November 3, 2012

The Citadel Celebrates Homecoming with Victory over Elon

Charleston, S.C.Aaron Miller scored a pair of rushing touchdowns and connected with Matt Thompson on a Hail Mary score at the end of the first half while Darien Robinson compiled a career-high 178 rushing yards and the clinching touchdown in the fourth quarter to give The Citadel a 38-24 victory over Elon in front of 14,853 fans at Johnson Hagood Stadium.

The win snapped a four-game losing streak for The Citadel against the Phoenix and pushed the Bulldogs back over the .500 mark at 5-4 overall and 4-3 in the Southern Conference. Elon lost for the fifth time in its past six games to drop to 3-6 and 1-5 in the league.

The Citadel ended a three-game losing streak on Homecoming in its final home game of the season.

Robinson eclipsed his previous high of 132 set earlier this season against Chattanooga and went over the 100-yard mark for the sixth time this year, the most by a Bulldog since Nehemiah Broughton also had six in 2002. Ben Dupree added 100 yards on the ground, and The Citadel had 366 rushing yards on the day.

Robinson has rushed for 879 yards on the year and needs 121 more to become the first Bulldog to go over the 1,000 mark since Tory Cooper in 2007. Robinson also increased his career total to 1,841 to move up three spaces into 13th in school history.

Thomas Wilson completed a career-high 37 passes in 50 attempts for 351 yards for the Phoenix. His second touchdown pass of the game, a six-yard hookup with Tracey Coppedge, pulled Elon within 31-24 with 8:49 remaining in the fourth quarter.

But The Citadel then embarked on a 14-play, 75-yard drive that was capped when Robinson went in from three yards out to seal the victory with 2:33 left. Elon managed to get down to the Bulldog five in the closing seconds before Akeem Garnett forced a Wilson fumble which was recovered by The Citadel's Sadath Jean-Pierre.

Nine different Elon players caught passes from Wilson, including nine each by Aaron Mellette and Kierre Brown for 102 and 85 yards, respectively.

The Bulldogs appeared on their way to an easy win, building a 31-6 lead when Robinson raced 60 yards to the Elon eight and Miller scored his second touchdown of the game on a three-yard run at the 12:10 mark of the third quarter.

Miller, who rushed for 60 yards on the day, gave The Citadel a huge shot in the arm when he eluded the Elon rush and heaved a 51-yard pass that Thompson hauled in at the two and fell into the end zone as the clock ran out to give the Bulldogs a 24-6 halftime lead.

The touchdown was the first of the year for Thompson, who moved from quarterback to wide receiver in the spring.

The Citadel also got a 55-yard touchdown run by Dupree on its opening possession of the game, a one-yard run by Miller and a career-long 47-yard field goal by Thomas Warren during the opening 30 minutes. Elon could only counter with field goals of 25 and 42 yards by Adam Shreiner.

The 25-point Bulldog lead was trimmed to 31-14 when a low pitch from Dupree to Dalton Trevino was recovered by Elon's Michael Pearson at The Citadel 31. On the second play following the turnover, Wilson threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Brown and then hit Jeremy Peterson for a two-point conversion with 6:37 left in the third quarter.

On its next drive, the Phoenix used a 36-yard pass from Wilson to Mellette to set up a 33-yard field goal by Shreiner to make it 31-17. Brandon McCladdie thwarted Elon's next series when he picked off a pass at the goal line for his second interception of the season and sixth of his career.

Again the Bulldog offense stalled, and Elon drove 46 yards and made it a seven-point game on the scoring pass from Wilson to Coppedge. The Citadel finally ended the Phoenix comeback attempt on the long drive and Robinson touchdown.

Freshman James Riley, who moved into the starting lineup last week following injuries to linebackers Carl Robinson and Rah Muhammad, again led The Citadel with 11 tackles and shared a sack with fellow first-year player Mark Thomas. A third freshman, Mitchell Jeter, as well as Derek Douglas also had sacks for the Bulldogs.

Jean-Pierre and Carson Smith followed Riley with 10 tackles. Garnett, another newcomer to the starting linebacker corps, had eight as well as his forced fumble and pass breakup.

Jonathan Spain led the Phoenix with 11 tackles, and Chandler Wrightenberry and Blake Thompson both had eight.

The Citadel hits the road for its final two games of the regular season. The Bulldogs travel to Lexington, Va., next week to battle VMI in the Military Classic of the South and ownership of the coveted Silver Shako before finishing the year at Furman.