A week after a humbling loss to 19th-ranked Louisville, the Charlotte 49ers football unit bounced back in a big way with a convincing 47-14 victory over in-state foe Elon.
Elon had more first downs, passing yards, committed three less penalties and held the ball longer. The Niners outgained the Phoenix on the ground and continued to use that to their advantage. The Niners compiled a staggering 234 yards on the ground while holding the Phoenix to just 97. Charlotte also picked up 274 yards through the air for balanced attack of 508 total yards.
The Charlotte backfield of Khalif Phillips, Robert Washington and Ben Lemay wreaked havoc on the Elon defense. Washington scored twice and Lemay ripped off two huge runs over 20 yards.
The Niner offense didn’t click at first, as they opened with consecutive three-and-outs, making the home crowd restless. However, quarterback Kevin Olsen and the receiving corps went to work.
After Elon successfully scored on their opening drive, Olsen fired a pass to T.L. Ford II across the middle to tie it up at seven apiece. Olsen followed that score up with two more touchdown passes, leading to a 20-7 halftime advantage for Charlotte.
“You know, sometimes all it takes is that one drive, one play that sparks us. We got that one play and the rest of that was on us,” Olsen said.
Olsen also praised the depth displayed by the backfield.
“Our whole backfield room is pretty good. We have some young guys that came in, they can obviously play. Having guys like that who back up Khalif is huge,” Olsen said.
While the Charlotte offense had a big day, the defense stepped up tremendously as well. Charlotte’s defense forced three turnovers and converted those turnovers into 20 points.
Defensive backs Kedrick Davis and Alex Duncan picked off two Elon passes and Ben DeLuca picked up a fumble and rumbled 59 yards to the house for the only defensive touchdown of the game.
“The whole first quarter, everyone was saying ‘We’re better than this,’” Davis said. “We kept getting in everybody’s ear, being positive and saying ‘Come on guys, we’re better than this,’ and once we got going we didn’t slow down for the rest of the night.”
The Niners never let go of the momentum they had, scoring seven times before Elon finally scored their last touchdown with 6:53 remaining. Olsen led the way with three touchdown passes, and Washington scored twice on short runs. The biggest highlight score came from receiver Austin Duke, who caught a screen pass from Matt Johnson and somehow got by would-be tacklers to score a 76-yard touchdown.
“The last thing I told our team before we left the locker room was that we have to play through adversity, keep playing and focusing on the little things that happen during the game,” Lambert said.
Lambert added that he was disappointed in how the backfield corps was playing early on, but that it got better throughout the game.
Lambert and the Niners can use this positive momentum to fuel their practices this week. With the Louisville game, a home win and all of Niner Nation behind them, Charlotte should be a force to be reckoned with in these coming weeks.