Saturday, October 20, 2018

Charlotte Battles in 21-13 Loss at Middle Tennessee

MURFREESBORO, TN – The Charlotte 49ers dominated time of possession and total offense, boasted a 100-yard runner for the second straight game, but fell at host Middle Tennessee, 21-13, Saturday. The 49ers defense put up its best performance of the year, holding the Blue Raiders to just 144 yards of total offense, but Middle Tennessee cashed in on two interceptions in 49ers territory to post the win.

"I thought everyone on defense played well," head coach Brad Lambert said. "I thought (defensive coordinator) Glenn (Spencer), the defensive staff, the kids -- they had a really good plan and executed extremely well. That's a good offense, an offense that I was really nervous about because of (Blue Raider quarterback) Brent (Stockstill). I thought our defense really stood up. Bottom line is we've got to make a couple more plays and give ourselves a chance to win the game."

Charlotte (3-4; 2-2) struck quick, taking a 6-0 lead on Benny LeMay's 57-yard run on the 49ers first possession. It was the 49ers longest rushing TD of the season and the 10th TD of LeMay's career. LeMay had three carries for 64 yards on the opening drive to post the 49ers to the early lead.

LeMay (129 yards rushing) finished the game with his third 100-yard performance of the season. He finished the game with 187 yards of total offense, more than the Blue Raiders team.

Charlotte's defense held the Blue Raiders to 144 yards of total offense, their lowest offensive output of since 2007, when #2 LSU held them to 90 yards.

The Blue Raiders, however, took the lead midway through the second quarter on Stockstill's 29-yard TD pass to Ty Lee following a missed 48-yard field goal attempt by Jonathan Cruz. After Evan Shirreffs first interception of the year gave the Blue Raiders the ball at Charlotte's 15-yard line, Stockstill hit Lee for a second TD, this time from five yards out, to give the Blue Raiders a 14-6 halftime lead.

Another Shirreffs' INT, after being hit while he passed, landed Middle Tennessee at Charlotte's 22-yard line in the fourth quarter. A pass from Stockstill to Gatlin Casey was fumbled into the endzone, where Casey recovered for the touchdown and a 21-6 lead.

Charlotte scored late in the fourth on Shirreffs 23-yard TD pass to Mark Quattlebaum to cut the lead to one score, 21-13, but the Blue Raiders recovered the ensuing onside kick to preserve the win.

 "You want to give yourself a chance to win the game," Lambert said. "The drive that really hurt us was the drive right out of the first half. We really moved the ball well, made first downs, tied up the clock and then we stalled. That's where we've got to learn to get better. Once we get in the score zone pushing the ball right down there."

LeMay has his second straight 100-yard rushing performance. Charlotte forced two turnovers, including r-Fr. LB Henry Segura's strip sack which landed the 49ers at the Middle Tennessee 23-yard line in the first half, but was unable to convert them into points. After the fumble recovery, an offensive pass interference call sent Charlotte back and Cruz was unable to connect on a 52-yard field goal attempt.

Charlotte returns home Saturday to face Southern Miss at 2:00 p.m. on ESPN3.