Saturday, November 2, 2019

Charlotte Posts Second Straight Win at Home, 34-20 Over Middle Tennessee

CHARLOTTE – The Charlotte 49ers came into November as a team looking to fight its way into possible bowl contention. After a come from behind win against North Texas the previous Saturday, Charlotte was looking to continue its momentum, facing its second Conference USA opponent at home in as many weeks.

But the 49ers were going to have to do without the services of top running back Benny Lemay, who was suffering from a leg injury. With backup running back Aaron McAllister and quarterback Chris Reynolds each running for over one hundred yards, the Charlotte offense did not skip a beat on its way to a 34-20 win over Middle Tennessee.

The visiting Blue Raiders took the opening drive of the game and went the length of the field to open up scoring for the day with a 19-yard Asher O’Hara to Zach Dobson touchdown pass. Charlotte was quick to respond, going on a seventy-five-yard drive of their own with Aaron McAllister’s two-yard run putting the punctuation on the 49ers opening possession.

The Charlotte defense stepped up on the next two drives, forcing two Middle Tennessee punts. The Charlotte offense, however, kept on rolling like it had on its opening drive, scoring with runs both times. Chris Reynolds scampered in from nineteen yards out on a fourth down to give the 49ers the lead and Aaron McAllister hit pay dirt for the second time on a five-yard run to extend the lead to 21-7 early in the second quarter. A thirty-eight-yard field by Jonathan Cruz with no time remaining made it a 24-7 lead going into the locker room.

Charlotte was determined to impose its will to start the second half. Going seventy-five yards in twelve plays, the 49ers took six minutes off the clock and put the margin at twenty-four after Christian Roberson scored his first career touchdown on a one-yard pass from Chris Reynolds.

Although Middle Tennessee tried to make it a game in the second half and got within two scores after two more O’Hara touchdowns, the 49ers offense decided to play keep-away with the football, going on a fifteen-play, eight-and-a-half minute drive to take all of the remaining time off of the clock. “We wanted to put our foot on their neck and end it,” offensive lineman Cam Clark, recalling a conversation he had with the offense, stated after the game.

“Great team win. Huge win. At home. From start to finish this is probably the best we have played all year,” Coach Will Healy said after the game. “I’m extremely proud of where we’re heading, and I think these guys would be the first to tell you we’re not there yet. We made a big step forward today and now we’ve got a tough one on the road at UTEP.”

Noteworthy Notes
With seven tackles on the afternoon, Jeff Gemmell became the 49ers all-time leading tackler
Brelin Faison-Walden forced an O’Hara fumble that was recovered by Nafees Lyon to set up a Jonathan Cruz field goal and Charlotte’s final points on the day.

Notable North Carolinians
Chris Reynolds (Davie) – the redshirt sophomore threw for 192 yards on 14 of 20 passing, but also rushed for 103 yards and a score on the day.
Jeff Gemmell (Heritage) – the senior linebacker had seven tackles on the day, including two solo, and one tackle for a loss that sent the stadium into a frenzy

Next Week
Charlotte (4-5, 2-3) travels to El Paso to take on UTEP while Middle Tennessee (3-6, 2-3) hosts Rice.