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Charlotte 49ers football: Familiar schedule for 2014

49ERS
TODD SUMLIN - tsumlin@charlotteobserver.com
Charlotte QB Matt Johnson throws down field against Campbell at Richardson Stadium.

The Charlotte 49ers’ 2014 football schedule is pretty similar to the one they faced in their inaugural season of 2013. So measuring whether they’re better than the 5-6 record they turned in last sason won’t be that difficult to do.

Like they did in 2013, the 49ers – who are playing one final season as an NCAA Football Championship Subdivision independent – will play a slate dominated by FCS opposition, with a few games against teams from lower divisions sprinkled in.

The 49ers have a year of experience now, in addition to an increased number of players on scholarship (from 63 to 74) as they prepare to head to the Football Bowl Subdivision’s Conference USA in 2015.

They will face teams on either end of the FCS spectrum. Coastal Carolina is now a perennial national power, as is James Madison (although the Dukes slipped to 6-6 last season). The non-scholarship Pioneer League’s Campbell and Morehead State – whom the 49ers beat by a combined 113-24 last season – are also back on the schedule.

The 49ers play just one Division II school, cross-town rival Johnson C. Smith. Charlotte went 1-1 against Division II teams last season, beating Chowan but getting thoroughly outplayed by UNC Pembroke (a 45-22 loss).

Back on the schedule is Division III power Wesley (Del.), which beat the 49ers 35-28 last season.

The schedule is back-loaded with home games. Charlotte closes the season with four consecutive games at Richardson Stadium after opening with five of their first seven on the road.

The 2015 season schedule will be vastly different. In addition to eight C-USA games, the 49ers will play home games against FBS opponents Georgia State and Temple and a home game against the FCS’ Presbyterian. Charlotte is still looking for one more nonconference game.

49ers football schedule analysis

Aug. 28: At Campbell

7 p.m., Barker-Lane Stadium, Buies Creek

Last season: 3-9 (lost to Charlotte 52-7).

NCAA classification: Division I FCS (Pioneer).

Briefly: Second-year coach Mike Minter returns 18 starters from last season, including linebacker Matt Farris, who had 77 tackles … Punter Adam Lutz (Waxhaw Cuthbertson High) was one of the best in the Pioneer League last season, averaging 41.7 yards.

Sept. 6: Johnson C. Smith

Noon, Richardson Stadium

Last season: 5-5.

NCAA classification: Division II (CIAA).

Briefly: The Golden Bulls, predicted to finish seventh in the CIAA, have a standout defensive lineman in Jovantey Williams, an all-conference performer last season who had 12.5 sacks … Punter Matia Lambrect (43-yard average) is a preseason all-CIAA pick.

Sept. 13: N.C. Central

5 p.m., O’Kelly-Riddick Stadium, Durham

Last season: 5-7 (beat Charlotte 40-13).

NCAA classification: Division I FCS (Mid-Eastern Athletic).

Briefly: The Eagles, who handed Charlotte its first loss last season, have a new coach in Jerry Mack and have to replace standout quarterback Jordan Reid … Junior College transfer Quinn Billerman and Malcolm Bell are competing for that spot … Billerman is the son of former Charlotte assistant basketball coach Kevin Billerman.

Sept. 20: Elon

7 p.m., Rhodes Stadium, Elon

Last season: 2-10

NCAA classification: Division I FCS (Colonial Athletic).

Briefly: The Phoenix have a new coach in Rich Skrosky … Elon struggled in their final season in the Southern Conference and is playing for the first time this season in the CAA … The Phoenix, a preseason pick to finish last in the league, have standouts in offensive lineman Austin Sowell and defensive back Miles Williams, who missed last season with a medical redshirt.

Sept. 27: Charleston Southern

Noon, Richardson Stadium

Last season: 10-3 (beat Charlotte 36-14)

NCAA classification: Division I FCS (Big South)

Briefly: The Buccaneers have a potent 1-2 offensive punch in quarterback Danny Croghan (1,014 yards, seven TDs last season) and running back Christian Reyes (1,254 yards, nine TDs) ... Defensive back Demaris Freeman is an all-Big South preseason pick.

Oct. 4: Gardner-Webb

1:30 p.m., Spangler Stadium, Boiling Springs, N.C.

Last season: 7-5 (lost to Charlotte 53-51)

NCAA classification: Division I FCS (Big South)

Briefly: Charlotte travels to Boiling Springs for a rematch of last season’s entertaining 49ers victory … The Bulldogs have 17 starters back, including six fifth-year seniors on offense … Kenny Cook led the Big South in receptions (76), yardage (1,008) and touchdowns (nine).

Oct. 11: The Citadel

2 p.m., Johnson Hagood Stadium, Charleston

Last season: 5-7

NCAA classification: Division I FCS (Southern)

Briefly: New coach Mike Houston led Lenoir-Rhyne to last season’s NCAA Division II championship game … Defensive lineman Justin Oxendine’s 11.5 tackles-for-loss and 4.5 sacks earned him all-Southern Conference honors last season.

Oct. 25: James Madison

Noon, Richardson Stadium

Last season: 6-6 (beat Charlotte 34-7)

NCAA classification: Division I FCS (Colonial Athletic)

Briefly: The Dukes’ uncharacteristically mediocre season in 2013 cost long-time coach Mickey Matthews his job … He’s been replaced by former North Carolina coach Everett Withers … The Dukes also picked up Georgia Tech transfer Vad Lee at quarterback … Dean Marlowe is one of the CAA’s top defensive backs and punt returners.

Nov. 8: Coastal Carolina

Noon, Richardson Stadium

Last season: 12-3 (beat Charlotte 50-25)

NCAA classification: Division I FCS (Big South)

Briefly: The powerful Chanticleers advanced to last season’s FCS quarterfinals, where they lost to North Dakota State … Quarterback Alex Ross is the Big South’s preseason offensive player of the year and linebacker Quinn Backus is the league’s top preseason defensive player.

Nov. 15: Wesley (Del.)

Noon, Richardson Stadium

Last season: 10-3 (beat Charlotte 35-28)

NCAA Classification: Division III

Briefly: After beating the 49ers, the Wolverines continued on to another successful season, advancing to the DIII playoffs quarterfinals … It was the eighth time in nine seasons Wesley had made it that far in the postseason … The Wolverines are ranked fifth in the DIII preseason poll and return 18 starters, including quarterback Joe Callahan.

Nov. 22: Morehead State

Noon, Richardson Stadium

Last season: 3-9 (lost to Charlotte 61-17)

NCAA classification: Division I FCS (Pioneer)

Briefly: The Eagles have a dangerous all-around offensive threat in Brandon Bornhauser, who averaged 26.7 yards on 22 kick returns and 7.8 yards on 14 punt returns in 2013. He also had 163 yards rushing for seven touchdowns and 16 catches for 138 yards and two scores.

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