South Carolina’s first drive of the day served as a sneak peek for what the game had in store. Heading into this game, the Gamecocks had yet to break 100 yards rushing this season. Although the Niners held them to an opening field goal, South Carolina finished with seventy yards on the ground.
Despite the Gamecocks good start, Charlotte seemed to be clicking on all cylinders in the first half offensively. The Niners have greatly benefited from the return of starting quarterback Chris Reynolds. The sixth year player brings a level of poise and pocket awareness that gives the Niners offense a sense of consistency and stability.
Chris Reynolds spread the ball around to eight different receivers in the first half, including a great throw and catch from Reynolds to WR Victor Tucker late in the 2nd quarter. The Niners were able to keep the game close by converting on third downs, going 7 for 7 until an unsuccessful 3rd & 13 play with 1:26 left in the half. At the intermission, Charlotte led in time of possession (17:17 to 12:56).
Chris Reynolds to Victor Tucker for the 14 yard TD to give Charlotte the 14-10 lead over South Carolina! pic.twitter.com/knhsu0VDWs— @ (@FTBeard7) September 25, 2022
All the momentum Charlotte brought into the half sailed right out the window after opening the second half with a three and out, allowing South Carolina to quickly respond with a touchdown. Charlotte’s wheels came off the bus in the third quarter. The Niners’ inability to effectively run the ball caught up to them. The Gamecock defense began to anticipate throwing plays by dialing up blitzes, resulting in incompletions and turnovers.
South Carolina’s run-heavy offense continued in the second half. Marshawn Lloyd’s career night propelled the Gamecocks offense all night. Yet again, Charlotte’s poor run defense was taken advantage of, allowing Lloyd to finish with 169 yards rushing and 3 touchdowns.
Charlotte tends to get off to good starts, inevitably losing steam over time to more talented teams. The best defense the Niners deployed were first downs, limiting possessions for South Carolina.
If there’s any time for Charlotte HC Will Healy to correct the run defense, it’s now. The Niners look to begin seven consecutive weeks of conference play, starting with UTEP next Saturday.
Final Score: Charlotte 20 - South Carolina 56