Franklin “Mac” McCain III, the grandson of a historic civil rights figure, returned an interception 74 yards Saturday night, ruining the Charlotte 49ers’ comeback and lifting N.C. A&T to a 35-31 victory.
It was the second interception of the game for McCain, whose grandfather, Franklin, was among four students whose February 1960 sit-in at a Greensboro Woolworth store was a key event in the civil rights movement.
The Aggies, an FCS team, knocked off their FBS foe before a Richardson Stadium record crowd of 18,651, which included a large contingent of A&T fans.
The Charlotte 49ers (0-3), who had fallen behind 21-7 in the first half, had battled back and closed the gap to 28-25 in the final minutes. Charlotte started a drive at their 15 and had moved to the Aggies’ 32 with 39 seconds remaining.
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McCain then stepped in front of a Hasaan Klugh pass on the right sideline and ran untouched for the touchdown.
The 49ers added a bit of drama moments later when Klugh, who transferred to Charlotte from N.C. A&T after his freshman year, completed a 44-yard touchdown pass to Independence High product Workpeh Kofa. But Nigel Macauley missed the conversion kick, ruining the 49ers’ chances of recovering an onside kick and tying the game with a field goal.
The loss ruined a big game by 49ers running back Benny LeMay, who rushed for 158 yards. LeMay, who gained 125 of those yards in the second half, was a big reason why the 49ers were able to come back.
3 who mattered
Justin Cates (N.C. A&T): The Aggies’ defensive tackle had a big night, with three sacks and four tackles for losses.
Benny LeMay (Charlotte): His first 100-yard rushing game of his career moved him into the top 10 for 49ers in single-game rushing performances. The other nine top performances were all by Kalif Phillips, who spent NFL training camp with the Green Bay Packers.
Lamar Raynard (N.C. A&T): The Aggies’ quarterback had a stellar first half, completing 13 of 17 passes for 244 yards and a touchdown. The 49er defense held him to 3-of-9 for 15 yards in the second half.
▪ The Aggies’ offense was almost flawless on their first three drives. They drove 90, 71 and 81 yards for touchdowns, totaling 242 yards offense. Then the 49er defense recovered, holding the Aggies to 25 yards total offense on their next three drives.
▪ South Point High’s Deion Jones recovered a fumble for the Aggies in the first quarter, but his 25-yard return was negated by a penalty.
▪ After a slow start, Klugh improved in the second half. He finished with 13-of-29 passing for 170 yards but had the two interceptions by McCain. Klugh was 10-of-21 for 146 yards in the second half.
▪ Saturday night’s crowd showed the value of scheduling home games against in-state foes with large fan bases. The stadium was full; standing-room-only tickets went on sale long before kickoff.
▪ Both schools’ bands performed, unusual for a Charlotte home game. Aggie fans lined up three-deep on the mezzanine level of the stadium’s northeast side, many of them using their phones to record the halftime show.
▪ The Aggies’ victory was the sixth this season by an FCS team over an FBS team. They are the second Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference team to do so, joining Howard, which beat UNLV 43-40 on Sept. 2. The other FCS winners have been Tennessee State (over Georgia State), James Madison (over East Carolina), Liberty (over Baylor), and South Dakota (over Bowling Green). As of mid-evening Saturday, FBS teams are 74-6 against FCS foes this season.
They said it
“We weren’t ready to play in the first half. I went in and stirred it up a bit at the half, and we did better. But we’ve got to have them prepared to play at the start.” - Charlotte 49ers coach Brad Lambert