College Sports

Charlotte 49ers’ rally falls short, bowl hopes dashed in loss to Middle Tennessee

Before Saturday’s home finale at Richardson Stadium against Middle Tennessee, the Charlotte 49ers’ seniors posed for a picture. However, the Blue Raiders spoiled the day, winning 38-31 in the Conference USA game.
Before Saturday’s home finale at Richardson Stadium against Middle Tennessee, the Charlotte 49ers’ seniors posed for a picture. However, the Blue Raiders spoiled the day, winning 38-31 in the Conference USA game.

As quarterback Hasaan Klugh’s pass sailed through the air, the Charlotte football team’s hopes of reaching a bowl in its first year of eligibility hung in the balance.

But when the ball hit the turf at Richardson Stadium, those hopes quickly faded. The incompletion resulted in a turnover on downs with 25 seconds left in the third quarter, and Middle Tennessee (7-4, 4-3 C-USA) ran out the clock, cementing a 38-31 loss on Saturday.

The 49ers (4-7, 3-4) trailed 31-13 with 2 minutes, 48 seconds left in the third quarter, but they mounted a late comeback, scoring 18 unanswered points to tie the Blue Raiders at 31 when Klugh threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Workpeh Kofa and then scored on the ensuing two-point conversion.

But Ty Lee’s 61-yard touchdown run moments later gave the Blue Raiders a lead they wouldn’t relinquish and spoiled Charlotte’s senior day.

Three who mattered

John Urzua, Middle Tennessee: After registering three touchdown passes in his career, the redshirt freshman quarterback threw four on Saturday.

Klugh, Charlotte: The 49ers’ sophomore rushed for three touchdowns, becoming the first Charlotte player to accomplish that feat at the FBS level.

Daquan Lucas, Charlotte: The linebacker’s interception of Urzua with 4:59 left set up the tying score.

Observations

▪  Before the game, Charlotte honored its 27 seniors, including 19 fifth-year seniors who were in the 49ers’ first recruiting class.

▪ Much of Middle Tennessee's success on its first two drives came on third downs, as the Blue Raiders went 4-for-4. They went 0-for-10 the rest of the game. Charlotte also struggled on third down, going 4-for-20.

▪  The 49ers looked prime to score after receiver Austin Duke’s 55-yard catch midway through the fourth quarter, moving the ball to the Middle Tennessee . But running back Robert Washington was later stopped short on fourth-and-2. It was one of three times Charlotte didn’t score on its eight red-zone trips.

Worth mentioning

▪  After sitting out last week’s game against Rice with a back injury, offensive lineman Jamal Covington started at left tackle. However, the redshirt senior left the game after re-aggravating the injury on the final play of the first quarter.

▪  Charlotte cornerback Anthony Covington sustained an injury late in the fourth quarter after making a big hit on a second-down pass. He was remained the ground for about five minutes before he was placed on a stretcher and escorted to an ambulance. Coach Brad Lambert didn’t have an update on Covington’s injury.

▪  Offensive lineman Chris Brown (concussion) and defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi (ankle) also left the game with injuries.

They said it

“I’m really proud of them. They fought back and have a lot to play for next week to finish .500 in the league. We’ll lean hard on our seniors this week to make sure we’re ready to play when we go to San Antonio, and it will mean a lot for us as we continue to build.” – Lambert on his team’s comeback.

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