|49ers Defense Keys Second Straight Victory|
Red-shirt freshman Matt Johnson threw for five touchdowns and the 49ers defense established the tone early and created five turnovers as Charlotte routed Chowan, 47-7, in the second game of their inaugural season in front of a standing room only crowd of 16,598.
"I told the players that for me, watching them prepare on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday was really a lot of fun," said 49ers head coach Brad Lambert. "They were really handling their business and I expected them to play well, and they did."
Johnson hit slot receiver Austin Duke with a 10-yard touchdown pass to cap a nine-play; 75 yard opening drive and give the 49ers a 7-0 lead at 12:20. Three of the next four touchdowns would come after Chowan turnovers.
Seven minutes after the opening score, red-shirt freshman linebacker Terry Caldwell took down Hawks running back Antjuan Randall in the endzone for the 49ers first-ever safety and a 9-0 lead. On the ensuing drive, the 49ers (2-0) drove 49 yards on seven plays to set up a Blake Brewer field goal.
On the first play of Chowan's next drive, linebacker Micah Bryan picked off Cameron Stover's pass in Hawks territory.
Johnson's quick strike to Kalif Phillips sprung the true freshman running back for a 40-yard touchdown to extend the first quarter lead to 19-0.
"Our focus was to come and have a lot of energy to play well this week," said Bryan, who finished with six tackles, an interception, forced fumble and a sack. "After Campbell, we wanted to set the tone."
It was the second straight game that Charlotte took a sizeable lead in the first quarter. The 49ers led 22-0 against Campbell after the first frame. The 49ers scored a touchdown on their first possession of each game and the defense put up first quarter points in both games.
Chowan (0-1), playing its seasson opener, got on the board in the second quarter, when Stover connected with Randall for a 35-yard touchdown pass to make it a 19-7 game, but 49ers red-shirt senior Mikel Hunter returned the ensuing kickoff 96 yards to push the 49ers back ahead by 19, 26-7.
Freshman Trent Bostick pulled in a nice one-handed grab over the middle and sprinted 30 yards for a third quarter score and after a Mark Hogan interception Duke added his second TD on a seven-yard pass to make it 40-7 heading into the fouth quarter.
Johnson connected with Corey Nesmith Jr on a 10-yard pass for his fifth passing TD of the game before giving way to Lee McNeill and Patrick O'Brien.
In all, the 49ers forced five turnovers and held Chowan to 199 yards of total offense. Three 49ers touchdowns came after turnovers: Phillips TD pass following Bryan's interception, Bostick TD pass following Caldwell's fumble recovery and Duke TD pass following Hogan's interception.
"I feel like we are swarming to the ball," said nosetackle Larry Ogunjobi. "We make big plays in close situations. We play to our keys."
Johnson was 23-of-30 for 256 yards and the five touchdowns. while the running game produced 201 yards, led by Alan Barnwell's 80 yards rushing. Duke led the 49ers receivers with seven catches for 83 yards and the two touchdowns.
"I had five today?" said Johnson afterwards. "It was a really good day today. I don't remember the last time I've done that if I even had done that in high school. I can't say enough about the offensive line giving me all that time."
The 49ers remained perfect in red-zone conversions, scoring on each of those four opportunities with three TD's and a field goal. The 49ers were 5-of-5 in the red zone against Campbell. For the second staright game, the 49ers opponent reached the red zone just once -- with the Hawks being denied by Caldwell's fumble recovery at the 18-yard line.
Charlotte completes its season-opening three-game homestand next Saturday against NC Central.
· Second straight game where Charlotte scored on its first possession
· New record for longest punt: Brandon Strupp for 54 yards in fourth quarter
· First safety: 4:52 left in the first quarter: Terry Caldwell tackles Antjuan Randall in the end zone
· Charlotte prevents opponents from scoring in the first quarter for the second consecutive game. Charlotte has outscored opponents 41-0 in first quarter.
· First special teams touchdown: Mikel Hunter returns kickoff for 96 yards at 8:58 left in the second quarter
· First kickoff return touchdown: Mikel Hunter for 96 yards at 8:58 left in the second quarter
· Longest kickoff return: Mikel Hunter for 96 yards at 8:58 left in the second quarter
· New record for longest run: 41 yards by C.J. Crawford with 5:45 left in the third quarter
· Matt Johnson with five touchdown passes
· First turnover of the season for Charlotte by Matt Johnson, a fumble recovered by Chowan
· Most yards rushing, game: running back Alan Barnwell 80 yards on 14 rushes
· Most yards receiving, game: slot receiver Austin Duke tied with 83 yards (seven catches)
· Ties previous mark of 83 yards by Trent Bostick (Aug. 31 vs. Campbell)
· Charlotte has scored a touchdown in all eight quarters this season.