Charlotte gets fourth win in rout over Southern Miss
After a slow start to the 2016 football season, the Charlotte 49ers got another crucial win on the road and now find themselves needing only two wins to qualify for a bowl game. Once again, the Charlotte backfield did significant damage, and the Niners toppled the Southern Mississippi Eagles, 38-27, in their own stadium.
Charlotte struck gold first, as dual threat quarterback Hasaan Klugh ran in a score from seven yards out on Charlotte’s opening drive. However, USM countered with quick scores– both on plays created by quarterback Chris Mullens. The second touchdown, a 78-yard pass play, came with only 35 seconds remaining in the first frame.
However, that would be the only points USM would score until the fourth quarter. At the 13:29 mark of the second quarter, Charlotte tailback Robert Washington broke free for a 58-yard touchdown that tied the score at 14 apiece. Washington, a true freshman, finished the game with 94 yards rushing on only six carries.
Then, at the tail end of the half, USM broke down. First, Charlotte’s Chris Montgomery got free for a nine yard touchdown run with 1:46 remaining. Then, with 35 ticks left on the clock, receiver TL Ford III scored on a 18-yard touchdown pass from Klugh. Ford’s score gave the Niners a commanding 28-14 lead going into intermission.
Klugh only finished 11-24 for 127 yards, but he accounted for those two touchdowns and also rushed for 21 yards. Meanwhile, senior running back Kalif Phillips finished the game with 186 yards on 29 carries. Saturday marked Phillips’ sixth straight 100-yard game.
“He’s really doing a nice job,” coach Brad Lambert said when asked about Klugh. “He gets a little bit better each week, and he’s just got to continue to work and grow and mature. He’s playing really well for us, and in two really tough environments, he’s come in on the road and held his composure and done a nice job.”
Lambert also praised the backfield effort.
“I thought that was one of the better defenses we’re gonna face, and they just have really played at a high level. So for our guys to come in here and run the ball like that is really, really big and something we can continue to build off of.”
The third quarter was all Charlotte, and the defense was on full display. First, placekicker Blake Brewer knocked in a short 22-yard field goal. Then, Juwan Foggie got though the USM offensive line and blocked a punt, his second punt block of his career. Defensive back Ed Rolle recovered it in the end zone for another score, increasing the Charlotte lead to 38-14.
Defensively, linebacker Nick Cook led the team with 10 tackles; Ben DeLuca and Karrington King finished with nine and eight tackles, respectively. Meanwhile, defensive backs Daquan Lucas and Terrence Winchester had a field day for Charlotte. Winchester picked off two passes and Lucas intercepted one, helping Charlotte win the turnover battle and change the momentum of the game.
The Eagles managed to score two touchdowns in the final quarter while holding Charlotte scoreless, but they could get no closer. Ito Smith and Parker Adamson both scored on runs inside the redzone, but Charlotte was able to keep possession of the ball and left Hattiesburg with another win.
“It shows that we’re working. We work Monday through Friday in all facets of the game– special teams, offense and defense. So I’m just really proud of where we’re at,” Winchester said in his postgame presser.
“It’s really a blessing. I just want to give a shoutout to my teammates and the coaches for trusting me and letting me make plays.”
Charlotte returns home and will look for its fifth win next Saturday, November 12, as they take on the Rice Owls at Jerry Richardson Stadium. The game kicks off at 2 o’clock pm.