CLINTON, S.C. Kalif Phillips has a tried and true description of the Charlotte 49ers’ running attack – which happens to involve himself and Alan Barnwell.
“It’s like a dynamic duo right there,” said Phillips, who rushed for 79 yards and two touchdowns in Charlotte’s 45-21 victory Saturday against Presbyterian. “Speed back, power back. Switch whenever somebody gets tired. Always have somebody back there ready to tote the ball.”
Barnwell, who gained 88 yards and scored twice, is the speed back to Phillips’ power. They’re combining for 113 yards per game with nearly identical stats – Barnwell averages 57 yards and Phillips 56.
A redshirt freshman from Burlington, Barnwell has been the starter and has been in the program one year longer than Phillips, a true freshman from Kannapolis.
“He’s a complete back,” Phillips said of Barnwell. “He’s just like me, getting better and better each day, no matter what happens in the game.”
Quarterback Matt Johnson was able to hand off to Barnwell and Phillips a lot after the 49ers established its offense midway through the second quarter.
“I love it with them back there,” Johnson said. “I don’t feel alone. We can switch runners. When one gets tired, we can rely on the other. I just have to distribute the ball to them.”
Phillips’ touchdown was an eye opener. It came on a 7-yard run up the middle in the third quarter with him running over at least two Presbyterian defenders.
Phillips also returned a kickoff 27 yards, the last several of which he also ran over a few Presbyterian players.
“I’ll (run over) as many as I need to,” Phillips said. “I have no problem with that.”
• Charlotte led 28-14 at halftime and junior safety Desmond Cooper quickly made sure the 49ers wouldn’t give it up.
On Presbyterian’s first offensive play from scrimmage of the second half, Cooper tackled Blue Hose slotback Jeremiah McKie for a 1-yard loss. On the next play, Cooper intercepted a Kaleb Griffin pass at the Presbyterian 30. Three plays later, the 49ers led 35-14 and the rout was on.
“I guess I was feeling myself on those plays,” said Cooper, a transfer from Wake Forest. “I was in the right place at the right time on them. The coaches did a good job of putting us in place and making the right checks. I was there to make the play.”
As one of Charlotte’s few experienced players, Cooper has a lot of responsibility.
“My message to Des, day in and day out, is to continue to show up,” said 49ers secondary coach James Adams. “He does a good job of lining the guys up, making all our checks and being the guy in charge. But he’s got to make plays. He did today.”
• Because of a concussion suffered by starting right guard Daniel Blitch against James Madison last week, the 49ers’ offensive line underwent a few changes. Left guard Mason Sledge shifted to Blitch’s spot, with Casey Perry starting in Sledge’s place. Jarred Barr also spelled center Thomas La Bianca for several plays.
With linebacker Micah Bryan also out with a concussion, redshirt freshman Daquan Lucas also saw a lot of action.
“It was next man in,” said coach Brad Lambert. “With it being our second road game, it was a little nerve-wracking. But all those guys did great.”
• With the game being televised on ESPN3, video replay was available and will be so for the rest of the Big South’s TV games this season. The replay was used three times, with no plays overturned.
• For a second week in a row, an opposing quarterback kicked a pooch punt on fourth down. This week, it was Presbyterian’s Kaleb Griffin, whose kick went 19 yards and inside the 20.
• Junior defensive end Devon Johnson wore Charlotte’s honorary No. 49.
By the numbers
5.5 Charlotte’s average rushing yardage.
106 All-purpose yards by Kalif Phillips.
7 Tackles for loss by Charlotte
18.5 Presbyterian’s net yards per kickoff
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