Senior running back Percy Agyei-Obese runs against Robert Morris on Feb. 27, 2021. 

For the first time since JMU’s 55-21 victory against Rhode Island on Nov. 23, 2019, the Dukes play a CAA game. In an Elon-dominated affair, the Phoenix lead 17-3 at the half.

The good: the No. 6 jerseys for Elon

Junior running back Jaylan Thomas ran for 32 yards and caught for 14 yards in the first half. The first out of the two No. 6 jerseys for the Phoenix seemed to be virtually everywhere during play, and the Dukes struggled to figure him out. 

The other player for Elon to sport No. 6 is redshirt junior defensive lineman Torrence Williams, who was a brick wall in the first half. Williams headed into the locker room with two tackles and one solo tackle, and even though he didn’t lead the defense, he seemed around the field the most.

In order for JMU to get back into the game in the second half, the Dukes need to shut down two key players for the Phoenix.

The bad: JMU’s defense

The Phoenix did their homework — they watched the Robert Morris game. Elon marched down the field several times on JMU during the first half and made it to the red zone almost every time.

Thomas ran all over the defensive line in the first half. Even after a slow second quarter, the Phoenix put up a two-minute drill to score at the end of the half. Elon targeted redshirt senior Greg Ross in double-coverage, so both the receivers and the running backs exposed all the flaws in the Dukes’ defense. 

JMU’s offense struggles so far to score points and will need its defense to step up and stop Elon if it wants to stay in the game.

The ugly: Red zone action

For both teams, driving up the field seemed a breeze. Elon did it the whole first quarter, and JMU shifted more that way as the first half wound down. When the squads hit the red zone though, it seemed to stop.

The Dukes reached the red zone multiple times but only left with a field goal. Elon hit a field goal in the red zone, and its first touchdown came from a 31-yard pass from freshman quarterback JR Martin to junior wide receiver Bryson Daughtry, a pass outside the red zone.

The Phoenix scored in the final two minutes on a quick drive, resulting in a touchdown from redshirt freshman McKinley Witherspoon to make the score 17-3. Late in the half, the game had its first red-zone touchdown.

Both teams need to take advantage of red zone opportunities in order to pull away in the second half

Contact Savannah Reger breezesports@gmail.com. For more football coverage, follow the sports desk on Twitter @TheBreezeSports.