Charlotte 49ers blasted by Florida Atlantic in season opener

The Niners surrendered 33 unanswered points in the game

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

CHARLOTTE — Despite a promising start to their season opener, the Charlotte 49ers found themselves at the wrong end of a 43-13 blowout road loss to Florida Atlantic on Saturday night.

Less than three minutes into the game, Charlotte quarterback Chris Reynolds connected with wide receiver Grant DuBose on a 10-yard route that he took 52 yards for the game’s opening score.

But it was all downhill for the Niners from there as FAU quarterback N’Kosi Perry and running back Larry McCammon led the Owls to 33 unanswered points in a runaway victory in which they outgained the Niners 482 to 279.

“We got our absolute butt kicked. As bad as we’ve gotten our butt’s kicked since we’ve been here. Not acceptable,” Charlotte coach Will Healy said after the game. “We were sloppy. Way too many busts. Had plenty of opportunities. We’ve got a long way to go. It’s kind of one of those things where you feel really good about it heading into the game, and then you get punched in the mouth and you realize how much work is left to be done.”

Reynolds was suffered a first-half injury to his left arm but returned in the second half to finish the game with 196 passing yards and two touchdowns on 14-of-19 passing. DuBose, Reynolds’ top target, finished with a team-high 89 yards and two scores.

McCammon recorded the Owls’ first points with a 53-yard touchdown run to the house early in the first quarter. The sophomore finished the game with 118 yards from his 14 carries.

Following a 49ers punt, the Owls marched down the field but settled for a 43-yard field goal from kicker Morgan Suarez.

With 8:42 left in the second quarter, Perry ran a QB sneak for a 2-yard score to make it a 17-7 game following the extra point. The sixth-year senior was 16 for 22 for 256 yards with no turnovers.

Suarez added another field goal at the 3:56 mark to increase the Owls’ lead to 20-7.

FAU capped off its dominant first half by taking a tipped pass thrown by Charlotte backup quarterback James Foster — in for the injured Reynolds — and turning it into a pick-six when cornerback Justin McKithen ran it back 63 yards with just 17 seconds left on the clock. 

At halftime, the Owls held a 26-7 Owls lead as well as a 269-129 advantage in yardage. 

Despite Reynolds’ return after halftime, the second half was much of the same.

Perry threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Je’Quan Burton for 30 yards early in the third quarter to make it a 33-7 game after the extra point. 

With 2:04 left in the third quarter, Reynolds connected with DuBose on a 20-yard touchdown catch. The Niners were unsuccessful on their two-point conversion attempt and the score stood at 33-13.

FAU added to its lead one minute into the fourth quarter as Zuberi Mobley found the end zone on a one-yard rush up the middle. The Owls increased their lead to 30 points as Suarez added his third field goal of the night with 7:46 left in the game. 

While Charlotte’s defense collectively struggled to contain FAU’s attack, the Niners’ own offense never quite got into a solid rhythm for consecutive drives. Shadrick Byrd accounted for 51 of the Niners’ 62 rushing yards — a far cry from the Owls’ 218 yards on the ground.

The 49ers will look to regroup in their next game as they host William & Mary in Jerry Richardson Stadium on Sept. 2.