Sunday, July 14, 2024

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Phoenix senses big stakes at Delaware for Saturday game

By Bob Sutton

Special to The Alamance News

This seems like a championship game for Elon’s football team this week. The Phoenix would like to get used to that.

“We know what’s at stake,” linebacker Marco Paterno said.

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Elon (4-4 overall, 4-1 Coastal Athletic Conference) visits No. 5 and first-place Delaware (7-1, 5-0) on Saturday afternoon.

The Phoenix probably needs to win its final three games to claim at least a share of the championship and perhaps a spot in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs for the second year in a row.

“Every game I play is a championship game,” Elon tight end Johncarlos Miller II said. “Nobody wants to be a loser.”

Elon had last week off. The Blue Hens (7-1, 5-0), whose only loss came to Penn State, own a six-game winning streak capped by last week’s 51-13 romp past host Towson.

“They beat the brakes off Towson,” Miller said.

Elon coach Tony Trisciani has studied the Blue Hens, but during his team’s open weekend he didn’t watch the entire Delaware/Towson game live. “That would have ruined the rest of the afternoon,” he said.

The Phoenix can’t be fazed.

“Our guys have got to believe that we can go up there and beat a top-five team in the country,” Trisciani said. “Reflecting on last year’s success (in defeating Delaware), it was one of the better games that we played. And a lot of our guys were here last year.”

It’s a game that could be a springboard for the Phoenix.

“That has turned into the standard – winning,” Paterno said. “We have to earn our respect as Elon.”

Defensive back Antonio White said,” You have to win if we’re going to advance and go farther.”

Delaware went 13 quarters without allowing an offensive touchdown until late in last week’s game.

“They’ll throw a lot at you,” Trisciani said.

Blue Hens coach Ryan Carty said he expects to face a team on a mission.

“What they do out there on Saturdays is what they prepare for all week,” he said of Elon. “We’re ready for a big-time battle.”

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