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Charlotte to face their toughest test against Clemson

The Charlotte 49ers had another convincing win as they defeated Massachusetts 52-17. The momentum they built up in the game will be much needed as the Niners face their toughest opponent in school history. Charlotte will be traveling on the road to take on the defending national champions and top-ranked Clemson Tigers this weekend. The high powered offense of the Charlotte 49ers led by Chris Reynolds and Benny LeMay will look to pull off a shocking upset against the dominant Clemson defense.

Charlotte 49ers players to watch

Benny LeMay

The Doak Walker Award nominee has been one of Charlotte’s strongest aspects of the team. His power and speed have helped build a strong running game this season. LeMay has averaged just over 7.6 yards per rush and has scored four rushing touchdowns on 46 carries this season. The power and speed combination that LeMay has can pose a threat to the Clemson defense that is loaded with talent. LeMay looks to repeat what he has done the past three weeks against the Clemson Tigers this weekend.

Alex Highsmith

Highsmith has wreaked havoc on the defensive line this season. So far this season, Highsmith has recorded 16 total tackles (eight solos and eight assisted) and four sacks in three games. Highsmith, along with the rest of the defensive line, will look to put pressure on Trevor Lawerence as well as lockdown Travis Etienne.

Clemson Tigers players to watch

Tee Higgins

Higgins will pose a major threat to the Charlotte defense this weekend. His size can be an issue for defenders because he can win jump balls like he already has this season. Combine that with his speed and catching ability, then you have a receiver who can be extremely difficult to cover. The numbers definitely show. So far, Higgins has 318 yards and one touchdown on just 15 receptions

Isaiah Simmons

Simmons has been everywhere at the linebacker position. His quickness has made him a very important piece to the linebacker core as well as the defense as a whole. His ability to get to the quarterback has helped the pass rush as well. His presence could be an issue for the Charlotte 49er offense.

Keys to the Game

Get in tempo early

If the Charlotte offense can find a way to get in tempo early and get Chris Reynolds comfortable, they could give the Clemson defense some issues. When the 49ers run the quick tempo that they have ran previously, the offense could run much smoother. This tempo also tends to lead the points at the end of the drive. If the Niners can establish this quick tempo early, they could tire out this Clemson defense and keep the game close throughout.

Limit special teams mistakes

One of the issues in the Appalachian State game was special teams. They allowed a blocked punt and a kickoff return for a touchdown. This was still an issue last weekend against Massachusetts. Last weekend, the 49ers allowed a punt return for a touchdown. This is an aspect of the game that Charlotte needs to improve upon. If they can limit those mistakes, the Niners could have a chance in this game.

Pressure Trevor Lawerence

Up to this point, Trevor Lawerence has had a worse year statistically compared to last season. His accuracy has dropped and has been more turnover prone than the previous year. If Charlotte can get pressure on Lawerence and force some turnovers, the Niners could have a shot at pulling off the upset.

The 49ers and the Tigers face off this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on the ACC Network.

Charlotte 49ers fall to Mountaineers in an epic matchup 56-41

A hard-fought battle took place between the Appalachian State Mountaineers and the Charlotte 49ers at Kidd Brewer Stadium. Despite every effort that the Niners gave, they fell short and were defeated by the Mountaineers 56-41 in an epic face-off.  

Touchdowns were coming early as the Mountaineers opened up with an 87-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage. A couple drives later, the Niners responded with a touchdown of their own by giving it to Benny LeMay. After the two teams traded touchdown drives, the score was 14-13 Mountaineers heading towards the end of the half. After a blocked punt and a strip sack by the Mountaineers, Charlotte trailed 28-13 at halftime. 

The second half is when the air attack came alive. Chris Reynolds helped lead the team back into the game by throwing four touchdown passes in the second half.  He also had help from Micaleous Elder, Victor Tucker and Cameron Dollar. Reynolds tossed two touchdown passes to Tucker and one touchdown pass to Dollar at the start of the second half. Unfortunately, the Niners were unable to complete the comeback despite many Appalachian State penalties late in the game. 

Takeaways

One of the biggest takeaways from this game is how hard the team fought the entire game despite the challenges they faced throughout.

“We responded to adversity and there’s a lot of fight in this football team. We never laid down and that will be an MO of our football team,” said Head Coach Will Healy. “We’ve got a group of really competitive coaches and players and we’re going to fight for 60 minutes. We did that today against a great football team in a great environment and gave ourselves an opportunity to win the thing late.”

The fight that Coach Healy talks about showed itself as they gave the Mountaineers a tough game. The same Mountaineer team that some believe could be a top 25 team in the country. And the fact that the Niners fought as hard as they did against the Mountaineers on their home field with all the adversity is nothing short of impressive. 

Standout Performances

Reynolds had a slow first half, only completing four of nine passes for 65 yards and zero touchdowns. The second half was a completely different story though. In the second half, Reynolds completed 16 of 22 passes for 231 yards and four touchdowns. At the end of the day, Reynolds had an exceptional day by throwing a career high 294 yards along with his four touchdowns and completing 20 of his 31 passes. 

LeMay had a good night as well. The Doak Walker Award nominee put up 118 yards on just 14 carries. LeMay also had two rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown. The two rushing touchdowns helped propel him into third all-time in career rushing touchdowns with 20. 

Multiple members of the receiving core showed out to help the Niners in their efforts. Elder lead the team in receiving with 119 yards on six receptions. Tucker had six receptions for 90 yards and two touchdown receptions. Dollar also helped contribute by catching four passes for 53 yards and one touchdown. 

The Charlotte 49ers return home as they take on Massachusetts in Jerry Richardson Stadium at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14.