Saturday, October 15, 2022

Charlotte Falls on Road to UAB

BIRMINGHAM, AL – Charlotte pushed host UAB to the limit, taking a 20-19 lead early in the fourth quarter, but the Blazers (4-2; C-USA: 2-1) scored the final two touchdowns to claim a 34-20 Conference USA victory Saturday.

"We can't shoot ourselves in the foot," said head coach Will Healy, alluding to three 49ers' turnovers. "I know it's frustrating for our team, frustrating for our fans, and frustrating for our staff. We're getting better on (the defensive) side of the ball. We gave up a couple big plays and weren't great on third down but we had some major stops in the red zone – a  kind of bend but don't break mentality. Us eliminating three and outs on offense was so important. We needed to keep our defense off the field to make sure we had some gas left in the fourth quarter.  Credit to (UAB) being able to put the thing away."

Charlotte's Geo Howard intercepted UAB on the second play of the game to help Charlotte (1-6; C-USA: 0-3) to a 14-7 lead after the first quarter. 

Chris Reynolds was 8-of-11 in the first quarter for 127 yards, including a season-best 60-yard TD pass to Elijah Spencer.  It was Spencer's 10th career TD – the seventh player in 49ers history to reach double figures and marked the 21st straight game in which Reynolds has played and thrown a TD pass.

Reynolds connected with Spencer again for a 28-yard pass on second-and-19 to set up a two-yard TD run by Shadrick Byrd to send the 49ers ahead 14-7.

In the second quarter, the 49ers defense held strong on a pair of goal-to-go possessions.  On a first-and-goal from the five, Charlotte held the line and Tank Robinson added a 10-yard TFL that gave Charlotte the ball on downs.  Another Blazer drive late in the quarter gave UAB a first-and-goal from the two.  Again, the defense stepped up and forced a 20-yard field goal that made it 14-10 heading into the half.

A pair of second-half turnovers led to nine Blazer points as UAB took a 19-14 lead with 2:15 left in the third quarter.

After a Reynolds interception to open the second half, UAB drove to the 12 but settled for a 29-yard field goal to cut the lead to one, 14-13. A fumble on a promising drive at the UAB 27 led to the Blazers' second TD of the game.  A stop on the two-point conversion left the Blazers with that five-point lead, 19-14.

On Charlotte's ensuing possession, Reynolds hit Henry Rutledge for 19 yards, Grant DuBose for 18, and Taylor Thompson for 24 to set the 49ers up at the one-yard line. Shadrick Byrd cashed in for his second TD of the game to put Charlotte ahead, 20-19 early in the fourth quarter.

UAB retook the lead, 27-20, on its next possession and added a breakaway run in the closing minutes to ice the game, 34-20.

"What stings is all I want them to do is have a great experience here and ultimately winning is part of that experience," Healy said. "You're seeing strides.  You're just dying for success."


Charlotte hosts FIU, Saturday at 3:30 in another C-USA game.  It will be the 49ers' annual Homecoming Game.