Ben Dupree rushed for 64 yards and three touchdowns and added another score through the air to help lead The Citadel to a commanding 35-10 victory over Elon in the Bulldogs' Southern Conference finale on Saturday at Rhodes Stadium.
The Citadel (4-6, 4-4 SoCon) finished the season .500 or better in conference play for the second consecutive year and put together its first back-to-back wins of the season, while the Phoenix dropped to 2-8 overall and 1-5 in the conference.
Dupree's three rushing scores moved him ahead of Stump Mitchell for third most in school history with 33. The senior quarterback now has a conference-leading 15 touchdowns on the ground this season and collected his second touchdown pass of the year on a 65-yard strike to Darien Robinson at the start of the third quarter.
The Bulldogs entered the locker room at the end of the first half with a narrow 14-10 lead but set the tone early in the second half with the career-long touchdown reception for Robinson on the second play.
Robinson's two touchdown receptions this season are both over 50 yards as the senior B-back hauled in a 59-yarder against Furman on Sept. 28. Dupree finished the game with a career-high 166 yards on 4-of-6 passing.
Later in the third quarter, freshman B-back Tyler Renew took his first carry of the game and busted up the middle for a 61-yard touchdown run which put the Bulldogs up 28-10. The score was the first of his career as Renew finished with 75 yards on seven carries.
Elon took the ensuing drive 12 plays and 66 yards all the way down to The Citadel one, but an errant Mike Quinn pass landed in the hands of Tevin Floydwho returned it 23 yards to the Elon 24.
The interception was Floyd's second of the game as the true freshman picked off a pass broken up by Brandon McCladdie in the first quarter. Through 10 career games, Floyd has recorded 25 tackles, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries, one of which he took back for a touchdown.
The run-heavy Bulldogs went back to the pass on the following drive as Dupree found Jorian Jordan wide open over the middle and hit the freshman for 51 yards down to the Elon 20. Two plays later Dupree took a rush around the left end 17 yards into the end zone to cap off the scoring for The Citadel.
McCladdie intercepted a Quinn pass later in the fourth quarter to seal the victory. The interception was the Bulldogs' third of the game and eighth of McCladdie's career, moving the fifth-year senior into a tie for 11th in school history in the category.
The Citadel went 35 yards in nine plays on its opening drive, culminating with a Dupree 10-yard rush that put the Bulldogs in position to score, but four consecutive Elon stops turned the ball over on downs, and the Phoenix took over deep in their own territory.
Three plays later, Floyd's first interception set the Bulldogs up for a six-play, 15-yard drive which Dupree capped with a two-yard plunge on fourth down to give The Citadel its first points of the game.
Elon got on the board later in the first quarter following a Dalton Trevino fumble. The Phoenix traveled 40 yards on five plays which resulted in a 12-yard swing pass from Quinn to Tracey Coppedge to even the score at seven.
A 20-yard field goal by John Gallagher early in the second quarter put Elon ahead 10-7, but the Phoenix would only hold the advantage for a little over seven minutes.
Following a 59-yard Elon punt to pin the Bulldogs back at their own three, The Citadel used 10 plays to go 97 yards in 4:48, including Vinny Miller rushes of nine, 10 and 12 yards, and regained the lead on Dupree's second rushing touchdown of the game from two yards out.
Carl Robinson, who entered the game sixth in the conference in tackles, recorded a team-high nine stops, including one tackle for loss. Mitchell Jeter, who earned his third start of the season on the defensive line, logged his fifth career sack, while Julian Baxter and Austin Harrell also posted a tackle for loss each.
The Citadel returns home next Saturday for its annual Hall of Fame game as VMI comes to Johnson Hagood for a 1 p.m. kickoff with the coveted Silver Shako trophy on the line. The Bulldogs have topped the Keydets in six straight contests dating back to 2002.