Saturday, November 6, 2021

Late Heroics Propel Charlotte to OT Victory Over Rice

CHARLOTTE – With six minutes left in the game, it was looking like Charlotte was on its way to a third-straight loss. The 49ers, who had dropped two straight games against FAU and Western Kentucky, were reeling from the sixteen-play, nine-and-a-half-minute drive the Rice Owls had just forced down their throats.

Looking at the scoreboard and seeing a ten-point deficit, Charlotte coach Will Healy looked over at Chris Reynolds and smiled, knowing his senior quarterback would know what to do. Reynolds was up to the task, leading the 49ers to two consecutive scoring drives and forcing overtime.

In the extra session, Reynolds hit freshman receiver Elijah Spencer over the middle for the go-ahead score. When Luke Martin came down with the interception on Rice's possession, the 49ers stormed the field, celebrating the 31-24 victory and securing a Homecoming memory for years to come.

Charlotte RB Calvin Camp races to the end zone
Photo Credit: Ed Conway

Reynolds was 20-of-29 passes for 292 yards and three scores. Six different receivers hauled in a pass for the 49ers on Saturday, led by Spener and Grant DuBose with six catches each. Calvin Camp had the long reception for the day, a fifty-nine catch and run to open the scoring in the first quarter. Shadrich Byrd led the team with fifty-four yards and a score on the ground.

Geo Howard led a Charlotte defense that found itself in a bend-don't-break mentality late in the fourth quarter. Howard, a junior defensive back who transferred from Purdue, had eleven tackles on the day.

Ari Broussard was punishing on the ground for the visiting Owls. The sophomore running back from New Orleans had 186 yards and two touchdowns on twenty attempts. Charlotte native Christian VanSickle was 3-of-3 on extra points and kicked a twenty-five-yard field goal for the visitors.

Charlotte and Rice had met twice previously in the 49ers' first two seasons of FBS football. Being from different divisions in Conference USA, scheduling had precluded the two teams from meeting since 2016. Rice won the two prior meetings, and with the win, Will Healy is now 5-0 against teams from Conference USA's West Division.

With the win, Charlotte is now 4-1 at home this season and 10-3 under Will Healy.


Up Next

Charlotte (5-4, 3-2) travels to face Louisiana Tech (2-7, 1-4) while Rice (3-6, 2-3) hosts Western Kentucky (5-4, 4-1).