The Charlotte 49ers have struggled on both sides of the ball this season – the offense starting slowly and not maintaining any momentum, the defense giving up too many big plays.
Both played a factor in the 49ers losing their Conference USA opener Saturday night, 52-17 to Old Dominion, at Richardson Stadium to extend their conference losing streak to nine games.
Quarterback David Washington threw for 256 yards and three touchdowns for the Monarchs (3-2, 2-0), who jumped out to a 31-10 halftime lead against Charlotte (1-4, 0-1), which has lost its past three games.
Old Dominion set a school record for margin of victory in the C-USA game by beating Texas-San Antonio last week 33-19. The Monarchs tripled that against the 49ers before the third quarter ended.
Washington threw TD passes of 25 yards to Zach Pascal in the first quarter, 55 yards to Travis Fulgham in the second quarter, and 9 yards to Isaiah Harper early in the third quarter before coming out of the game.
Jeremy Cox added three short touchdown runs for Old Dominion, and Gemonta Jackson broke loose on a 37-yard touchdown run that staked the Monarchs to a 42-point lead in the closing seconds of the third quarter.
ODU kicker Brad Davis also went 6-for-6 on extra-point kicks and connected on a 35-yard field goal in the second quarter.
Kevin Olsen threw for 145 yards and one touchdown for the 49ers, hitting Kalif Phillips on a 42-yard catch-and-run touchdown with 2 seconds remaining in the first half.
Olsen also threw an interception that set up a Monarchs touchdown, and a sack-and-fumble early in the third quarter set up another ODU score.
Charlotte’s remaining points came off a 23-yard field goal by Steven Muscarello late in the first quarter, and backup quarterback Hasaan Klugh’s 3-yard keeper late in the fourth.
Three who mattered
Washington: He threw for 221 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, and ran for 22 yards as the Monarchs built a 21-point halftime lead, starting the landslide.
Cox: The Monarchs’ backup running back had a career performance with his first three-touchdown game, scoring on 1-yard runs twice in the first quarter, and another 1-yarder in the third quarter.
Phillips: The redshirt senior had Charlotte’s only bright spot offensively, with his career-best 42-yard catch-and-run the second TD reception of his career. His previous best was a 40-yarder in 2013.
▪ Charlotte’s first-quarter scoring woes continued against Old Dominion. The 49ers managed to get in the red zone once (and that came from recovering a fumbled punt), and only got Muscarello’s field goal out of it. For the season, the 49ers have been outscored 66-10 in the opening 15 minutes.
▪ Charlotte’s pass defense gave up two long touchdowns to wide-open receivers in the first half – the 25-yarder to Pascal, and the 55-yarder to Fulgham.
▪ Two interesting stats from the first half – Charlotte actually had more first downs (13) than Old Dominion (12), and a decided advantage in time of possession (17 minutes, 30 seconds to 12:30 for the Monarchs).
▪ Charlotte cornerback Kedrick Davis, a North Carolina transfer who played at Berry Academy, had his third interception of the season early in the third quarter. He is one pick away from the 49ers’ record (four), set by Terrance Winchester last year.
▪ Charlotte and Old Dominion players joined together at midfield before the game for a “circle of unity,” an idea created by Monarchs players in response to recent police shootings in Charlotte and Tulsa, Okla. Old Dominion coach Bobby Wilder talked to 49ers coach Brad Lambert about the idea earlier in the week, and Lambert agreed to have Charlotte’s players take part.
▪ Redshirt sophomore Nate Davis, Charlotte’s starting right guard, was chosen by Lambert to wear the traditional No. 49 jersey. Davis was in his assigned No. 64 jersey for the game, though – the 49ers don’t have a No. 49 jersey big enough to fit his 6-foot-3, 299-pound frame.
▪ Charlotte will travel for its next C-USA game, playing Florida Atlantic on Oct. 8 at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Fla. Game time is 3:30 p.m.