After beginning the season as the team picked to finish last in the East Division and a 1-11 record in 2017, the Charlotte 49ers remain with their heads high and their sights set on some season-opening wins.
Last season, it seemed as if the Niners would get to the end of the season and have suffered heartbreak with a winless year. Instead, they showed fans why sticking around until the end of the game is always worth it and turned their Homecoming game into an amazing win.
After nearly ending the third quarter down 17-0 to UAB, quarterback Hasaan Klugh had a nine-yard touchdown run accompanied by an extra-point kick from Nigel Macauley to bring the score to 17-7.
Charlotte worked hard to rally in the second half. In the fourth quarter, Trent Bostick caught a 68-yard pass from Klugh to make it 17-14 with an extra point from Macauley. Macauley later helped to tie Charlotte with UAB by way of a 24-yard field goal. Regulation time ended and a victor had still yet to emerge, so the teams would continue the matchup in overtime.
The 49ers gave the Blazers the first go at offense in order to know what they needed to put up on the board to pull out a win. UAB scored to gain a 24-17 lead over the 49ers. Eight plays and 25 yards later, Klugh tallied his seventh touchdown of the season with a one-yard TD to put Charlotte on top at 25-24 in OT.
The Charlotte 49ers showed exactly how much heart they have in their single win of the 2017 season and intend to start the season off with even better energy.
With last season in mind, the Niners needed to make a lot of changes in order to work their way toward where they want to be in the future.
Plenty of new faces have been brought in this year, including coaching staff as well as players. A big change in the coaching staff was the addition of Charlotte’s new offensive coordinator, Shane Montgomery, who is just as optimistic as the guys putting on the pads.
“I know that we’re not happy with where the program is right now coming off of last year. But, that has nothing to do with last year. We have a great group of players, kids that worked really hard in the offseason and we’ve hired some new coaches and I think there’s a really good feeling around the program and we’re looking forward to Sept. 1,” Montgomery said.
Another new face around the stadium is Miami graduate, quarterback Evan Shirreffs. Shirreffs was the Hurricane’s backup QB this past year and looks to be a contender for a starter on the Niners offense.
“We’ll see how that shakes out, whether it’s Evan, Chris, Hasaan, who that guy is once we start playing live plays in camp, so we’ll see as that moves along who wins the job,” said Coach Brad Lambert.
Not only are there new members of the program, but along with a new season has come a new energy in the 49ers. They feel as if they have nothing to lose and plan to put it all on the field, letting their hard work do the talking.
“We’re excited for the season to come and we want to put a show on for the fans, they deserve to see us win. They’ve been supporting us for the most part and we’re going to do everything we can, and fill the stadium,” said running back Benny LeMay.
LeMay and the Niners will begin a three-game home series on Sept. 1 at 6 p.m. in Jerry Richardson Stadium against Fordham University, who finished their 2017 season with a 4-7 record overall.