|49ers Celebrate Inaugural Victory, 52-7|
Charlotte 49ers fans got their wish.
And they got it fast.
In an historic game for which 49ers fans have long waited, Charlotte's fast start couldn't have been scripted any better.
Linebacker Mark Hogan returned an interception 32 yards for a touchdown on the second play from scrimmage to forever etch his name in 49ers history with Charlotte's first-ever touchdown.
The 49ers scored touchdowns on their first two offensive drives. They enjoyed a 32-0 lead late in the first half. And they cruised to a 52-7 victory over the visiting Campbell Fighting Camels in their inaugural game in front of a standing room only capacity crowd of 16,630 at Jerry Richardson Stadium.
"It was a humbling experience to be out there with the crowd and the stadium," head coach Brad Lambert said. "So many people put so much into this and to see it on game day. It was a lot of different things going on but it was an unbelievable environment today. It was pretty emotional. I really couldn't have written the outcome any better."
In the first quarter alone, the 49ers enjoyed the pick-six by Hogan, a pair of touchdown drives that included a four-play, 96-yard sprint that took all of 45 seconds and a recovered fumble on the ensuing kick-off. Quarterback Matt Johnson was 8-for-8 with two touchdowns, the 49ers forced two turnovers and Charlotte led, 22-0.
After the opening touchdown, the 49ers scored on each of their first eight offensive possessions, including the pair of first quarter TD's. Red-shirt freshman quarterback Matt Johnson went 5-for-5 on his first drive, connecting with Austin Duke three times and completing the 10-play; 66-yard drive with a one-yard pass to Justin Bolus.
"This was a really emotional game for me," said Bolus, who gets credit for scoring the 49ers first-ever offensive touchdown, after missing last fall's practice preparation following a pair of stomach surgeries. "Having the players coming up to me and I could see how happy they were for me. A couple came up to me and said 'I'm really happy you got to be that guy."
Johnson opened the next drive with a 44-yard strike to Mikel Hunter and completed it with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Duke to give the 49ers 22-0 lead after that blink-and-you-missed-it four-play; 96-yard drive.
"I really have to put it on the O-line and our receivers," said Johnson, who completed 19-of-29 passes for 282 yards and three touchdowns. "Mark (Hogan) took a lot of pressure off my shoulders very early. It was really, really hard to stay down because everyone is up and so excited."
Caleb Clayton-Molby forced and recovered a fumble on the ensuing kick-off to lead to Blake Brewer's 35-yard field goal.
Freshman Kaliff Phillips' 15-yard touchdown run highlighted an 11-play, 75-yard drive in the second quarter to push the 49ers lead to 32-0 with the 49ers first-ever rushing TD.
Campbell answered with their lone score, on a quarterback keeper from Dakota Wolf. It was Wolf's first drive of the game and covered 85 yards in 14 plays.
The 49ers added a 20-yard field goal from Brewer to end the half to give Charlotte a 35-7 lead at the break.
In the third quarter, Brewer added a 40-yard field goal and Johnson hit freshman Trent Bostick with a 47-yard touchdown pass. Corey Nesmith Jr capped the scoring with a 33-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.
Hogan, the first scholarship player in Georgia State history and the school's all-time leading tackler, quickly made a name for himself as a 49er. He finished with six tackles, one for loss and the historic interception.
"The moment that we experienced in Charlotte today is special," Hogan said. "To see everyone out here supporting -- people that have been waiting so long."
After the game, 49ers students stormed McColl-Richardson Field to join the team at the midfield logo.
"It's just a proud moment," added Duke, who caught five passes for 66 yards and one touchdown. "Seeing your city just expand and erupt like this is just a proud moment."
"A lot of dreams came true today," said Johnson.
And they didn't all belong to the players.