ELON, N.C. -- The Elon defense accounted for seven sacks, including three by Michael Pearson, and forced two turnovers in the Phoenix's annual football Spring Game on Saturday at Rhodes Stadium.
"The defense played at a tremendous speed and is playing with a lot of force," said head coach Jason Swepson. They're a veteran group. They're used to playing with each other and communication is at a high level.
On the second drive by the maroon and gold's first string offense, Thomas Wilson dropped back to pass on third and seven. His throw went off the hands of receiver Chris Harris and right into the waiting mitts of Akeem Langham for an interception.
On Wilson, Swepson added, "He had a great spring and cut down on his turnovers. He's our starting quarterback and he's going to take us to the promised land."
With the first string offense back on the field a few drives later, Wilson found Ricky Brown over the middle for a gain of 13 yards before David Wood's hit jarred the ball loose and it was recovered by the defense's Odell Benton.
On the ensuing drive, Blake Rice engineered a drive that covered 44 yards before a missed field goal kept the game scoreless. During the eight plays prior to the field goal attempt, Rice completed all five of his passes for 34 yards and ran twice for 10 yards.
The game remained scoreless into the second quarter when Wilson and the first unit put together a 10-play, 53-yard drive for the first score. Matt Eastman carried for 11 yards on the first three plays before Wilson hit Danny Sellars on back-to-back passes to move the ball to the defense's 28. A 17-yard strike to Sellars gave the offense a first-and-goal at the 10 two plays later. On third-and-goal from the seven, Wilson dropped back and fired a bullet into the back of the end zone where Harris snared the ball that was threaded past Blake Thompson's tight coverage.
Speaking of Eastman, Swepson noted, "He understands his role. He's taken every snap in practice the last couple of weeks. He showed he can take a hit. He did a good job getting some first downs today and I think he's going to help us win."
On the first offense's next drive, the unit went 57 yards in six plays for another TD. Eastman got it started with an 11-yard run before Wilson ran for six yards on third-and-three. On the next play, Wilson dropped back and lofted a ball down the sideline for Montario Hunter who made the grab and was forced out a the one for a 32-yard pick-up. Eastman's second effort on a plunge up the middle on the next play secured him the touchdown.
Following halftime, Elon went through just four more scoreless drives before the scrimmage was ended.
On the day, Wilson completed 15 of his 19 pass attempts for 135 yards and one score. Eastman toted the ball 14 times for 52 yards and a score while also catching two balls for another six yards. Sellars finished with five grabs for 39 yards while Hunter had four catches for 50 yards.
The defense also saw Brandon Brant record two sacks while both Tony Thompson and Jordan Jones had one sack apiece.
Speaking on the team's approach over the summer Swepson added, "They have to take ownership in the summertime. They'll have to do some seven-on-seven and some line drills and things like that. The team is understanding what they need to do to be successful. We have a lot of guys who know how to be a leader."
Elon Sports Information Dept.