CONWAY, SC No. 18 Coastal Carolina had its 12-game home winning streak snapped in the 2006 football season opener for both schools, falling to Elon, 23-20, Sept. 2. This marks the first time in the Chanticleers' four-year history that they have lost a season opener, while the winning streak dated back to the loss in the home finale against VMI in 2003.
The visitors got on the board first, converting an interception into a short field at the Coastal 22. Two plays later, quarterback Wes Pope connected with wide receiver Michael Mayers for a 22-yard strike and after the missed extra point, Elon led 6-0 less than four minutes into the game.
CCU answered on its next two possessions, getting the ball into the Phoenix red zone each time. However, Coastal could only come away with a pair of Josh Hoke field goals to knot the game at six with 2:21 to go in the first quarter.
Elon posted the next two scores, first on a trick play on the next possession. Wide receiver Bo Williamson connected with fellow receiver Terrell Hudgins for a 42-yard touchdown to put the Phoenix back in the lead at 13-6 with 14:51 to go. Andrew Wilcox later connected on a 41-yard field goal to cap off an 11-play, 59-yard drive to give the visitors a 16-6 margin with just under five minutes to play in the first half.
Coastal trimmed it after driving to the red zone again, settling for another Hoke field goal, this time from 23 yards out, and Elon went into the halftime lockerroom with a 16-9 lead.
Another Coastal miscue gave Elon a short field and they converted again, starting at the Coastal 14. Pope ended the drive with a fourth-down plunge from the one-yard line, making it a 23-9 Phoenix lead with just under 11 minutes left in the first half.
The Chants came back and marched it down the field again, going 73 yards in eight plays. However again, they were denied the end zone, as Hoke hit a 24-yard chip shot and cut the lead to 23-12 with 1:09 to go in the third. CCU trimmed the lead to a field goal with 6:45 to go in the game. Quarterback Tyler Thigpen connected on his first touchdown pass of the season, hitting the fade route to wide receiver Jerome Simpson to make it 23-18. Thigpen then hit tight end Rodney Burgess for the two-point conversion and Coastal trailed 23-20 with 6:45 to play.
Elon marched the ball down the field, but missed a short field goal attempt to give CCU one last possession with 45 seconds to go. However, CCU's drive stalled in four plays and the clock ran out following the turnover on downs.
Coastal outgained Elon 415-331 and had 20 first downs to just 13 for the visiting Phoenix. However, turnovers were the downfall of the Chants, as CCU gave it up four times, two interceptions and two fumbles, and the Phoenix converted it into 16 points. Elon had two turnovers, which amounted to three Coastal points.
Thigpen posted a school-record 312 yards in the loss, going 23-for-43 with one touchdown and two interceptions. Pope was 16-for-27 for 203 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions for the Phoenix. Running back Aundres Perkins led Coastal on the ground with 59 yards on 11 carries, while T.J. Clegg led Elon with 14 carries for 48 yards. Mayers led all receivers with 117 yards and one touchdown on eight receptions, while CCU's leader was Burgess with 89 yards on four receptions.
Coastal hits the road for the first of two consecutive road games against Southern Conference foes, traveling to Spartanburg to take on Wofford, Sat., Sept. 9 at 7 p.m. Elon returns home to host Towson next Saturday at 6 p.m.