College Sports

Charlotte 49ers wanted more from the spring game than ‘just playing.’ The result ...

Charlotte 49ers redshirt sophomore running back Akease Rankin (29) scores a touchdown during Saturday’s spring football game at Richardson Stadium.
Charlotte 49ers redshirt sophomore running back Akease Rankin (29) scores a touchdown during Saturday’s spring football game at Richardson Stadium.

For the first time in program history, the Charlotte 49ers football team hosted its annual Green-White spring game Saturday without the 19 members of its first recruiting class.

Yet, even that didn’t account for the most noticeable change.

Coach Brad Lambert implemented a new scoring system for this year’s spring game, which pitted the offense (White) against the defense (Green). A touchdown equaled the traditional six points, but points were also rewarded for statistics such as first downs, explosive offensive plays, three-and-outs and red-zone stops.

In this revamped format, the offense defeated the defense, 50-29.

“I thought it was kind of fun,” Lambert said. “I had never done that before with the modified scoring. We tried to get something out of the spring game besides just playing.”

The format also included a running clock, and the coaching staff simulated a variety of game scenarios by placing the ball at different spots before each drive.

The offense scored on five of its seven opportunities in the red zone, one of the areas the coaching staff stressed.

“Overall, there were some good plays made on both sides of the ball,” Lambert said. “I think our guys have worked extremely hard this spring, and I think they had fun tonight.”

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Charlotte 49ers redshirt senior wide receiver Trent Bostick, right, stiff-arms redshirt sophomore linebacker Jeff Gemmell during Saturday’s spring football game at Richardson Stadium. Marty Price

Three who mattered

Trent Bostick, receiver: After redshirting last season, he led all receivers Saturday night with five catches for 65 yards. His longest reception was for 21 yards.

Hasaan Klugh, quarterback: Klugh, Charlotte’s starting quarterback, was 12-for-14 passing for 93 yards.

Anthony Butler, linebacker: Butler, who attended Vance High, was the defensive star of the game with seven tackles, including one for a loss.

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Charlotte 49ers redshirt junior quarterback Hasaan Klugh (7) throws a pass during Saturday’s spring football game at Richardson Stadium. Marty Price

Observations

▪  Redshirt junior Brooks Barden, the 49ers’ backup quarterback, was 5-for-9 passing and completed the only touchdown pass of the game — a 7-yard toss to H-back Ben Jacques. Barden completed two passes of 29 and 22 yards during a four-play span in the second quarter.

▪  Senior receiver Chris Montgomery was used in multiple roles on offense. He caught one pass for 22 yards, and he also carried the ball three times for 18 yards.

▪  Redshirt junior linebacker Juwan Foggie delivered the biggest hit of the night when he tackled receiver Nate Mullen 5 yards short of a first down on the first possession of the third quarter.

▪  Lambert said the coaching staff wanted to put some pressure on kickers Kyle Corbett and Jackson Vansickle. Corbett went 1-for-3 on field goals — his misses came from 31 and 32 yards out — and Vansickle was 2-for-2. Neither missed an extra point.

▪  The most comical moment of the game came in between the first and second quarters, when members of the offensive and defensive lines competed in a punt-return contest. The offense won, cleanly catching four punts compared to the defense’s three.

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Charlotte 49ers senior wide receiver Chris Montgomery (4) finds some running room during Saturday’s spring football game at Richardson Stadium Marty Price

Worth mentioning

▪  Wearing No. 95 and rotating in at defensive end was redshirt senior Reid Aube, who completed his fourth and final year of eligibility for the Charlotte men’s basketball team last season. “It’s a different game,” Lambert said, “but he’s a long, athletic guy so we want to look at him and see if he really wants to play.”

▪  Redshirt senior Jordan Starnes, who has moved from linebacker to H-back/tight end, suffered a knee injury midway through the third quarter. Following the game, Lambert said he hadn’t talked to the team doctors yet about Starnes’ status.

▪  The most notable absences for the 49ers were redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Randy Suydam and redshirt sophomore linebacker Darius Irvin. Suydam is working on getting situated academically.

▪  Richardson Stadium hosted 8,253 fans for Saturday's game.

▪  The 49ers welcomed back several former football alumni, including recently departed defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi and receiver Austin Duke. Ogunjobi will likely become the first player in program history to be selected in the NFL Draft, which begins Thursday. Ogunjobi said he’ll be watching the draft at his family’s home in Greensboro.

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