CHARLOTTE — North Carolina A&T’s high-powered offense acquitted itself well against an FBS opponent Saturday, but it was a play by its defense that led to a 34-31 victory against in-state rival Charlotte before a record crowd of 18,651 at Jerry Richardson Stadium.
With the Aggies clinging to a three-point lead and less than a minute remaining, redshirt freshman Franklin “Mac” McCain III intercepted a pass by 49ers quarterback Hasaan Klugh and returned it 74 yards for the clinching touchdown.
McCain’s second interception of the game helped A&T preserve its third win in five years against an FCS team. The Aggies also beat Appalachian State in Boone in 2013 and Kent State in 2016.
“For our little ragtag bunch from Greensboro to come over here and play with the big boys and come out with a win is a big deal,” A&T coach Rod Broadway told ncataggies.com after his 50th career win at the school.
Broadway’s team, which scored 101 points in its first two games and ranks among the FCS leaders in total offense, dominated the first three quarters after Charlotte jumped out to an early 7-0 lead.
Quarterback Lamar Raynard hit Malik Wilson with a 17-yard touchdown pass to get the Aggies (3-0) on the board, then the ground game took over with Jaquil Capel scoring on a 1-yard run and Marquell Cartwright adding a pair of rushing scores. The second of those touchdowns, which put the A&T ahead 28-10 late in the third quarter, was set up by McCain’s first interception.
Raynard completed 15 of his 26 passes for 259 yards and extended his streak of passes without an interception to 118. He also ran the ball nine times for 61 yards.
Charlotte (0-3) rallied with a touchdown on the final play of the third quarter when Klugh hit T.L. Ford with a 28-yard scoring pass. A 4-yard pass from Klugh to R.J. Tyler with 6:12 to go got the 49ers back to within one score.
But the comeback bid ended when Klugh, who started his career at A&T, was picked off by McCain.
Charlotte added a final score on Klugh’s third touchdown pass of the day, a 44-yarder to Workpeh Kofa with eight seconds remaining. The 49ers outgained the Aggies 436-402, but A&T won the turnover battle 3-0.
“Give credit to A&T,” 49ers head coach Brad Lambert told charlotte49ers.com. “They made a play there at the end of the game. I thought they were a good team going into it — no different going out. We dug too deep of a hole.”