Charlotte’s lone win last season came against the UAB Blazers at home in overtime, and they were looking to continue their winning ways against UAB on Saturday, Sept. 29. However, the 49ers got off to a sluggish start and fell to the Blazers on the road 28-7.
Charlotte (2-3, 1-1 C-USA) came out of the gates slow again for the second straight week, allowing back to back touchdowns on the first two possessions for the Blazers. UAB (3-1, 1-0 C-USA) scored on the opening drive of the game when AJ Erdely found Andre Wilson for a 35-yard touchdown.
Charlotte was able to move the ball down the field on their opening possession, but the drive ended when Chris Reynolds threw the ball into traffic and was intercepted by the UAB defense. The Blazers then drove 73 yards down the field and scored their second touchdown of the game. This marks back-to-back games where Charlotte has allowed touchdowns on the opponents’ first two possessions.
One of Charlotte’s weaknesses this season is getting the offense going early in games. In the last two outings, Charlotte has been held scoreless in the first quarter while allowing 42 points combined. Through five games this season, Charlotte has been outscored 58-10 in the first quarter.
UAB continued to scorch the 49er defense in the second quarter when AJ Erdely ran the ball in from four yards out for the score which capped off a 75 yard touchdown drive for the Blazers. Charlotte was unable to get anything going on offense in the first half as the 49ers were held to 55 yards of offense in the entire first half. On the other side, UAB finished the half with 284 total yards and lead 21-0 at halftime.
The 49er defense held strong in the second half, forcing UAB to go three-and-out on their first three drives. Charlotte had a promising drive in the third quarter as they marched down the field to the Blazer 44 yard line. The drive ended when Reynolds threw an incomplete pass intended for Mark Quattlebaum, turning the ball over on downs.
Charlotte’s offense played a lot better in the second half as the offense accounted for 208 total yards. Charlotte’s longest play from scrimmage came in the fourth quarter when Chris Reynolds found Rico Arnold on a fly route for 48 yards. Later in the drive, Charlotte would score their lone touchdown of the game when Reynolds scored off of a designed quarterback run from four yards out.
Charlotte had a chance to hold UAB to a field goal late in the fourth quarter when AJ Erdely threw an incomplete pass on third down. However, Charlotte was called for a pass interference call on the play, which led to a rushing touchdown from Spencer Brown, giving the Blazers a 28-7 lead.
Charlotte finished the game with 263 total yards, while UAB finished the game with a total of 330 yards of offense. The Blazers were held to 46 total yards of offense in the second half.
In the last two games, Chris Reynolds has thrown for a combined 485 passing yards and five touchdowns. However, Reynolds could not continue to throw with his hot hand tonight as he finished the game 17-of-25 passing for only 194 yards and one interception against the Blazers.
Rico Arnold finished the game with six receptions for 101 yards for the Niners, marking Arnold’s first 100-yard receiving game of his young career. Through five games this season, Charlotte has had a receiver reach 100 receiving yards in three games while only recording one in 2017.
One bright spot for Charlotte was the rushing attack from Benny LeMay, who ended the game with 14 carries for 83 yards. LeMay now has a total of 1321 rushing yards in his career, which moves him into second for all-time rushing yards at Charlotte, only behind Kalif Phillips.
UAB came into Saturday’s game averaging 280 rushing yards per game, the 8th best in the nation. Charlotte made an emphasis to stop the strong rushing attack from the Blazers, as the Niners held UAB to a season-low 116 rushing yards.
Charlotte has next Saturday off as they have their bye week. The 49ers will look to start strong in October when they take on the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers on Saturday, Oct. 13 at 3:30 p.m. at Jerry Richardson Stadium.