Charlotte 49ers rally past UTEP 28-21 for third consecutive victory

Charlotte’s Cameron Dollar (4), catching a pass recently against Middle Tennessee, had nine catches Saturday against Texas-El Paso.
Charlotte’s Cameron Dollar (4), catching a pass recently against Middle Tennessee, had nine catches Saturday against Texas-El Paso. Special to the Observer

The Charlotte 49ers overcame a 14-point halftime deficit and beat Texas El-Paso 28-21 in a Conference USA game Saturday at Sun Bowl Stadium.

It was the third consecutive victory for Charlotte (5-5, 3-3 C-USA), which draws it one win closer to becoming bowl eligible for the first time in program history.

The 49ers will have to wait two weeks to do that — they’re off next week before facing Marshall at home on Nov. 23 and finishing the season at Old Dominion on Nov. 30.

UTEP (1-8, 0-6) appeared to have the game under control in the first half, jumping to 14-0 lead. The Miners also led 21-7 at halftime.

Charlotte, playing again without injured tailback Benny LeMay, rallied in the second half, scoring 21 straight points. Quarterback Chris Reynolds was again the difference for Charlotte, completing 24-of-35 passes for a career-high 354 yards and two touchdowns.

The 49ers defense was the difference in the second half, however. Charlotte held UTEP to 16 yards in the third quarter and got a key fourth-down stop in the fourth quarter when tackle Tommy Doctor stopped Miners running back Treyvon Hughes at the 49ers’ 5.

Then 49ers linebacker Henry Segura sealed the victory with an interception that ended a final drive by UTEP with a minute left.

The game changed when ....

UTEP was driving for what would have been a go-ahead touchdown early in the fourth quarter. Electing to go for it on a fourth-and-1 at the Charlotte 4, the Miners snapped the ball directly to Miners running back Treyvon Hughes, who was swallowed up by Charlotte defensive tackle Tommy Doctor for a loss of 1 yard. The 49ers took over and drove 95 yards, getting what turned out to be a game-winning 19-yard touchdown pass from Reynolds to tight end Jacob Hunt.

Helmet stickers

Chris Reynolds, Charlotte: The 49ers quarterback continues his late season surge. He has been probably the best player in C-USA over the past three weeks.

Cam Dollar, Charlotte: Sophomore receiver caught a career-high nine passes for 157 yards, including a 49-yarder.

Kai Locksley, UTEP: Miners quarterback completed 15-of-20 passes for 215 yards and rushed for 84 more.

Making sense of the numbers

9: Different receivers who caught passes from Reynolds.

7: Penalties by Charlotte, a week after committing just one against Middle Tennessee. Two untimely penalties on Charlotte’s final drive could potentially have cost the 49ers the game.