The Charlotte 49ers (1-9; C-USA: 1-5) failed to secure a victory, falling 35-21 against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (5-5,C-USA 3-3). Saturday, which also happened to be Veteran’s day, proved a turnout of over 10,000, including many active and inactive servicemen in attendance. The loss put the Niners record at a disheartening 1-9, while the Blue Raiders increased to 5-5.
The receivers for Charlotte were led by Mark Quattlebaum and Trent Bostick, both registered touchdowns and finished with 94 and 67 yards respectively. Benny LeMay and Aaron McAllister shared the rushing load. LeMay finished the game with 14 carries for 59 yards while McAllister totaled six carries for 57 yards.
Quarterback Hasaan Klugh went 18 for 30 with one interception. He tallied 258 passing yards and 11 rushing yards and contributed on two touchdowns. The 49er offense finished with 356 total yards, compared to Middle Tennessee’s 457. Both teams had costly penalties during the game. The Blue Raiders had nine flags for 85 yards while the 49ers had seven penalties for 78 yards.
The 49ers offense came out strong with a mixture of running and passing plays, all for positive yards. The drive was culminated by a 16-yard rush from Benny LeMay for a touchdown, giving the Niners an early 7-0 lead. Klugh went 18 for 30 Saturday’s game, putting up two touchdowns along with 258 yards with only one interception.
After the 49ers made their run, the Blue raiders would claim the rest of the first quarter with running back Tavares Thomas making two crucial touchdowns to put the Blue Raiders up 14-7 to close the first quarter.
The second quarter of the game would prove to be a struggle for Charlotte’s offensive. The 49ers had an opportunity to put points on the board during their second drive of the frame. A 12 yard reception by tight end RJ Tyler and a 12 yard rush from LeMay positioned Charlotte within the Middle Tennessee 20. The Blue Raider defense made a stand and forced the Niners to attempt a field goal. Nigel Macauley would miss the kick, wide right, from 36 yards out.
Middle Tennessee posted two more touchdowns before the half. The first came after a six-yard reception from Ty Watkins, an offensive lineman. Later in the quarter, Blue Raider quarterback Brent Stockstill found his receiver Ty Lee 63 yards downfield for another seven points.Lee led the receiving corps for Middle Tennessee with 121 yards on the night.
After the halftime break, a renewed 49ers team appeared. On their opening possession Klugh connected with receiver Mark Quattlebaum for 14 yards and a first down. The following play, Klugh found Quattlebaum again for a 52-yard reception that brought the Niners within the Blue Raider 10. Quattlebaum, one more time, was the man for Klugh and he caught a three yard pass in the end zone for the second touchdown of the night.
Though those were the only points the 49ers would receive in the the third quarter, the team showed an improvement in the penalty column. After having six penalties for 73 yards in the first half, Charlotte did not trigger any flags during the third quarter.
“We got pretty stirred up at the second half,” Lambert said. “I don’t like the penalties in the first half. You know, we can’t have any penalties. I’m not going to embarrass our school by having any penalties in the first half, and that’s what I told the team. I think we had one penalty in the second half. You know we’re not going to do that, have personal fouls and unsportsmanlike like conduct. I thought that was the biggest thing in the first half.”
Charlotte’s defense was able to hold the Blue Raiders scoreless in the third frame. Middle Tennessee was still ahead, 28-14 going into the final 15 minutes.
On the opening drive of the fourth quarter, Klugh looked to find his receiver downfield. Instead, the ball was intercepted by a Blue Raider defender and returned for 26 yards. Middle Tennessee continued to drive down the field with eight plays for 44 yards, ending with a four yard pass from Stockstill to Patrick Smith for a touchdown.
The two teams engaged in a defensive stand-off for much of the fourth frame, until the 49ers broke through with under four minutes left in the ballgame. After a 36 yard reception from Workpeh Kofa, accompanied by a 15-yard reception from Tyler and a 18-yard rush from Aaron McAllister, the 49ers were within the Middle Tennessee 30. Klugh then found veteran receiver Trent Bostick downfield, and he converted the 26 yard reception for a touchdown.
The 49ers were not able to put any more points on the board, and the game finished with a final score of 35-21. With only two games remaining on this year’s slate, Charlotte will travel down to Hattiesburg next Saturday to take on Southern Miss. They will return home for the season finale on Nov. 25 to face FAU.