|49ers run to Conference USA opening win vs. Old Dominion|
|Charlotte take down Monarchs for first time|
|Published Thursday, September 13, 2018 8:02 pm|
Run the ball and win.
The Charlotte 49ers (2-1) made program history in their 28-25 win against Old Dominion (0-3). It marked their first win against the Monarchs since joining Conference USA in 2015, as well as their first win in a conference opener.
“It was huge,” coach Brad Lambert said. “We’ve been in some good battles with these guys, and we came out on the back end every time. It was good to finish it off, be able to take a knee and win the game, because we’ve been in some big games with them and it was time to win one of them.”
Charlotte stands 2-1 in games when they win the rushing battle. They had 47 carries for 221 yards and two touchdowns against Fordham, 43 tries for 95 yards in a loss to Appalachian State and 46 attempts for 171 yards and a touchdown against Old Dominion. Junior running back Benny LeMay (25 carries for 93 yards against the Monarchs) leads the 49ers with 57 carries for 272 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore running back Aaron McAllister has 28 carries for 131 yards and one touchdown, which he scored against Old Dominion along with 13 carries for 60 yards.
“It’s a critical thing to do on offense, to be able to run the ball,” LeMay said. “We’ve got to be able to run the ball to be able to open the pass. I take that personally—me and all the running backs. We’ve got to set the tone. One of our coaches always says, ‘the legs feed the wolf,’ and the team is the wolf, and we’re the legs. We’ve got to feed it. That’s just one thing that we always take pride in.”
A well-executed run game opens the passing game for freshman quarterback Chris Reynolds, who completed 23-of-34 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns. He was sacked once.
“It opens the pass,” Reynolds said. “When you see these guys getting hit by one person, and chugging for another four yards, that kills the defense, and that helps me out by opening up the pass game.”
Charlotte’s conference opener was moved up from Sept. 15 to accommodate anticipated inclement weather due to Hurricane Florence.
“We had the mindset that we were going to play this weekend,” said senior linebacker Juwan Foggie, who tallied five tackles and an interception. “We were going to play no matter what day it was going to be. We had two good strong days at practice, and we came out here and showed it.”
Foggie, who has two of the 49ers’ three picks, returned an interception for 47 yards against ODU, the fourth longest in program history.
“I saw the sun, and at the last second, I saw the ball,” Foggie said. “I said, ‘OK. I’ve got to catch it,’ and I caught it.”
Charlotte, which concludes their three-game homestretch 2-1, head to Massachusetts on Sept. 22 for their first road game.
“It’s just the next game,” Lambert said. “We just want to win the next one. Tomorrow we’ve got to get onto UMass. It’s the next game, and we try to keep our team focused on that. One day at a time. I think they’ve done a really good job at that. I didn’t know how they would come out [today], on a short week basically, because we took Monday off. We had two practices. They came out and fired. I was really proud of them.”
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