The 49ers celebrate after winning their first homecoming game in nail biting overtime. Photo by Chris Crews.

The 49ers rallied from a 17-point deficit Saturday night against the Blazers to bring home a thrilling 24-23 overtime win. UAB dominated the first half by scoring two touchdowns while their defense held Charlotte at zero in their initial meeting. It was not until late in the third quarter that the 49ers were able to rally back, eventually tying the game resulting in their fourth overtime play in the program’s history. Hasaan Klugh captured a career high 140 rushing yards with an impressive 68-yard passing touchdown, two rushing touchdowns and the game winning, two-point conversion catch.

Saturday night was the 49ers first overtime win since the team’s inception back in 2013. Not only was this the Niners first win of the 2017 season, it also marked their first ever homecoming win.

“We never gave up no matter what the record is, we never gave up,” Klugh said. “We approach practice every day like champions, and so I think that’s the biggest key, is preparation and approaching practice every single day as best as you can.”

UAB started the game strong on defense after they won the initial coin toss and forced Aaron McAllister to a fourth down at the UAB 34. T.L. Ford II caught an eight-yard pass from Klugh, which put him over 1000 receiving yards in his career. He is only the third 49er to achieve this accomplishment, along with Austin Duke and Trent Bostick. The Niners were third and goal when the ball was intercepted by Darious Williams at the UAB three.  As they entered the second quarter, Joel Dixon was forced to punt from their 50-yard line.

Shortly into the second quarter, the Blazers found the end zone. Chris Woolbright obtained his first interception of the season when he grabbed the ball after an attempted pass from Klugh. He moved the ball 18 yards to the Charlotte 12 where he was taken down by Charlotte’s defense. At the 13:15 minute mark, UAB quarterback A.J. Erdely completed a pass to Hayden Pittman for 10 yards resulting in a touchdown for the Blazers.

After a 15-yard penalty on Charlotte due to a personal foul by Anthony Butler, Erdely completed a 45-yard pass to Sederian Copeland at the Charlotte 7 before he was shoved out of bounds by Ed Rolle. Totaling a career best 10 tackles Saturday night, Jeff Gemmell forced a fumble on Erdely, who swiftly recovered the ball at the three-yard line. He then rushed the three yards for his seventh rushing touchdown of the season, and gave UAB a comfortable 14-0 lead as the teams hit the locker rooms for half time.

The Blazers commenced the third quarter with a field goal from the eight-yard line to create a 17-0 lead. At Charlotte’s fourth down, Arthur Hart was forced to punt from the 26-yard line where it was fumbled by Andre Wilson and recovered by Alex Highsmith for the 49ers. Charlotte opted to attempt a field goal with 3:25 left on the clock in the third quarter. After the kick was deemed good, the play was called under review, and due to a UAB personal foul, the 49ers were awarded 10 yards and a first down.  The penalty brought them just nine yards from the end zone. Klugh rushed the nine yards and pulled the score up to 17-7.

“We never got down on ourselves,” senior wide receiver Trent Bostick said. “Even though it was 17-0, we never got down on ourselves. We made the corrections we needed to make, and we went out there and executed it.”

Just after Charlotte took possession of the ball again at the 10:44 minute mark, Klugh completed a 68-yard pass to Bostick who carried it into the end zone. This was the longest pass play for the Niners this season and Bostick’s longest catch of his career.

The 49ers trailed the Blazers by three points with a little over ten and a half minutes left in the game. A timely fumble by Spencer Brown was recovered by Ben Deluca.  He drove the ball 26-yards down the field to the UAB 31. Following a Charlotte time out and an incomplete pass to Bostick, Nigel Macauley evened the score with a field goal from the six-yard line.

McAllister rushed for a loss of four yards at the UAB 37, then he recovered his own fumble at the UAB 35 and ran it in for an alleged touchdown. The play was called under review and ended up being reversed, leaving the ball at the 35-yard line.

Thanks to efforts by the team, including hurries on UAB’s quarterback from Butler and Tommy Doctor, the Blazers were kept from scoring in the last 25 minutes of the regular game. Since neither team managed to put any more points on the board, the players, coaches and fans prepared for an intense overtime battle.

UAB started their overtime drive at the Charlotte 25 where Erdely pushed his way through the Charlotte defense for a one-yard rushing touchdown. With a score of 24-17, Charlotte answered UAB’s touchdown when they gained possession of the ball. Klugh rushed 15 yards and completed a three-yard pass to Ford II at the UAB 7. He then rushed the remaining yards to make the score 24-23. The game winning call from coach Lambert was to go for two. Chris Montgomery lobbed the ball into the hands of Klugh, which gave Charlotte the extra point they needed for their triumphant victory. The team took a victory lap around the field to shake hands with all of the fans.

“They ran the ball down our throat pretty good in the first half of that overtime and I had made the decision pretty early, if we scored I was gonna go for two,” Charlotte’s head coach Lambert said. “I think they do a good job of executing that two-point play and I just felt like it was the right time to run it.”

The 49ers head into a bi-week, but will return at Old Dominion on November 4 at 3:30 p.m. where they look to get their first win against the Monarchs on ESPN 3.

Veronica Shoemaker is a sophomore at UNC Charlotte from Livonia Michigan. She packed up her life and moved down to North Carolina to chase a career in NASCAR. She is working towards a Communications and Spanish double-major with a minor in Journalism. She is also a huge sports fan, a part-time artist, and a writer for the Niner Times sport section.