The Charlotte 49ers recorded their first Conference USA victory Sunday, beating Florida Atlantic 28-23 behind an impressive first start by quarterback Hasaan Klugh and an overturned Hail Mary touchdown pass on the game’s final play.
Holding the lead, the 49ers (2-4, 1-1) fumbled with just over a minute remaining. The Owls (1-5, 0-2) then moved to Charlotte’s 38 with six seconds to play.
Quarterback Jason Driskel lobbed a pass to Kamrin Solomon, who caught the ball in the back of the end zone. The officials called it a touchdown, setting off a celebration on the home side.
However, a lengthy review led officials to overturn the score, ruling that Solomon had control but landed out of bounds. Charlotte players then rushed the field in their own celebration.
Klugh, a redshirt sophomore, threw for three touchdowns and ran for another. He finished 14 of 17 for 223 yards and one interception.
Austin Duke, T.L. Ford II and Justin Bolus caught touchdown passes.
FAU’s Greg Howell rushed for three scores.
Three who mattered
▪ Klugh: A Concord native, Klugh didn’t find out until Sunday that he was starting, but he made the most of it. He also ran for 54 yards and a score.
▪ RB Kalif Phillips: A workhorse back, he rushed for 132 yards on 23 carries, marking the third straight game he’s had more than 100 yards from scrimmage.
▪ DB Ben DeLuca: An Orlando native, he returned to Florida and recorded an interception and a season-high 14 tackles, breaking Nick Cook’s high of 12.
▪ Wide receiver Duke eclipsed the 3,000-yard mark by hauling in five catches for 110 yards, giving him 3,041 for his career.
▪ The 49ers rebounded from 11- and 13-play scoring drives by FAU that gave the Owls a 14-10 lead in just over one quarter before leading 21-17 at the break.
▪ Charlotte coach Brad Lambert said waiting out the reversal on the Hail Mary was tough: “The guys (upstairs) and our kids thought he was out, but based on the ruling on the field … with replay there has to be evidence to overturn it. That was the thing that scared me. It was a tough wait.”
▪ The Owls stunned the 49ers when Rashad Smith easily recovered an onside kick in stride at the home sideline after FAU took a 10-7 lead. Charlotte then forced a three-and-out.
▪ Duke’s 69-yard touchdown catch was the eighth-longest in school history. Duke, an Independence High graduate, owns seven of the eight.
▪ Ford’s 37-yard scoring grab capped a 90-second drive, the sixth time this year the offense has scored in that time or less.
▪ DeLuca stopped an FAU drive during the third quarter with his first career interception. He was helped by a strong pass rush by Randy Suydam, who hurried Driskel.
They said it
▪ “The guys are extremely excited in there. We finally did it. It was a huge moment for us. We just have to keep preparing hard and practicing hard.” – Lambert, on his team’s first C-USA win
▪ “I thought I had a decent game today. All thanks to the line, backs and receivers for that. It was a great opportunity. I knew I had to keep the team up and be a leader.” – Klugh, on his first start
▪ “It was good to be back. (FAU) was one of the few schools that recruited me. I had to prove to them that I was a collegiate player, and as a true freshmen, I’m always going to be tried.” – DeLuca, on coming home and facing the Owls