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After first win, Charlotte 49ers look ahead to home football debut
Conference USA rival Fla. International next
 
Published Tuesday, October 13, 2020
by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post

CHARLOTTE 49ERS ATHLETICS
Charlotte running back Aaron McAllister earned Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week after racking up 214 offensive yards in the 49ers' 49-21 win against North Texas.

The Charlotte 49ers are about to play their first home football game in 329 days.

They host Florida International (0-2, 0-1 Conference USA) on Oct. 17 at 8 p.m. The game will be shown on ESPNU and 1,072 fans will be allowed to attend.  Charlotte lost 48-23 in Florida last season, and the 1-2 49ers are preparing for what coach Will Healy described Tuesday as a “four-quarter war.”

“We watched some film from last year this morning, and they pounded us,” he said.

Healy also said the fact that this game is the 49ers’ home opener has yet to sink in as he is focused on getting through COVID-19 testing. Charlotte previously scheduled home opener against non-conference opponent Georgia State on Sept. 26 was postponed due to Georgia State misreading COVID-19 results.

“You’re still so early in the week, and so many crazy things have happened to us over the last couple weeks that it hasn’t really hit yet,” Healy said. “You’re still just trying to survive testing and make sure that you have the ability to play the game.”

Charlotte, 1-1 in C-USA, notched their first win of the season last week with a 49-21 victory against North Texas, setting school records for points, touchdowns (seven) and total offense (599 yards) in a league game. The offense produced 308 passing yards and three touchdowns and 291 rushing yards and four touchdowns. They went 5-of-5 in the red zone – scoring a touchdown each time – and 8-of-16 on third-down conversions.

Six players scored for Charlotte, including three first-year players: freshman running back Chavon McEachern on a 1-yard rush, freshman tight end Taylor Thompson on a 15-yard catch and graduate transfer Tre Harbison on an 11-yard run. Junior quarterback Chris Reynolds also had an 18-yard catch for a touchdown from junior transfer quarterback Dom Shoffner. It was Shoffner’s first appearance for the 49ers, and Healy intends to work him into the mix more often.

“[Shoffner] definitely earned more reps,” Healy said. “He brought a spark to us.”

Senior Aaron McAllister’s performance proved pivotal in the Charlotte run game. The C-USA offensive player of the week had a career-high 214 yards total offense (140 rushing) against North Texas and his 71-yard touchdown reception and 66-yard scoring run are the 49ers’ longest plays from scrimmage. McAllister set a school record for the longest kick return in their season opener against Appalachian State with a 97-yard score. In 2018, he also set the program record for the longest run (89 yards). He is third all time for the 49ers with 1,404 career rushing yards. He has accomplished this without being the starter he was expected to be after Benny LeMay graduated.

“Looking back at the work I’ve put in since I’ve been here, [Saturday] was awesome, but it’s not over yet,” McAllister said. “I’m really not going to pay that much attention to it, and just keep working, and try to get one the next week and the week after.”

Said Healy: “I could not be more proud of who he is as a person and the adversity he faced before he even played a football game. Another guy starts over him. [McAllister] is fifth-year senior. He doesn’t get a whole lot of touches in that game. He responds with a 97-yard kickoff return. He doesn’t start again on Saturday, and he’s the conference player of the week. It’s fun to watch a guy who does things the right way like A-Mac does have success. He’s a huge part of our culture and our program. He’s obviously a really good football player. I think guys can learn a lot from how he responded to his own adversity.”

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