Charlotte’s offense exploded as Aaron McAllister’s 214-yard performance headlined a monstrous first victory for the 49ers, 49-21 over North Texas. Will Healy’s unit ran rampant on the Mean Green with 599 total yards and seven different 49ers scoring in the route.
After averaging just over 18 points per game entering Saturday night’s contest in Denton, Charlotte re-opened Club Lit in a major way with the most yards and most points in C-USA play in program history. Chris Reynolds threw for two touchdowns and even caught one on Charlotte’s version of the Philly Special as Mark Carney called his most complete game of the season.
The 49ers kicked off the scoring with trickery as backup quarterback Dom Shoffner found Reynolds on the gadget play midway through the first quarter. Reynolds would return the favor, this time to Aaron McAllister for a 71-yard catch-and-run score. McAllister currently owns the longest kick return (97), longest rush (66), and longest catch for the 49ers early in the 2020 season.
Wideout Jaelon Darden had himself a day as he accounted for all of the Mean Green’s points totaling 13 catches for 244 yards and 3 touchdowns. The senior from Houston leads the nation with 9 receiving touchdowns.
North Texas’ kicker Ethan Mooney kept the Mean Green behind on the scoreboard missing three kicks from 31, 32, and 44 yards away. He was 0-3 on the night, costing Seth Littrell’s unit early and often.
Following the 49ers loss to FAU, wideout Cameron Dollar touched on the offense’s lack of success finishing drives. “I love Jonathon Cruz to death, but I hate relying on that man to put three points on the board,” Dollar said.
Charlotte didn’t attempt a field goal in this one as the offense was a perfect 5-5 in the redzone. Cruz did connect on all seven of his extra-point attempts.
The 49ers executed in all three phases and the offense found ways to punch it in when they crossed midfield. Charlotte took a 21-7 lead to the halftime break, the same score they trailed by in 2019’s season-changing comeback victory over North Texas.
After falling flat after halftime in last week’s game at FAU, the 49ers kept the pedal down scoring on the first possession. The freshman combo Chavon McEachern and Taylor Thompson both scored their first collegiate touchdowns in the third quarter to establish the 49ers’ commanding 35-14 lead.
While the defense struggled with Darden, the 49ers bent but didn’t break. Tyriq Harris had a crucial stop to force a turnover on downs and Romeo McKnight recorded the first sack for the team this season. Tyler Murray led the game in tackles with 11, and Ben DeLuca’s interception was the lone turnover of the game and the fourth interception of his career.
Calvin Camp and Aaron McAllister added the finishing touches to an absolute clinic on the ground with touchdowns of 14 and 66 yards respectively. Charlotte had three spots to fill on the offensive line from last season and lost starting LG Jonathon Timmons before kickoff to an undisclosed reason, but still paved the way for season-highs across the board.
Tonight, Charlotte wanted it more. Weeks of heart-breaking losses and game cancellations following full slates of practice called for a change in the tide.
“Winning this game is huge. It brings life to our program,” Aaron McAllister said following the victory. “We just want to keep going and keep fighting. We know we are a really good team and we worked really hard for this win.”
With the first win of 2020 under their belt, Charlotte plays the next three in the state of North Carolina starting with FIU and UTEP at home and finishing with Duke in Durham on Halloween. Sitting at 1-2 isn’t where this team wants to be, but coach Healy is sure this team has much more room to grow.
“We’ve got a new group that is still not gelled together like I think we are capable of, and we totally blew a game last week that we felt like we could have won. We had the best week of preparation we had since we’ve been here,” Healy said postgame. “There’s a lot of guys here that have never been a part of Club Lit before and I think that winning can become contagious. It was a very important win just to have some success and be able to enjoy it together. Obviously, the plane ride will be a lot more fun.”
- Chris Reynolds completed 68% of his passes and threw for 290 yards and 2 touchdowns
- Charlotte was flagged 12 times for 75 yards compared to North Texas’ 4 for 35.
- Austin Aune went 23 for 43 for 382 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception
- Micaceous Elder caught 5 passes for a season-high 85 yards
- Tre Harbison has scored in every game this season
- Ben DeLuca is “in the lab” working on his dunk packages for his next takeaway
- Charlotte scored 38 total points through the 2020 season entering this game
- North Texas was held to season lows in both points and total yardage
North Texas (1-3, 0-2) heads to Murfreesboro to take on Middle Tennessee (1-4, 1-2) after Asher O’Hara led the Blue Raiders back with a game-winning drive.
Charlotte (1-2, 1-1) finally gets their home-opener in week seven of the season as they welcome FIU (0-2, 0-1) to town in front of a 7% capacity crowd (1,072 in attendance). Tickets will not be sold to the public. FIU routed Charlotte 48-23 last season, but are struggling with QB play early in 2020.