Charlotte 49ers blitz Campbell in opener

dscott@charlotteobserver.comAugust 31, 2013 


Charlotte 49ers linebacker Mark Hogan (9) intercepts a pass and returns it for the first touchdown in 49ers’ football history. Teammate Micah Bryan celebrates.


From the game’s second play from scrimmage until it all ended with a sports-drink shower over coach Brad Lambert’s head, little went wrong for the Charlotte 49ers in their 52-7 victory against Campbell on Saturday at Richardson Stadium.

The 49ers couldn’t have hoped for more from the much-anticipated, super-hyped first game in school history, played before a packed house of 16,630.

“You couldn’t have written it out any better,” said Lambert, also a winner in his first game as a head coach. “So many people have put so much into this, it’s all pretty humbling."

If there was any question about the outcome, it vanished quickly. When linebacker Mark Hogan intercepted a Camels pass on the game’s second play and returned it 32 yards for a touchdown, Campbell was staggered, down a touchdown only 46 seconds into the game.

And when the 49ers took the ball on their first offensive possession and drove 66 yards in 10 plays – capped by a 1-yard touchdown pass from Matt Johnson to Justin Bolus – the Camels’ deficit was quickly 15-0 with 8 minutes, 47 seconds left in the first quarter. They were pretty much finished.

The difference between the two teams on opposite ends of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision spectrum was stark. The 49ers – who are headed to the Football Bowl Subdivision’s Conference USA in 2015 – were bigger, stronger, faster and more athletic than the Camels, who play in the non-scholarship Pioneer League.

“It was the perfect beginning for them … when they scored,” said first-year Campbell coach Mike Minter, a former Carolina Panthers defensive back. “They’re good, they’ve got some good athletes and we couldn’t stop them.”

The 49ers, who led 35-7 at halftime, outgained the Camels 488 yards to 287. Charlotte forced four turnovers, two of which led to 49ers scores. Kicker Blake Brewer was perfect in his three field-goal attempts, hitting from 35, 20 and 40 yards.

“It all went well,” said Lambert, whose team plays Division II Chowan next Saturday. “With Mark scoring on the second play, the offense humming pretty good and Blake playing well.

“We looked great in the pregame. I knew (the players) were going to fire. I didn’t know if we were going to win, but they were going to fire.”

Johnson, a redshirt freshman like most of Charlotte’s starters, completed 19-of-29 passes for 282 yards and three touchdowns. The running game was also effective, with true freshman Kalif Phillips (66 yards, one touchdown) and redshirt freshman Alan Barnwell (55 yards) averaging more than 6 yards per carry.

Defensively, linebacker Micah Bryan led the way with eight tackles. Redshirt freshman cornerback Terrance Winchester had an interception.

“I can’t say enough how proud I am of the young guys,” said Hogan, a graduate-student transfer from Georgia State. “There were some of the hardest elements out there, with how hot it was and the overall excitement. But we stayed on track.”

After Hogan and Bolus’ early touchdowns, the 49ers kept the pressure on. Johnson hit Austin Duke on a 19-yard score late in the first quarter. Brewer then kicked his first field goal and Phillips scored on a 15-yard run to make it 32-0 with 9:32 left in the first half.

Charlotte’s final touchdowns came on a 47-yard pass from Johnson to freshman Trent Bostick and a 33-yard run by Corey Nesmith Jr.

“We were prepared for two years for this,” said Duke, a former Independence High star who was part of the 49ers’ first recruiting class. We came focused and ready to execute. But we came out to win, and that was the most important goal."

Scott: 704-358-5889; Twitter: @davidscott14

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