CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The Presbyterian College football team fell to Charlotte, 34-10, on Saturday afternoon at Jerry Richardson Stadium in front of a record crowd of 16,631. The Blue Hose fell to 0-2 with the loss while Charlotte improved to 2-0 in its first season at the FBS level in Conference USA.
“It was a very frustrating day offensively,” said head coach Harold Nichols after the game. “A lot of credit goes to Charlotte’s front seven. They did a good job shutting down our run game and we had a tough time protecting the passer when we did throw. I thought we did some decent things in the second half but not enough to impact the football game.”
The Blue Hose struggled to move the football against a stout Charlotte defense, gaining 112 yards in the game with 103 coming on the ground. Darrell Bridges was able to push through, rushing 22 times for 62 yards and a touchdown, including a long of 21, to lead the offense. Backup quarterback Ben Cheek added 12 carries for 28 yards and Jordan Hallums’s only carry of the game went for 19 yards to set up a PC score.
PC totaled four sacks in the game after recording none a week ago against Miami (OH). Ugonna Akoh, Daron Dickey and Gyasi Yeldell each recorded a solo sack while Curtis Bey and Khari Rosier teamed up for one.
Ed Britt led the defense with a game-high and career-high 16 tackles in the game. That is the most tackles by a Blue Hose player since 2012 when teammate Donelle Williams racked up 16 tackles against Charleston Southern. Akoh added a career-high 10 tackles while Dickey had a career-high nine tackles.
“Defensively, we got some three-and-outs and did some decent things,” Nichols said. “But we gave up too many big plays. They are a very talented group and it was a big challenge for us to come up here and try to beat a good Charlotte team.”
The Blue Hose defense had some success early and forced a pair of Charlotte miscues. The 49ers fumbled in to the end zone with the ball going out-of-bounds on its second drive of the game to give PC the ball back. Two drives later, PC got a key stop on third down to force a field goal attempt that missed wide right to keep it a scoreless game at the time.
Charlotte got on the board late in the first quarter on a six-yard touchdown pass to Trent Bostick from Matt Johnson to take an early 7-0 lead. They would then score three times in the second quarter to take a 24-0 halftime lead. Blake Brewer nailed a 24-yard field goal midway through the quarter before the 49ers got touchdowns on each of their next two drives to extend the lead.
The 49ers then added to the lead with a pair of scores in the third quarter. PC’s defense forced another Brewer field goal, this time from 35 yards, before Charlotte put it out of reach with a nine-yard touchdown pass with 1:52 remaining in the third quarter.
PC was able to break through with a pair of strong drives in the fourth quarter. The Blue Hose put together a 13-play, 63-yard drive that spanned 5:35 and resulted in a 21-yard field goal by freshman Brett Norton, the first of his career, to start the quarter.
The Blue Hose would go 64 yards on nine plays on their next drive, holding the ball for over 5:02 for their first touchdown of the game. The drive was highlighted by a 21-yard rush by Bridges and a 19-yard run by Hallums before Bridges punched it in from a yard out to make a 34-10 game, following the extra point.
Austin Duke led the offensive threat for Charlotte, hauling in nine catches for a 166 yards and a touchdown. The two 49ers’ quarterbacks, Brooks Braden and Matt Johnson, combined to go 20-for-29 for 276 yards and three touchdowns in the win.
The Blue Hose will host their home opener against Campbell next Saturday at Bailey Memorial Stadium at 7 p.m.