Appalachian State outlasts Charlotte 49ers behind Darrynton Evans’ 234 yards rushing

49ers’ coach Will Healy on star player Alex Highsmith

Once a walk-on, Alex Highsmith has become a 49ers' star with a possible NFL future.
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Once a walk-on, Alex Highsmith has become a 49ers' star with a possible NFL future.

Appalachian State held off a stubborn, feisty Charlotte team Saturday, beating the 49ers 56-41 at Kidd Brewer Stadium.

The Mountaineers (2-0) got a huge game from running back Darrynton Evans, who rushed for 234 yards and scored three touchdowns, offsetting a career day for 49ers quarterback Chris Reynolds, who threw for 296 yards and four touchowns.

Evans, who scored on an 87-yard run on the Mountaineers’ first play from scrimmage, added a 45-yard kickoff return for a score in addition to his two touchdown runs

The 49ers (1-1) trailed 42-20 in the third quarter but pulled to within one score twice on a pair of touchdown passes from Reynolds to Tucker.

Charlotte had a chance to go in to halftime trailing by just one. Mountaineers kicker Chandler Staton’s 31-yard field goal attempt had hit the cross bar, giving Charlotte the ball at the 20 with 1 minute, 8 seconds left.

Then things fell apart for Charlotte.

The Mountaineers got the ball right back when defensive end Demetrius Taylor sacked 49ers quarterback Chris Reynolds, who fumbled. Linebacker Jordan Fehr (Providence High) recovered for the Mountaineers at the 10. Thomas hit Virgil on the next play, and the Mountaineers were up 21-13.

After the 49ers couldn’t move on their next possession, Appalachian’s Shaun Jolly blocked a punt by Charlotte’s Connor Bowler. D’Marco Jackson scooped up the loose ball and scored from 16 yards.

Just like that, it was 28-13 at halftime.

The Mountaineers had started quickly, with Evans scoring on an 87-yard run on Appalachian’s first play from scrimmage.

Charlotte responded, however. The 49ers scored on a 3-yard run by Benny LeMay (set up by a 38-yard pass from Reynolds to freshman Micaleous Elder), although Jonathan Cruz missed the extra point.

The Mountaineers countered with a 5-yard scoring pass from Thomas to Thomas Hennigan. But back came the 49ers on a 58-yard scoring run, making it 14-13 before the game-turning final two minutes of the half.

The game changed when ...

Appalachian defensive end Demetrius Taylor sacked Charlotte’s Chris Reynolds late in the first half, forcing a fumble that was recovered by linebacker Jordan Fehr (Providence High). That led to two late touchdowns inside the two-minute mark that bumped a one-point Mountaineers’ lead to 28-13 at halftime.

Helmet stickers

Darrynton Evans, Appalachian: Mountaineers tailback made big play after big play, ending up with 234 yards and three touchdowns.

Chris Reynolds, Charlotte: 49ers quarterback threw for a career-high 296 yards and four touchdowns.

Jalen Virgil, Appalachian: Hurt the 49ers in various ways, with a 45-yard kickoff return and catching three passes for 82 yards and two touchdowns.

Benny LeMay, Charlotte: Ran for 118 yards and two touchdowns, also caught three passes for 34 yards and a touchdown. Caught a two-point conversion pass for good measure.

Making sense of the numbers

526-458: Charlotte’s advantage in total yards.

In case you missed it

The 49ers stayed in the game by making several big plays, but the Mountaineers defense helped out in its own way — with inopportune penalties and a penchant for missing tackles.

David Scott: @davidscott14