The 49ers of Charlotte traveled to Boone for their second matchup against the Appalachian State Mountaineers.
Exactly one year ago the Appalachian State Mountaineers traveled down the mountain to Jerry Richardson Stadium and fully dismantled the 49ers. This year, though the outcome was the same, the 49ers came to Boone and showed that they were there to compete.
Appalachian State was in control but couldn’t put the 49ers away.
Last year Zac Thomas threw for 295 yards and three touchdowns in a game that proved to a lot of people that he was the real deal. Without his top receiver Corey Sutton for a second straight week, due to suspension, Thomas was productive in Saturday’s game notching 182 yards and three touchdowns.
However, with the defense struggling, the Mountaineers needed production from more than Thomas and thats where Darrynton Evans comes into the equation. The junior running back carried the ball 19 times and racked up 234 yards with three touchdowns. Evans started hot, breaking out with an 87-yard touchdown on the first play of the game and kept the tempo going the whole game, giving the Mountaineers the extra edge they needed on offense. Add on a 45-yard onside kick return and you might say Darrynton Evans had himself a day.
Where the offense and special teams thrived for the Mountaineers, they were nearly overshadowed by the woes of the defense. Appalachian State gave up the most points on their home turf (41) since the University of Miami defeated the Mountaineers 45-10 in 2016. Charlotte tallied 533 offensive yards and allowed 49er quarterback Chris Reynolds to rack up 296 yards and find the end zone four times, only picking the sophomore quarterback one time.
When asked about the defenses inability to slow down the 49ers offense, Mountaineer Head Coach Eliah Drinkwitz said in a post-game press conference;
"They were just moving the ball. We couldn’t get them in behind-the-chains moments, and when we did, we made stupid penalties like pass interference or gave up deep balls. We have to do a better job of keeping the ball in front of us and not letting it get thrown over our head. That’s going to be an emphasis this week."
With two weeks until the Mountaineers head to Chapel Hill to face off against the, hotter than expected, Tar Heels it is apparent Coach Drinkwitz has several issues to address on the defensive side of the ball.
Charlotte was able to show that they were a worthy competitor for the Mountaineers after their devastating defeat last year raised questions. Their offense was absolutely rolling, Senior back Benny Lemay racked up two touchdowns on 14 carries. Quarterback Chris Reynolds redeemed himself against the Mountaineers with a solid game after being unable to find the end zone last year.
Charlotte 49ers head coach Will Healy seemed upbeat about the performance by his guys after the game, saying:
"You find out a lot about yourselves. The new staff really got to see what kind of fight the team has after this battle. I think you also learn some lessons the hard way where we definitely made some mistakes we felt like the game could have turned out a little differently. But against great football teams that’s what they do. They capitalize, and we knew Appalachian State was really good and very well-coached. We knew we could not do anything to hurt ourselves, and we did it too much in the first half."
The 49ers will take return home to take on UMass next Saturday, looking to keep the momentum rolling.