Coach Brad Lambert stood in the locker room of one of the more-difficult places in college football to win and marveled at what his team had done.
Lambert’s Charlotte 49ers had just defeated Marshall 27-24 Saturday at Joan C. Edwards Stadium, a facility in opened in 1991. Since then, the Thundering Herd’s record is 150-29, an .837 winning percentage. That ranks second nationally to Georgia Southern’s .845 among teams that have played 50 or more home games.
“These guys, they don’t realize what they’ve just done,” Lambert said, nodding toward his players. “To come in here and beat Marshall, a great program with so many All-Americans, so many guys who have gone on to the NFL, this is special.”
Lambert can appreciate how special. He was a Herd assistant under Jim Donnan from 1990 through 1995. When Amoreto Curraj’s tying 40-yard field goal with 1 minute, 14 seconds to play sailed wide left, the 49ers needed only to run out the clock to secure arguably the biggest win in the four-year history of Charlotte football.
“From where I was on the sideline, I thought it was good and we were going to overtime,” Lambert said of Curraj’s miss. “Then our players started going crazy.”
Lambert smiled broadly as he talked about the win that improved Charlotte’s record to 3-5 overall and 2-2 in Conference USA. He reminisced about the late Phil Ratliff, an assistant coach at Charlotte and All-American guard at Marshall in 1992. Ratliff died from a cardiac episode in 2015.
“There was a lot of emotion,” Lambert said. “I worked here, coach Ratliff played here and his family was here tonight. This building, we modeled ours at Charlotte after this building.”
Lambert said he particularly was thrilled for the 49ers seniors.
“This senior class came in here when we didn’t have anything,” Lambert said. “This win is huge for them. They took us at our word when they signed with us. I’m so happy for all of them.”
▪ Senior running back Kalif Phillips led the 49ers with 123 yards and two touchdowns, scoring on runs of 1 and 5 yards.
▪ Sophomore quarterback Hasaan Klugh, making his third start, passed for 203 yards and rushed for 41, including his 2-yard touchdown with 8:32 left that proved to be the winning score.
Charlotte has this week off. It’s next game is Saturday, Nov. 5 at Southern Miss. Kickoff is 3:30 p.m. The televised broadcast will be carried locally by WCCB.