The Charlotte 49ers opened their second season of football Thursday the same way they started their first a year ago: with a victory against the Campbell Camels.
This time, the 49ers beat the Camels 33-9 in front of a record crowd of 6,472 at Barker-Lane Stadium. Charlotte trounced the Camels 52-7 last season at Richardson Stadium.
It didn’t come easily, however. The 49ers (1-0) led just 6-3 at halftime, struggling as much with the humid weather as the Camels (0-1), who don’t offer scholarships and are playing under second-year coach Mike Minter, a former Carolina Panthers star.
But a 21-point third quarter – with all three touchdowns coming from running back Kalif Phillips – did the trick for Charlotte.
“I liked the way we responded in the second half,” said 49ers coach Brad Lambert. “We were able to execute much better and get some big plays offensively. I thought our defense played well pretty much the whole game.”
Phillips’ first score came on a 3-yard run, capping a 10-play, 63-yard drive. The second was set up by a 38-yard pass from quarterback Matt Johnson to Austin Duke, who stumbled at the 1. Phillips’ third touchdown, a 10-yarder, came after H-back Justin Bolus broke loose for a 62-yard reception (the longest in school history).
That would do it for the night for Phillips, who left the game with leg cramps and the score 27-3.
By then it was too late for the Camels, whose next game is Sept. 9 at Appalachian State.
“It’s the old football adage,” said Minter, whose team plays at Appalachian State on Sept. 6. “It’s four quarters, not two. We did a pretty good job hanging in there until that third quarter. But we’re learning how to win and to do that you’ve got to play four quarters. And you can’t do that against a team like Charlotte that’s bigger, faster and stronger.”
The 49ers rolled up 453 yards in total yards, with Charlotte’s defense limiting Campbell to 341. Phillips had 70 yards to go along with his school-record tying three touchdowns. But Charlotte’s leading rusher was true freshman Maetron Thomas (74 yards), who scored on a 40-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, the carry of his college career.
“We came out of halftime with a new mindset,” said Duke, who caught seven passes for 51 yards. “We had a slow start, but the defense had our back. We had first-game jitters, but we did what we’ve been doing in preseason camp and got to it.”
The 49ers’ best offensive players in the first half were Phillips, who gained 46 yards on eight carries, and kicker Blake Brewer.
The 49ers got their first half points on a pair of Brewer field goals. The first, which gave Charlotte a 3-0 lead with 7 minutes, 10 seconds left in the first quarter, was a school-record 50-yarder. The old record, set by Brewer last season, was 43 yards.
Brewer also hit a 38-yarder with eight seconds left in the quarter.
The Camels cut the lead to 6-3 with eight seconds left in the half on a 25-yard field goal by Mitchell Brown.
CHARLOTTE 33, CAMPBELL 9
|Time of Possession||23:30||36:30|