On Saturday, Sept. 8, the Charlotte 49ers faced off against in-state opponent Appalachian State for the first time in program history. After a close first half, App State was able to run away with the game and defeated the 49ers by a score of 45-9.
Quarterback Zac Thomas was a perfect 14-14 passing and finished with 295 yards along with four touchdowns, including one rushing. 49ers safety Ben Deluca was a bright spot for the 49ers defense with 11 total tackles which led to him becoming the third all-time in program history in tackles behind Karrington King and Larry Ogunjobi.
In front of a record-setting crowd of 19,151, the 49ers found themselves down 17-3 with 6:46 to go in the second quarter. After Chris Reynolds and Victor Tucker connected twice for first downs and a face mask by the Mountaineers, 49ers Kicker Jonathan Cruz set a school record for the longest field goal by a freshman in program history at 54 yards.
The Mountaineers went on to score another touchdown and Cruz knocked in one more field goal to end the first half with a score of 24-9 in favor of App State. Charlotte was unable to score the rest of the way due to costly turnovers and the pass rush by the Mountaineers giving the 49ers quarterbacks trouble.
Quarterback Reynolds was sacked three times in the game and had to come off the field a few times. This led to backup Hasaan Klugh seeing extended time, mainly being used as a rusher.
“We had a package for Hasaan we wanted to put in the game…we’ll still have that package for Haasan because we gotta get him involved in the game, I want him involved in the game so he can affect it,” Coach Brad Lambert said
Both teams played exceptional defense against the run in the game. Charlotte held Mountaineers running back Jalin Moore to 38 yards on 11 rushes. App State answered by holding 49ers RB Benny LeMay to 35 yards on 7 carries.
Although the outcome was lopsided, both teams would like to continue competing in the future. There was mutual respect held between the 49ers and the Mountaineers as they met at the 50-yard line at the end of the game.
“I want the fans to know that’s not a representation of who we are. It was a unique opportunity and I hope they continue to come back and we are gonna continue to build moving forward and it’s gonna be a great season,” DeLuca said
The 49ers return to Jerry Richardson Stadium on Sept. 15 to take on Conference USA opponent Old Dominion. Charlotte will look to bounce back from this game in the matchup with the Monarchs.