NCCU strikes gold as 49ers flame out in Charlotte
Toward the end of the first quarter and into the second, something clicked for N.C. Central as the Eagles raced to a 40-13 win at Charlotte.
“Clicking is absolutely the word that we’re using in terms of staying on task, being consistent and finishing,” NCCU interim coach Dwayne Foster said. “That’s been our theme. It has to be our theme. The previous two games, we didn’t have that.”
NCCU (2-1) struggled to get a double-overtime win against Division II Saint Augustine’s a week ago, and Duke both shut out and blew out the Eagles in Week 2.
This time, NCCU played the heavy.
“They came out ready to fire,” Charlotte free safety Desmond Cooper said.
“They forced the issue on all sides of the ball and special teams,” Charlotte linebacker Mark Hogan said.
NCCU put the 49ers in an unfamiliar spot in their own place, backed into a corner at home.
“We knew it was going to be a dogfight when we got in here,” Charlotte quarterback Matt Johnson said.
NCCU had been there and done that before edging Saint Augustine’s 23-20, after being mauled by Duke 45-0.
The 49ers (2-1) cruised past their first two less-talented opponents, Campbell and Chowan, by a combined score of 99-14. NCCU wasn’t having it.
“We hadn’t been in that situation before (Saturday), no question,” Charlotte coach Brad Lambert said.
NCCU was up 13-0 after the first two quarters, the first time all season that Charlotte failed to put points on the board by halftime.
For emphasis, NCCU’s Adrian Wilkins squeezed the opening second-half kickoff and didn’t stop running until he’d gone 100 yards for the second-longest return in school history.
“It was just a clear lane, and I just hit it,” Wilkins said.
“Those plays are hard to overcome,” Lambert said. “Those plays just break your back.”
Those plays apparently break hearts, too.
Right about then the announced capacity crowd of 16,630 at Jerry Richardson Stadium began thinning out even more than it had shrunk during halftime while the teams were in their locker rooms.
The win made NCCU the first school ever to beat Charlotte. It’s one of those nuanced footnotes since this is the 49ers’ first season of football, but the history books will reflect the fact.
NCCU linebacker Allonte Tuppins, comparing the Eagles’ back-to-back wins, said his teammates didn’t underestimate Saint Augustine’s as much as they just didn’t attack that game.
“We just came out kind of lackadaisical,” Tuppins said. “We didn’t swing first, and that’s what I try to preach to my teammates.”
“We were playing a Division II (team) last week. I guess everybody was thinking it was going to be an easy game,” Wilkins said. “We knew this was going to be a tough game, so we were prepared for this.”
NCCU linebacker Tazmon Foster agreed about the Saint Augustine’s game.
“We overlooked them because they were Division II,” Tazmon Foster said. “We thought we were better than them. I think we overlooked them.
“We were more focused in practice this week. We knew we couldn’t come out here and take them lightly. They had the momentum because they were already 2-0, and they put up 45 points the last two weeks.”
Charlotte entered the game having scored a touchdown in all eight quarters it had played. NCCU shut that down. The 49ers didn’t get on the scoreboard until the fourth quarter, a 2-yard touchdown run with 8:20 left in the game.
Charlotte was productive on offense, getting off 106 plays, the most allowed by an NCCU opponent. The 49ers rushed for 191 yards, and Johnson threw for 335 of the team’s 342 passing yards.
But Johnson also tossed five interceptions. He hadn’t been picked off in 59 attempts.
“We flipped the script from what we’ve been doing and made too many mistakes,” Lambert said.
NCCU forced some of those flubs, making sure that Charlotte flunked its first real test.
|NC CENTRAL 40, CHARLOTTE 13|
NCCe_FG Parent 39, 6:56.
NCCe_FG Parent 21, 2:08.
NCCe_Wright 4 run (Parent kick), 2:24.
NCCe_Wilkins 100 kickoff return (Parent kick), 14:46.
NCCe_To.Williams 48 interception return (kick blocked), 7:22.
NCCe_Augustus 2 run (Parent kick), 2:41.
CHAR_Barnwell 2 run (kick failed), 8:20.
NCCe_Augustus 5 run (Parent kick), 4:35.
CHAR_McNeill 10 run (Brewer kick), :06.
|Time of Possession||25:27||34:33|
RUSHING_NC Central, Augustus 16-80, K.Thompson 4-53, Wright 8-43,
Reid 9-29, Swinson 2-7, Tucker 1-(minus 2), Team 1-(minus 3). Charlotte,
Phillips 20-85, Alexander 7-50, Barnwell 10-29, McNeill 2-17,
Johnson 7-10, Bolus 1-5, Crawford 2-1, Roberson 1-(minus 6).
PASSING_NC Central, Reid 14-23-0-178. Charlotte,
Johnson 35-52-5-335, McNeill 3-4-0-7.
RECEIVING_NC Central, Wilkins 5-83, L.Scruggs 3-43, T.Harris 2-39,
D.Johnson 2-7, Augustus 1-7, Tucker 1-(minus 1). Charlotte,
Bostick 8-66, Duke 7-97, Crawford 6-75, Hunter 6-67, Phillips 5-16,
Barnwell 2-7, Nesmith 1-10, Bolus 1-7, Devine 1-7,
W.Thomas 1-(minus 10).