Charlotte 49ers blasted by Florida Atlantic in season opener

(AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

CHARLOTTE — While their season-opening performance got off to a promising start, the Charlotte 49ers found themselves at the bottom end of a 43-13 blowout road loss to the Florida Atlantic Owls on Saturday night.

Less than three minutes into the game, Charlotte quarterback Chris Reynolds connected with wide receiver Grant DuBose on a ten-yard route that he took 52 yards for the first score of the matchup. 

Reynolds — plagued throughout the contest with an early injury to his left arm — finished the game with 196 passing yards and two touchdowns as he completed 14 of 19 passes. His most explosive target, DuBose, was a glimmer of hope for the Niners all night, coming away with a team-high 89 yards and two scores. 

After that initial scoring drive, it was all downhill for the Niners after that as FAU quarterback N’Kosi Perry and running back Larry McCammon led the Owls to 33 unanswered points in a runaway victory where they cruised over the Niners in total yardage, 482-279.

“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.”

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 had an impressive season opener as he was 16-for-22 with 256 yards and 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 and turning it into a pick six — 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 being down by 19 points, the Niners were still clinging to hope as Reynolds returned for the second half after taking the second quarter off to rest his arm. Unfortunately for Charlotte, the second half of play was much of the same.

Perry threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Je’Quan Burton for 30 yds 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 offensive gameplan, 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.