The Charlotte 49ers football unit was anxious to get back on the field after last week’s loss against the FIU Panthers. The squad bounced back in a huge way, as they took down the Marshall Thundering Herd on the road by a score of 27-24.
Charlotte started fast and set the tone with senior tailback Kalif Phillips, who scored on a one-yard run four minutes into the game. It was his first score of the game and foreshadowed of what was to come. Marshall tied the score at seven all, when Keion Davis ran in the ball from two yards out. Less than two minutes later, Charlotte’s Hasaan Klugh threw an interception, and Marshall quarterback Chase Litton found Justin Hunt in the endzone on the ensuing drive. Charlotte placekicker Blake Brewer knocked in a 38-yard field goal at the conclusion of the first frame, making the score 14-10.
Four minutes into the second quarter, Litton and Hunt hooked up for Marshall’s third score of the game. However, Charlotte came storming back. Klugh and the offense orchestrated another quick drive and capped it off with Phillips’ second touchdown run. Phillips finished the game with 123 yards on 23 carries. The Marshall offense kicked a field goal, bringing their advantage to 24-17. However, this marked their final points of the game.
The Niner defense came up huge in the second half, as they didn’t budge against the Thundering Herd. Karrington King led the defense with 13 total tackles, while linebacker Nick Cook had 10 and defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi added nine. Ben DeLuca forced a fumble that negated a Marshall score, while Ed Rolle provided the defense with an interception. Charlotte coach Brad Lambert praised his defense in his postgame comments.
“We had some guys step up and make some plays. Our defense came out in the second half and didn’t give up any points. Hasaan makes some great plays down the stretch… they kicked it wide left and we end up with the win.”
Though the defense played well in the second half, the offense was struggling just a bit. Charlotte tacked on a field goal from 25 yards out, Brewer’s second of the game. The kick brought them within four points, but it was their only score of the third quarter.
The fourth quarter was a defensive battle too. Hasaan Klugh made an acrobatic play, flipping over Marshall defenders and into the endzone with 8:32 left to go. He appeared to be hurt on the play, but returned later. Klugh’s rushing touchdown gave Charlotte the 27-24 lead. Klugh also finished 17-31 for 203 yards and a pick.
The last minutes proved to be suspenseful. Marshall got the ball back in bad field position and drove up the field. However, due to penalties, they were pushed back and forced to punt it back to Charlotte with a little over three minutes remaining. Charlotte tried to run out the clock but didn’t pick up the first down. On third down, they appeared to have fumbled the ball, but officials ruled it an incomplete pass instead.
Charlotte punted away to Marshall, which moved quickly down the short field. However, Litton’s final two passes fell incomplete, which brought on the field goal unit to try and tie the game. Amoreto Curraj’s kick sailed wide left, and the Charlotte bench began to celebrate. After the victory formation sealed the deal, Charlotte was left to marvel at what it had just accomplished.
“I’m just lost for words. Emotional. I’m holding back these tears because we did it for Coach Rat (Ratliff). It just feels great that we got one here. This is just the beginning. It shows that we have a lot going on here in Charlotte. We want to win and we proved out here that we are capable of doing that,” Phillips said after the game.
Charlotte is off for their bye week next week, but will return to the field on Nov. 6 on the road at Southern Mississippi.