The injury-depleted Charlotte 49ers remained winless Saturday, falling 45-14 to Western Kentucky in a Conference USA game at L.T. Smith Stadium in Bowling Green, Ky.
The 49ers (0-7, 0-3 C-USA) were without starting quarterback Hasaan Klugh (illness), tailback Benny LeMay (concussion) and four defensive starters. Aaron McAllister, filling in for LeMay, rushed for 157 yards and two touchdowns, one a school-record 89-yarder in the second quarter.
McAllister’s touchdown trimmed Western Kentucky’s lead to 21-14 with 10 minutes, 57 seconds left in the half. But that was as close as the 49ers would get against Western Kentucky (4-2, 2-1) in losing for the 10th consecutive time over two seasons.
The Hilltoppers, who have won the past two C-USA titles, rolled up 627 yards in total offense against a Charlotte defense that allowed Marshall 14 points last week.
Four Charlotte players – McAllister, strong safety Quinton Jordan, cornerback Robert Cheatem and linebacker Anthony Butler – made their first career starts due to a variety of reasons. Butler started ahead of Jeff Gemmell, who was suspended for the first half after a targeting penalty last week against Marshall.
Three who mattered
Aaron McAllister: Making his first career start, McAllister busted loose for an 89-yard scoring run, the longest in program history. He finished with 157 yards, adding a 9-yarder to open Charlotte’s scoring.
Mike White: Western Kentucky’s quarterback picked apart Charlotte’s defense, throwing for 398 yards and five touchdowns.
Brooks Barden: Playing in Klugh’s place, Barden was mostly ineffective in seeing his first action since 2015, completing 9-of-18 passes for 61 yards and an interception.
▪ 49ers linebacker Karrington King, the program’s career tackles leader, dislocated his knee in the second quarter and left the field in an ambulance.
▪ Western Kentucky’s 627 yards were the fifth most allowed by Charlotte in program history.
▪ The 49ers switched kickers after Nigel Macauley started this season making just two-of-seven field goal attempts. Jackson VanSickle made both of his point-after kicks, but a 39-yard field goal attempt in the fourth quarter was blocked.
▪ Fifteen Hilltoppers combined to catch 43 passes (White completed 33-of -47 of them), led by Kylen Towner, who had six receptions for 111 yards and a touchdown.
▪ 49ers free safety Ben DeLuca helped make up for what appeared to be a big play by Western Kentucky in the fourth quarter, wrestling the ball away from the Hilltoppers’ Kyle Fourtenbary after a 35-yard reception as Fourtenbary fell to the ground.
“We’ve got to look at what we’re doing and put a lid on it.” -- Charlotte coach Brad Lambert on his team’s defensive performance.
“He got hot on us.” -- Lambert, on White’s performance.
“I practice that all the time. I’m looking for guys catching me from behind.” -- McAllister, on his 89-yard touchdown run.