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Charlotte avoids trap game, rolls UMass 52-17

Will Healy’s group started fast and didn’t look back.

Alex Highsmith hitting Andrew Brito, forcing a bad pass that DB Henry Segura intercepted and took to the house.
Sam Roberts/FreezeFrame

CHARLOTTE, NC – Chris Reynolds threw for two touchdowns as the Charlotte offense stayed red-hot, gaining 533 total yards in a rout of independent foe UMass, 52-17.

The 49ers wasted no time getting on the scoreboard as Reynolds found Cameron Dollar for a 46-yard touchdown on the third play of the game. Dollar had one reception on the night, doubling as his second touchdown of the season.

Ishod Finger struck pay-dirt for the first time in his collegiate career from 1-yard out, capping off a 14 play, 84-yard touchdown drive to put the home team up two scores. The 5’4” freshman from Metrolina Christian has rushed for over 65 yards in every game this season, proving to be a formidable option in replacing LeMay after the 2019 campaign.

Charlotte’s defense came into the night giving up over 40 points a game, but pitched a shutout through the first quarter, also scoring as a unit for the first time under head coach Will Healy. Alex Highsmith put pressure on Minutemen QB Andrew Brito, forcing an errant pass that fell into the hands of DB Henry Segura. Segura turned on the jets, returning the interception 49 yards to the house, extending Charlotte’s lead to 21 with four minutes to play in the first quarter.

Following a UMass three-and-out, Chris Reynolds found Tyler Ringwood from 5-yards out to extend the 49er lead to 28-0, the same deficit the 49ers faced just one season ago against the Minutemen.

UMass scored 10 straight points, starting with a 26-yard field goal and followed by a 16 play, 88-yard drive capped off by a 3-yard touchdown pass from Brito to wideout Jermaine Johnson Jr, the visiting team’s lone offensive touchdown. Benny LeMay put the 49ers in field goal range with a 26-yard scamper before the half, and Jonathan Cruz booted a 53-yard kick through the uprights to give the 49ers a 31-10 lead at the break.

Benny LeMay breaking the UMass tackle attempt.
Photo Credit: Sam Roberts/FreezeFrame

Ishod Finger scored his second touchdown of the game from three yards out on their first drive of the second half, and Aaron McAllister busted through the UMass defense on a 69-yard score in the fourth quarter, the longest play of the game. Charlotte rushed for a season high 338 yards, with LeMay carrying for 113, McAllister with 94, Finger with 71, and Reynolds with 34.

Charlotte gave up only 7 points in the final 30 minutes of play, coming in the form of yet another special team’s woe. A short, 29-yard punt from Conner Bowler gave senior returner Isiah Rodgers all the room he needed to make Charlotte pay, and he did just that taking it 42-yards for the UMass touchdown.

Minutemen QB Andrew Brito finished the night 18 for 27 for 127 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Brito had no choice but to get rid of the ball quickly as the 49ers defense swarmed him, totaling 5 sacks in the victory. Freshman LB Prince Bemah had a big day for the Charlotte defense, finishing with 7 tackles, 1.5 sacks and 2.5 TFL’s.

The 49ers avenged last season’s 49-31 loss against the Minutemen in a major way, scoring a program high 52 points against an FBS opponent.

All spring and summer the 49ers preached passion and a winning culture, and now you’re seeing that in action as Will Healy has righted the ship in the Queen City.


After the Action

“I thought the key to the game was getting started early, obviously the exact opposite of what happened last year.” Will Healy said postgame. “As we continue to improve this program, we should be the favorite in some games.”

“I think this win will motivate everybody, we are one quarter through the season, and we are 2-1 in that quarter,” said Chris Reynolds. “We have got to continue that and take every game one at a time, and not let this get away from us.”


Notes

  • Jeff Gemmell was carted off the field late in the first quarter with a high ankle sprain, he will be evaluated throughout the week
  • Junior Luke Martin stepped in at linebacker and gave Marcus West’s group some good minutes after Gemmell’s exit, finishing with 3 tackles.
  • 4 QB’s saw action for the 49ers: Reynolds, Kean, Shirreffs, and Dylan Ratliff, a freshman from Hickory Ridge
  • Charlotte was flagged only 4 times, tied for their lowest total this season
  • Charlotte has scored 40+ points in three consecutive games, the most in program history
  • Brett Kean showed promise going 3 for 3 for 40 yards with a beautiful deep ball touchdown to Tyler Ringwood late in the game
  • Benny LeMay has carried for 100+ yards in every game this season
  • Andrew Brito got the start at QB over Randall West, West had started the first two games.

Player of the game: Chris Reynolds

Reynolds completed 10 of his 12 passes for 155 yards and two scores, also tacking on 34 yards on the ground. Charlotte’s first score came on a 46-yard pass from Reynolds to a wide-open Cameron Dollar, made possible by Charlotte’s run-pass-option (RPO) play call. Stopping the run is a priority with Benny LeMay in the backfield, and the option to run on the play brought the linebackers up, exposing the middle of the field where Cameron Dollar was streaking for the score.


What’s Next?

The Minutemen (0-3) head back to Massachusetts looking to bounce back against Coastal Carolina (2-1).

Charlotte (2-1) heads to Death Valley to take on the reining national champs #1 Clemson Tigers (3-0), the first-ever meeting between the two programs. Kickoff is at 7:30 on the ACC Network.