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Sack attack helps define Elon defense; up next: William & Mary

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By Bob Sutton

Special to The Alamance News

The pursuit of opposing quarterbacks has come at numerous levels for Elon’s defense.

The Phoenix is looking for more of that in this week’s Coastal Athletic Association showdown.

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William & Mary, which is ranked No. 5 in the Football Championship Subdivision, visits Rhodes Stadium for Saturday afternoon’s game on Family Weekend.

Elon (2-2 overall, 2-0 CAA) is fresh off a seven-sack effort in Saturday night’s 28-24 victory at Campbell.

“That’s our mindset, we want to help our cornerbacks out,” defensive end Cazeem Moore said. “Coverage and rushing (the quarterback) works together.”

Those sacks in the Campbell game included at least a half-sack for nine different players.

“It seems like a high number,” Moore said. “We work on pass rush as a big part of our daily routine. We want to exceed expectations.”

The Phoenix used 12 defensive linemen in the Campbell game.

“We were trying to keep those guys fresh,” coach Tony Trisciani said.

That worked out with so many Elon players reaching Camels quarterback Hajj-Malik Williams.

“Our mindset is to get after the quarterback, finish plays,” Phoenix defensive end Shon Brown said.

Most of the pressure on Williams came with four-man rushes.

“It’s important that we are able to be sound in our rush lanes and still get pressure on the quarterback. It’s hard to do both,” Trisciani said. “It has to do with the job we’re doing (in the secondary) as well. It’s complementary to each other. If we can make them hold on to the ball a little longer with coverage and having a body on a body, it gives those guys up front a little bit more time to get there.”

With so many linemen in the act, it takes a certain level to earn time on the field. Brown wasn’t on the two-deep depth chart last week.

“There is just a lot of competition in our (defensive linemen) room,” Brown said. “I’m fortunate to be a role player. I’m blessed to go in at the right time. We’ve got a lot of guys who can play.”

With nine career sacks, fifth-year senior defensive end Marvin Pearson is tied for 10th on Elon’s FCS sack list.

William & Mary (4-0, 2-0), the preseason CAA favorite, is aiming to match a school record with a 12th consecutive regular-season victory.

The Tribe has won a school-record nine CAA games in a row since Elon won 35-31 in last September’s meeting in Williamsburg, Virginia.

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