Friday, December 20, 2019

Charlotte Falls to Buffalo in the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – It was the ideal setting for the Charlotte 49ers’ first-ever bowl game. The gameplay, though, was not ideal as they faced a hard-running Buffalo team that pushed out to an early lead and didn’t let up, eventually winning 31-9.

The Bulls were the first to get on the scoreboard on the afternoon. After forcing a punt to open the game, the Buffalo offense took over at their own 39-yard-line and used a series of Jaret Patterson runs to get in scoring position. The runs worked to draw the Charlotte defense in and Buffalo quarterback Kyle Vantrease took advantage of it and tossed a pass to receiver Antonio Nunn in the end zone. Nunn made an incredible grab and Buffalo saw itself in the lead in this first game of the 2019 bowl season.

Charlotte had opportunities to get on the board in the first half, but they were unable to capitalize. With the wind kicking up to over 30mph at times during the game, a gust blew a Charlotte field goal wide left in the first quarter. Charlotte’s next drive was promising as well, but the 49ers were stuffed on a fourth-and-one and gave the ball back to Buffalo.

The big stop for the Bulls’ defense was a definite game-changer for Buffalo as the offense took the field and marched seventy-six yards on fifteen plays, taking 8:26 off the clock, and making it a two-score game with Kyle Vantrease’s 1-yard keeper.

The Buffalo defense helped create even more points when James Patterson picked off a tipped pass and returned it to the Charlotte 12-yard line. The Charlotte defense stiffened, though, forcing the Bulls to settle for a 31-yard Alex McNulty field goal and a 17-0 halftime lead.

As in the first half, Charlotte found itself going for it on a fourth and short, looking to find any momentum offensively. Just like before, the Buffalo defense held and turned it into a Jaret Patterson score and the margin was extended to twenty-four points midway through the third quarter.

Down big, Charlotte tried to make it a game and finally got on the scoreboard when Victor Tucker took a Chris Reynolds pass and raced fifty-one yards to pay dirt. A Jonathan Cruz field goal made it a two-score game.

Just like they did earlier in the game, the Buffalo offense went on a long drive, taking up a whole chunk of clock as they did so. By the time Jaret Patterson went around the left side for the ten-yard touchdown, over nine minutes fell off the clock and the Bulls were only two minutes from celebrating their first win.

With the loss today, Charlotte finishes the season at 7-6. The 49ers will open the 2020 season at Tennessee on September 5th.