Saturday, October 9, 2021

Charlotte Explodes for Six TDs; Improves to 4-2 With Road Win at FIU

MIAMI – Charlotte (4-2; C-USA: 2-0) scored six touchdowns to earn its first road win of the year, 45-33, over FIU in a Conference USA East Division contest at Riccardo Silva Stadium, Friday night.

"It's hard to win football games," said 49ers head coach Will Healy.  "I don't care who we play in our conference - there's a bunch of 50-50 games. For us to find a way to go on the road and get a win is important, especially on a short week. I ask those guys to give me everything they've got for 60 minutes and I'm proud of them for the way we did that."

Charlotte quarterback Chris Reynolds completed 21 of 27 passes (.778) for 203 yards and a career-best matching four touchdowns to lead the offensive attack, which was aided by a pair of long kickoff returns from Shadrick Byrd.

The win improves Charlotte to 4-2 overall and 2-0 in Conference USA.  The 4-2 start matches the school's best in 2013 and the 2-0 start is the program's best in league play.

Reynolds threw TD passes to four different receivers, including three tight ends and Calvin Camp had a one-yard TD plunge.  Safety Jon Alexander added a 41-yard interception return. Reynolds put up 203 yards of passing offense and the 49ers rushed for another 179.

Charlotte QB Chris Reynolds and DB Jon Alexander


Byrd broke off a 60-yard kick return following FIU's opening field goal, and the 49ers converted a pair of third downs to set up Camp's two-yard touchdown run to take a 7-3 lead.  The 49ers would not trail again in the game.

After an FIU trick play went 67 yards to the Charlotte 8, the 49ers defense kept FIU (1-5; 0-2) off the board when Alexander led a gang tackle on fourth and goal from the two to protect the 49ers' 7-3 lead.

Charlotte's drive into the second quarter included a season-long 31-yard run by Byrd, a 22-yard catch by Victor Tucker and a conversion on fourth and one at the FIU 11 to set the stage for Reynolds' five-yard scramble and dart to Taylor Thompson in the back of the end zone.

The two teams traded field goals in the final five minutes of the half as Charlotte took a 17-6 lead into the locker room.  Charlotte's 42-yard field goal by Jonathan Cruz was set up by a 57-yard kick return by Byrd.


On the 49ers opening drive of the second half, Reynolds connected with Victor Tucker for 21 yards on third and 11 and then hit him across the middle on the next play for a 22-yard TD strike to push Charlotte ahead, 24-6.

FIU struck back immediately with a 50-yard TD pass from Max Bortenschlager to Kris Mitchell to cut the lead back to 11, 24-13.

In turn, Reynolds engineered a five-play, 70-yard TD drive that ended with a one-yard pass to tight end Jake Clemons on his first career collegiate catch.

A 59-yard catch by Tyrese Chambers pushed the Panthers within 11, 31-20 with 11:10 left to play.

The two teams scored four touchdowns in the final six minutes, alternating TDs.  Alexander returned an interception 41 yards for the 49ers first defensive TD of the season and Reynolds threw his fourth TD pass of the game to tight end Ryan Carriere for the 49ers final score.

"There was a lot of sloppy football down the stretch," Healy added. "Credit to them. They played really hard.  I want to finish better.  I didn't think from an energy perspective that we took the foot off the pedal. We've got plenty to work on. We've got to clean a lot of stuff up. Winning cannot get old. We have to make sure we remain hungry, we remain confident.  We have to find things we can fix -- but it sure is fun to be 2-0 in the conference and double the win total from last year -- but we've got a lot more to prove."


Charlotte heads into its bye week before returning home to face Florida Atlantic, Thursday, Oct. 21.

Story courtesy of Charlotte Athletics