Preview: Charlotte opens season at Eastern Michigan

Before football kicks off, find out some more info on the first week's matchup

| August 31, 2017

Workpeh Kofa breaks free from a defender against Eastern Michigan. NT File Photo

The Charlotte 49ers open the 2017 football season on the road Friday, Sept. 1 in Ypsilanti, Mich. where they are set to take on Eastern Michigan. Kick-off is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. and the game can be viewed on ESPN3 or be found on the radio on ESPN 730.

Charlotte holds a 3-1 record in season openers, but Eastern Michigan has the 1-0 advantage in the series record.

Take a trip down memory lane

This won’t be the first time Charlotte will see the Eagles — the 49ers squared off with Easteren Michigan last season and fell, 37-19. Despite the score, the 49ers were in tight competion with the Green and White. Eastern Michigan finished the game with 357 total yards (72 rushing/285 passing) while the 49ers had 356 total yards (157 rushing/199 passing).

The 49ers had trouble converting on third downs during the game, being successful on only eight of their 20 third down conversions. Charlotte, however, was successful on their fourth down conversions, gaining first downs on three of their four attempts.

Turnovers proved to be the downfall for the 49ers, with Eastern Michigan capitalizing and creating 21 points off of turnovers during the contest. This included two interceptions for 57 yards and a touchdown.

Hasaan Klugh entered the game in the third quarter with the Niners down 34-6. Klugh made quick work and threw two touchdown passes in the fourth quarter to Workpeh Kofa and TL Ford II. The connection with Kofa for a touchdown was Klugh’s first TD in his career. The now starting QB finished the game going 9-for-15 with 66 yards and two touchdowns.

Sophomore running back Robert Washington had a 121-yard performance against the Eagles last year with 20 carries on the game.

The opposition

After going 7-6 last seaon, Eastern Michigan traveled to the Bahamas to face Old Dominion in the Popeyes Bahamas Bowl. The Eagles lost, 24-20, to ODU.

Eastern Michigan retained a strong core from their team last season. There are 17 starters overall that will be back on the field — eight on offense, eight on defense and one special teams member. In all, there are 52 lettermen on the roster for the Eagles.

Included in the returning players for Eastern Michigan are five of the top six rushers and eight of the top nine receivers from last season.  Two of those starters includes top rusher Ian Eriksen who averaged 70 yards per game and nine touchdowns and top receiver Sergio Bailey II who finished the 2016 season with 868 yards and seven touchdowns.

Helming the offense is QB Brogan Roback. Roback has 5,463 career yards and 36 passing touchdowns in his career as well. The redshirt senior’s name was mentioned on a preseason watchlist for the Senior Bowl.

This is a big game for the Eagle’s head coach, Chris Creighton, as he is searching for his 150th career win.

The boys are back

Since missing their bowl berth with a 4-8 record last season, Charlotte enters their fifth season of football looking to continue the program’s firsts by ending this season in a bowl game.

Though losing the inagural class last season, Charlotte is still ready to compete with 15 promising starters returning. On the offensive side of the ball, the 49ers welcome back Workpeh Kofa who led the team with five receiving touchdowns last season. Coming back on the defense are Ed Rolle and Anthony Covington. Rolle shared the team lead for the most interceptions with three. Covington led the squad last season with 10 pass breakups.

Senior Karrington King will be looking to eclipse the record set by Larry Ogunjobi. King needs 13 tackles to pass the career tackle record set by Ogunjobi of 217. TL Ford II is close to entering the record books as well. The wide receiver only needs 87 yards to have 1,000 career yards, becoming the third Niner to do so.

Hasaan Klugh returns to the field to Charlotte ready to lead the offense. The redshirt junior QB finished last season with 426 rushing yards and 1356 passing yards after earning the starter job in mid-October.

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Category:Football, Sports

Kathleen Cook Kathleen Cook is the sports editor of the Niner Times and from Wake Forest, North Carolina. When the junior communication major/journalism minor isn't covering the 49ers, she enjoys spending time with her family, friend, and dog. Kathleen can also be found cheering on the Panthers every Sunday and rooting for the Washington Nationals.

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Kathleen Cook Kathleen Cook is the sports editor of the Niner Times and from Wake Forest, North Carolina. When the junior communication major/journalism minor isn't covering the 49ers, she enjoys spending time with her family, friend, and dog. Kathleen can also be found cheering on the Panthers every Sunday and rooting for the Washington Nationals.

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