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Elon finds right mix for CAA success; its national ranking climbs after win over Richmond


By Bob Sutton

Special to The Alamance News

Barely more than a month into the season and the Elon football team has compiled a list of thrills. With each one comes something perhaps even bigger for the Phoenix.

“These games are cool and all,” fifth-year senior safety Cole Coleman said. “But it’s only fun looking back when you win them.”

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Elon, up to a No. 14 ranking in the Football Championship Subdivision, has won four in a row. The Phoenix aims to extend the streak Saturday afternoon against Towson at Rhodes Stadium.

It might be difficult to top the drama of the past two weeks, with the largest comeback in the program’s FCS history to knock off host William & Mary and then last week’s 30-27 double-overtime conquest of visiting Richmond.

[For a full report from Elon’s double-overtime victory against Richmond, go to:]

Those gave Elon (4-1, 2-0 Colonial Athletic Association) consecutive victories against nationally-ranked teams. Reviewing those performances is rewarding for the Phoenix.

“Sundays are fun when you win,” coach Tony Trisciani said. “We correct the mistakes. We’ve been very purposeful in our teaching. It’s important that we grow every week as a team and trust our process. … We want to try to win one game a week.”

Coming out on the right side of these tight games would be a preferable trend. The Phoenix might expect more of those situations.

“We’re no stranger to close games and things that come down to the wire,” Coleman said. “One thing is for sure, it puts up my blood pressure. I’d much rather deal with a blowout in terms of a stress management level. But it has been cool. It’s great for the fans, and for the guys it makes us closer.”

While Coleman has the vantage point of a veteran on the team, Johncarlos Miller is a redshirt freshman already making big contributions.

He was named the CAA’s Rookie of the Week after blocking a Richmond field-goal attempt and scoring his first collegiate points on a reception in overtime.

This made it all seem so real for Miller.

“It’s actually starting to hit me,” he said. “Dreaming of playing Division I college football and then you’re on the field, it’s hitting you. You’re on the field living out my dream.”

Miller played sparingly last season as the Phoenix wanted to preserve the former Greensboro Dudley player’s redshirt season. The blocked field goal was a bonus coming from the 6-foot-5 player used in specialty situations. He’s also the starting tight end.

“He can be a real weapon in our league as a tight end,” Trisciani said.

Going into the game against Towson (2-3, 0-2), the Phoenix has displayed a nice blend of veteran leadership and younger talent. That’s creating a nice mesh within the team.

“Our ability to continue to fight and believe in each other,” Trisciani said of what has defined the team.

Kicker Skyler Davis will set the Elon record for field goals with his next successful attempt. He has made 59, tying Andrew Wilcox’s mark set from 2005-08.

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