run on their next possession when Thomas Gordon slipped behind Elon's defense and hauled in a P.J. Blazejowski pass for a 77-yard scoring play and a 24-21 advantage.

After Elon tied the game, Furman scored on its fifth straight possession, using 10 plays to cover 65 yards for a Ridge Gibson 3-yard scoring plunge and 31-24 lead with a minute left in the third quarter.

The Paladins' bid to put the game away in the fourth quarter fizzled, however, as the ensuing three possessions ended in punts.  Elon, meanwhile, tied the game at 31-31 on Cheek's 15-yard connection to Lennon.

A Devin Wynn 35-yard kickoff return to the Furman 44 with less than three minutes remaining put the Paladins in good shape, but an illegal block penalty led to a punt to the Elon 35 with 1:05 to go.  From that point Elon moved to the Furman 19 for Johnson's game winning kick.

Cheek completed 26 of 35 passes for 301 yards and three touchdowns.  He was intercepted once and sacked three times.

The Phoenix finished the game with a 446-396 advantage in total offense.

Furman, which totaled just 14 yards in offense in the first quarter, finished with 258 yards rushing and 138 yards passing.  Paladin quarterback P.J. Blazejowski connected on just 5-of-13 passes but ran for 80 yards on 17 carries.  Darius Morehead finished with 13 rushes for 78 yards.

The Paladins play at N.C. State next Saturday in a 12:20 p.m. contest.