Clinton, S.C. -- The Charlotte 49ers scored 38 straight points after the first quarter on their way to the program’s first-ever road win, 45-21 over Presbyterian college at Bailey Memorial Stadium.
Red-shirt freshman Matt Johnson engineered six scoring drives to offset a pair of first quarter Presbyterian TDs and the 49ers defense shut PC down on eight straight possessions as the 49ers snapped a short two-game losing streak.
"I'm really proud of the way they responded," said head coach Brad Lambert. "They showed up Monday morning and went to work. That's kind of the MO of our team, right now -- they show up for work every day and that's all we can ask of them."
"Monday morning at 6 am was when it started," Johnson said. "It was an amazing thing to see how we responded this week."
PC started strong, scoring touchdowns on its first two possessions and running up 120 yards of total offense in the first quarter. The 49ers sandwiched a TD pass from Johnson to slot receiver Austin Duke between those Blue Hose scores as PC led 14-7 after the first quarter.
The second quarter, however, belonged to Charlotte (3-2). The 49ers scored three touchdowns while holding PC (1-3) to just 68 yards. Three of Presbyterian’s four drives in the quarter went for less than 10 yards while the 49ers put together touchdown drives of 67, 85 and 85 yards.
Johnson hit Justin Bolus for a 44-yard reception and then rushed for 14 yards himself to set up a Kalif Phillips one-yard touchdown. Phillips’s 28-yard run highlighted the 49ers next drive, that went 85 yards and led to an Alan Barnwell one-yard touchdown run on 4th and goal.
The backbreaker came after the subsequent PC drive stalled at the 49ers 34, leading to a Blue Hose quick kick to the Charlotte 15 Holding a slight 21-14 lead, Charlotte then stopped a late PC drive into Charlotte territory and went 85 yards on four plays in just one minute to score with just 1:04 to play. Barnwell’s 21-yard run got the 49ers out of trouble and after Barnwell pulled in an 11-yard pass, Johnson hit Mikel Hunter for a 53-yard touchdown pass to give the 49ers a 28-14 lead.
In the second half, the 49ers, who lead the FCS in turnovers forced, turned a pair of interceptions into touchdowns to pull away. Desmond Cooper’s first interception of the season stifled the Blue Hose’s opening drive of the second half and set up a 23-yard touchdown pass to freshman Trent Bostick. Two drives later Tank Norman nabbed his first INT of the year near midfield to set up another touchdown drive. Barnwell rushed for 15 yards, Johnson hit CJ Crawford for 17 and Duke for nine to set up Phillips’ 7-yard touchdown run – his second of the game.
A Blake Brewer 30-yard field goal gave the 49ers a 45-14 lead. The 38 unanswered points came as the 49ers scored on seven of nine drives while holding PC scoreless on eight straight drives, none of which went for more than 35 yards.
Presbyterian added a touchdown with 6:33 to play for the final margin.
Johnson connected on 15-of-24 passes for 269 yards, 3 TDs and one interception before giving way to Lee McNeill in the fourth quarter. The one-two running punch of Barnwell (88 yds) and Phillips (79 yds) helped the 49ers produce a season-high 236 yards rushing yards and three touchdowns.
"Those two guys -- that's nice for us -- it doesn't matter who we put in the game, they're in good shape," Lambert added. "I'm proud of how our offensive line played in the second half. I think our strength program showed up in the second half. And our defensive front -- (PC) didnt do much in the second half from a running the ball standpoint."
Charlotte snapped a short two-game losing streak while picking up their first road win of the season. The 49ers return home next Saturday to take on Gardner-Webb in their second straight game against Big South competition.
Tank Norman and Desmond Cooper each pulled their first interceptions of season.
Kalif Phillips became first 49er to rush for multiple TD’s in a game (2)
Austin Duke scored his team-high 4th TD of season.
49ers six TD’s matches season-high from Campbell and Chowan games.
The six offensive TD’s are the most the 49ers offense has put up this season
Mikel Hunter posted a school-record for longest pass reception and longest TD reception with 53-yard touchdown catch towards end of first half.