Elon stuns ETSU

By Seth Bartee
STAR CORRESPONDENT
ELON, N.C. -- ETSU headed into Saturday's contest with the Elon Phoenix looking for its third straight win. What they found was a new Elon and a defense that was as fierce as their own.
Elon, celebrating the school's 800th game, defeated the Bucs 14-0 before a crowd of 8,353 on a beautiful day in Rhodes Stadium in Elon, NC.
The weather seemed to be the only thing that was a nice experience for the Bucs.
"This was not a pretty game for us and without question is was a huge disappointment," Hamilton said of the loss.
The first half saw ETSU's defense halt Elon standout running back Rashaud Palmer. But ETSU experienced problems in special teams early, as Jon Godfrey had a punt blocked deep in Elon's territory.
"We gave out the short field in the blocked punt and we can't do that," said Hamilton.
Freshman quarterback Anthony Crews ran the football one yard for Elon's first touchdown of the day.
In the first half the Bucs converted only one of its seven third-down possessions.
Coach Hamilton said it was hard to play good football when the team does not convert third-down possessions.
The Bucs did have a chance to score a field goal in the third quarter, but Godfrey missed from 47 yards out, wide to the left.
"I knew the game would come down to kicking and turnovers," said Hamilton referring to the team's failure in both areas.
The second half saw Elon come out strong on their first drive and scored on an option making the score 14-0.
Quarterback Carl Meadows could not connect with any of his receivers in the second half, even with wide receiver Andrew Nuckolls, who he has connected with so many times this season.
"I was holding the ball a little to long and started feeling the pressure," said Meadows.
Gaven Varner rushed for 102 yards strongly despite the passing game being lackluster.
"There is not an offensive position that is not open this week," said Hamilton.
That could be because the team played its worst football of the season, having no scoring chances in the red zone.
"You can't run your defense out of the field as much as we did," said Hamilton.
The defense played well as it stopped Elon's rushing, held Elon's passing to 45 yards on the day and had one sack.
"I see a group of men with a lot of things going through their heads, but we can't let that keep us from winning," said Hamilton.
This being the Bucs' last season, some speculate that psychologically that it could be hard to muster another win.
"Never say die," said defensive back Tony Tiller.
Never giving up for the Bucs is a challenge as it only travels with a razor-thin 56 players. The next challenge for ETSU will be facing powerful Southern Conference teams, especially Division 1-AA top 25s such as Wofford, Furman and Georgia Southern.
"We are going to play as hard as we can for 60 minutes," said Tiller.
The Bucs must stop the decline in the offense as they have scored fewer points in the last two games than they did in their season opener at Eastern Michigan.
"They know the decision they have to make is to play hard, and we will find out which players are committed," said Hamilton.