The 2022 Charlotte football season ended on something resembling a high note.
The first half was filled with stellar defensive plays from both teams. Charlotte won the toss, choosing to defer to the Bulldogs. The Niners defense responded, forcing a three-and-out on LA Tech’s first drive of the game. The Bulldogs answered right back by forcing a three-and-out of their own.
Both teams exhibited high levels of discipline on defense by wrapping up/tackling efficiently and staying patient. However, the Niners won the battle up front on defense, sacking LA Tech quarterback Landry Lyddy two times in the first half.
Bubble screens and short passes to the outside were quickly shut down by the Niners, as their defensive backs consistently shed blocks to make big plays on early downs.
The Niners struck first with a field goal from Antonio Zita to make the score 3-0. LA Tech began to find a groove in the following drive, going on a 16-play, 70-yard drive to make the score 7-3.
Once both teams were on the board, the Niners began to take over the remainder of the second quarter. Charlotte QB Chris Reynolds completed three straight passes, with Elijah Spencer bouncing off tackles after a reception for a big gain. Charlotte capped off the quick drive by a four-yard run from senior RB Calvin Camp to make the score 10-7.
Charlotte kept their foot on their gas, as safety Lacy Williams intercepted Landry Lyddy with a minute remaining in the second quarter. The Niners wasted no time marching down the field, fueled by two straight receptions by tight end Taylor Thompson to set Charlotte up at LA Tech’s three-yard line.
Although LA Tech ended the half down six, the Bulldogs made multiple big stops to force Charlotte into field goals rather than scoring six.
After a second first half field goal by Antonio Zita, Charlotte went into the half up 13-7.
In the Second Half...
LA Tech opened the third quarter with a roar. Landry Lyddy found wide receiver Cyrus Allen for a 39-yard gain which immediately put the Bulldogs in scoring position. Four plays later, Markees Watts made the defensive play of the season, reaching back to intercept a lob pass to the running back in the backfield.
Watts went on to return the interception to Charlotte’s 42-yard line, igniting the Niner crowd into a frenzy. Watts on his first career interception:
“I went to pursue the ball and right before I put my foot in the ground I saw the biggest guy on the OL back-pedaling…that made no sense to me. Next thing you know, the ball was in the air and I reached it, started running…”
Charlotte looked to take advantage of this opportunity, with Chris Reynolds scrambling left and throwing a heave to Elijah Spencer who rumbled down to the 1 yard line.
But there was a flag.
Charlotte’s drive was put on halt, as the Niners were forced to punt the ball back to the Bulldogs.
LA Tech couldn’t seem to string together a solid drive in the third quarter, constantly conceding penalties that backed their offense into tough down and distances.
The same could not be said for the Niners. Senior Calvin Camp recorded his second touchdown run of the day, this one for 25 yards to put Charlotte up 19-7. With Calvin’s touchdown, this marked the eighth game of the season where Charlotte scored at least two touchdowns in a game.
LA Tech made it a game early in the fourth quarter, scoring a touchdown on a six-yard run by running-back Marquis Crosby to make the score 19-14 with 12:36 remaining in the fourth.
To say the game heated up in the fourth quarter would be an understatement. Calvin Camp added to his already big day, by adding a 33-yard run for his third touchdown of the night.
It seems as if the fourth quarter was a competition for who didn’t want to finish last in standings for the C-USA.
When LA Tech received the ball, they answered Calvin’s touchdown with one of their own. Marquis Crosby scored an 11-yard touchdown run to make the score 26-21 with 3:05 remaining in the game.
Charlotte had no intentions of losing this game on senior night. After LA Tech’s response, the Niners were able to gain two first downs to end the game.
This was the first win in Jerry Richardson Stadium in 378 days. In the last game of the season, Club Lit opens.
Seniors Making Big Plays
Multiple seniors came up big in Saturday’s home win against LA Tech.
Senior Running Back Calvin Camp scored three touchdowns with 111 yards.
Calvin Camp Post-Game: “This win meant everything. To go out here on senior night and perform in front of our fans, it felt good.”
DE Markees Watts caught his first interception, while also contributing 6 tackles (2.5 TFL)
Chris Reynolds eclipsed 10,000 passing yards on a pass that he *claims* was to his brother Jack Reynolds.
The Biff Poggi Era Begins
Charlotte heads into the Biff Poggi era with a clean slate. Coach Poggi will address Niner Nation and the media on Monday at 10:30 AM ET. Charlotte will likely have a new looking roster heading into next season, as the 49er seniors will depart the program for life after collegiate football.
Watts on the end of an era, and the future of Charlotte football:
“It definitely feels like an end of an era, feels like a door just closed. But it also feels like a window opened up. I’m excited for what the future holds, we got some new dogs coming…they’re gonna do it bigger and do it better.”