The 49ers overcame a sloppy first half to notch their second win of the season, 38-28 over UTEP. Charlotte’s defense shined in the second half and gave the offense ample opportunity to get in gear and pull away.
Charlotte continued the trend of striking first in every game this season, this time Aaron McAllister capitalized on a short field following Tyler Murray’s interception and shifty return down to the Miners’ seven yardline.
WATCH— (@CharlotteFTBL) October 24, 2020
Tyler Murray's 2nd interception of the season sets up the Niners for the TD. It's the fourth time in as many games that CLT has gotten on the board first #PEEP • #GOLDstandard pic.twitter.com/xYydJ48oOd
The two play, nine second touchdown drive would be the only signs of life for the 49ers until Victor Tucker caught his first touchdown of the season with 26 seconds remaining in the first half, knotting the game at 14.
The Miners’ offense is far from flashy, but they are undoubtedly methodical. Two scoring drives of 15 and 13 plays, the latter being a 98-yard drive, put UTEP in the driver's seat for much of the first half. Dana Dimel’s unit established the line of scrimmage and dominated the time of possession battle throughout the first 30 minutes.
Chris Reynolds had just four passing yards late in the second quarter, but the junior signal-caller hit his stride and finished the day 14-23 for 185 yards and two touchdowns. The 49ers regained the lead just how they drew it up - Reynolds fumbled the snap, scooped it up, then proceeded to juke a defender and drop a dime to his roommate Cameron Dollar in the back corner of the endzone.
Takeaways bailed out what was an extremely sluggish start for the 49ers’ offense, and Gavin Hardison’s inability to extend plays doomed the Miners' comeback efforts. UTEP’s first three possessions of the second half consisted of an interception, fumble, and a three-and-out, leaving the door open for the 49ers to capitalize and take a commanding 10 point lead early in the fourth quarter.
Ben DeLuca was all over the field, leading the team with nine tackles, two pass deflections, and a forced fumble. Defensive back Lance McMillian played the best game of his collegiate career, recording an interception, fumble recovery, and a tackle. McMillian was put on scholarship on Christmas day and is finding his role and excelling in it for Marcus West and Brandon Cooper’s unit.
Miners’ running back Deion Hankins was a wrecking ball throughout, carrying 19 times for 118 yards and a touchdown. Gavin Hardison utilized the soft coverage of garbage time to rack up 106 of his 204 yards on the day, as well as both touchdowns. The sophomore completed 19 of his 35 passes and two interceptions.
Aaron McAllister trucked a man on his way to a 36-yard scamper to put the finishing touches on a victorious home opener for the 49ers. Charlotte overcame 11 penalties for 122 yards and have scored touchdowns on nine consecutive red zone opportunities dating back to the victory over North Texas two weeks ago.
“It wasn’t pretty, but I think that whenever you’re able to win football games in this league it’s a big deal,” Will Healy said after the game. “
With just four scheduled games remaining, one of which is in Charlotte, the 49ers have quite the gauntlet ahead of them. The first test comes next weekend on Halloween in Durham against the one-win Blue Devils.
- Charlotte is 6-0 under Will Healy when leading heading into the fourth quarter
- Ben DeLuca joined Jeff Gemmell in the 300+ total tackle club for the 49ers
- UTEP outgained Charlotte in total yardage 374 to 329
- The 49ers lost the time of possession battle for the first time this season
- Aaron McAllister carried eight times for 68 yards and two scores
- Victor Tucker caught six of his eight targets for 86 yards and a touchdown
- Miners’ wideout Justin Garrett racked up 109 yards and two touchdowns for his second 100-yard performance of the season
- Stephen Forester led the Miners with 9 tackles and 2.5 for loss
- Micaleous Elder found the endzone for the second time in his collegiate career on a jet sweep late in the fourth quarter