Saturday, October 24, 2020

Charlotte Wins Home Opener, 38-28, Over UTEP

CHARLOTTE – The Charlotte 49ers waited patiently for the beginning of their home slate of games for the 2020 season. With the COVID-19 pandemic leading to postponements across the nation, with two of the postponements being Charlotte home games, the 49ers were finally able to play a game at Jerry Richardson Stadium on Saturday afternoon against the visiting UTEP Miners and came away with a 38-28 victory.

After deferring the opening kickoff, Charlotte started on defense and made it count. Six plays into the drive, Tyler Murray stepped in front of a pass near midfield and returned it to the UTEP seven-yard line. Two plays later, Aaron McAllister bulled his way into the end zone at the 49ers held a 7-0 lead early in the game.

Photo Credit: Ed Conway

For as good as the first drive was for the Charlotte defense, the second drive was on the opposite end of the spectrum. Aided by two defensive pass interference calls, the Miners marched sixty-four yards down the field over fifteen plays, culminating in a two-yard scoring run by Deion Hankins. The scoring drive took nearly nine minutes off of the clock and left the two teams tied at 7 at the end of the first quarter.

Charlotte’s special teams tried to pin the UTEP offense with a punt that forced the visitors to start at their own two-yard line. But, the Miners wouldn’t be denied and paraded methodically down the field, tallying all of the ninety-eight yards needed to hit pay dirt for the second time in the half. The Charlotte offense found itself in a position where it needed to mount a response and it did when Chris Reynolds found Victor Tucker in the corner of the end zone to knot the game at 14 going into the half.

The Forty-Niner defense found their way in the third quarter, keeping UTEP in check and forcing two turnovers. Although the Charlotte offense was unable to covert a Lance McMillan interception, his fumble recovery contributed to field position that eventually resulted in a touchdown pass from Reynolds to Cam Dollar.

When it looked like Charlotte was putting it out of reach with a thirteen-yard jet sweep touchdown run by Micaleous Elder, UTEP responded with a touchdown drive to bring it within ten points, but a personal foul penalty on the ensuing onside kickoff gave the 49ers possession in UTEP territory. Aaron McAllister delivered the finishing blow, a thirty-seven yard scoring run, his second of the day to make it a three possession game with just a few minutes left in the game.

After having to wait until the seventh week of the season to finally host a home game, the limited fans who were allowed to be in attendance left happily as clock hit triple zeroes and the 49ers won their second straight game, 38-28.


Notable North Carolinians

Lance McMillan – the redshirt sophomore defensive back had an interception and a fumble recovery in the third quarter

Chris Reynolds – the redshirt junior quarterback passed for two touchdowns

Of Note 

With restrictions in place in North Carolina on public gatherings, the stadium was limited to 7% attendance.

Both teams were 4-4 in the red zone.

UTEP won the total yardage (374 to 329) and time of possession (31:02 to 28:58) battles.

Up Next

Charlotte (2-2, 2-1) travels to take on Duke (1-5) in nonconference action while UTEP (3-3, 0-2) hosts North Texas (2-3, 1-2) in another Conference USA tilt.