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The Citadel's Brandon Rainey runs the ball during the Citadel Bulldogs' season opener against Towson at Johnson Hagood Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019, in Charleston. Towson won 28-21. File/Andrew J. Whitaker/Staff

The Citadel spent up to $35,000 this week to pack up its football team and equipment for a week's stay at Lookup Lodge in Travelers Rest.

The purpose: To avoid Hurricane Dorian, and to make sure the Bulldogs could stay together and prepare to play Saturday's game at Elon.

Now, coach Brent Thompson wants his team to make sure that 'Camp Bulldog' was worth the effort.

"That's my message to the team," Thompson said this week. "Why go through all this effort if we're not going up there to win this game? We're going to need to be hungry. It's been a strange week, and we'll see how we react to it."

Both teams will be hungry for a win after losing heartbreakers to ranked squads in their season openers. This will be the first meeting between Elon and The Citadel since Elon left the Southern Conference for the Colonial Athletic Association after the 2013 season.

The Citadel had a lead with 3½ minutes to go against No. 12 Towson before losing by 28-21 at home. Elon, ranked No. 21 in FCS preseason polls, lost on a 52-yard field goal at the buzzer to No. 19 North Carolina A&T.

"To come out of a game like that, against a Top 25 team, there certainly are no moral victories for us," said Elon coach Tony Trisciani. "But I thought our kids played really hard and I was proud of their effort."

For the second week in a row, the Bulldogs will face a top-flight FCS quarterback. Towson QB Tom Flacco threw for 328 yards and a TD against the Bulldogs last week. Elon QB Davis Cheek hit 16 of 27 passes for 202 yards and a TD against North Carolina A&T.

Cheek, a 6-3, 210-pound junior, played for the first time since tearing an ACL against Delaware in the seventh game of the 2018 season. Without Cheek, the Phoenix lost their final three games of the 2018 season, including a 19-7 loss to Wofford in the FCS playoffs, to finish at 6-5.

"For his first game back in live action, I think Davis had a good game," said Trisciani, who was promoted from defensive coordinator to head coach after Curt Cignetti left for James Madison. "I'm sure he'll be real critical of himself and see some opportunities where he could have got rid of the ball and didn't. But for his first game back, he did a nice job."

One stat Citadel coaches will surely note: Cheek was sacked five times for 37 yards in losses, and Elon netted only 19 yards rushing against N.C. A&T.

The Bulldogs, meanwhile, must clean up an offense that committed three turnovers against Towson, and had a TD run wiped out by a penalty.

"We gave ourselves a chance to win the game, but they were able to make a couple of more plays than we did," Thompson said. "We hurt ourselves in the first quarter when we turned the ball over, and then we were not able to convert a score in the red zone.

"But against a very good, talented team, I felt we were able to do what we wanted on offense. We just needed to put the ball in the end zone one more time."

Quarterback Brandon Rainey ran 33 times for 169 yards and a score, but Towson was able to prevent big plays. Rainey's 55-yard run was The Citadel's only play to cover more than 19 yards.


• The Citadel is 2-0 when staying at Lookup Lodge, with victories at North Greenville in 2016 and at Presbyterian in 2017.

• Thompson said safety Destin Mack, who missed the Towson game with injury, should return against Towson.

Reach Jeff Hartsell at 843-937-5596. Follow on Twitter @Jeff_fromthePC

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