Well, it finally happened. Charlotte won its first game of the season over UAB in a wild finish.
For Blazer fans, it’s a tackle of reality that brings them back to earth after wins over Louisiana Tech and Middle Tennessee State.
For Charlotte fans, it’s jubilation that the team not only has a win this season, but a first win at home over an FBS opponent in school history.
UAB could not have had a better start to the game on defense. The Blazers forced a turnover on downs on the first Charlotte drive, then had back-to-back interceptions.
The second interception by Hasaan Klugh set up UAB at the 49ers’ 12-yard line. One play later, UAB quarterback A.J. Erdely found a wide-open Hayden Pittman for the touchdown. The Blazers held a 7-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Just before halftime UAB struck again on a five-play, 80-yard drive that was capped off by an Erdely 3-yard touchdown run. UAB lead 14-0 at half.
UAB received the second half kickoff and drove down to the Charlotte 16-yard line. The Blazers were stopped short on third down and settled for a 25-yard field goal by Nick Vogel to lead 17-0. This is where the Blazers began to fall apart.
The Blazers forced the 49ers to punt, but UAB’s Andre Wilson muffed the punt and Charlotte regained possession at the UAB 35-yard line. Klugh caught fire and ended the short drive on a 9-yard touchdown run to cut the deficit to 17-7.
On Charlotte’s first drive of the fourth quarter, the 49ers found the end zone in one play on a 68-yard touchdown pass from Klugh to Trent Bostick. The 49ers cut the score to 17-14 with 10:43 still left to play.
The ensuing drive for the Blazers started with promise as running back Spencer Brown looked like the freshman phenom fans have seen all year.
The good feelings ended after Brown rushed for a 12-yard gain but was stripped during a pile up. Charlotte returned the fumble 26 yards to the UAB 31-yard line. UAB was able to hold Charlotte to a field goal that tied the game 17-17.
The game went to overtime and UAB got the ball first. Erdely carried the Blazers to the end zone with four runs on the six-play drive. The Blazers took the 24-17 lead.
The UAB defense picked a bad time to not get off the field on third down. Charlotte converted on a 3rd-and-9 but only gained three yards on a second 3rd-and-9. Charlotte got the first down on a 4th-and-6 down to the 1-yard line.
Klugh took the ball in on the next play, and the 49ers decided to go for two. The 49ers scored on a reversal wide receiver pass from Chris Montgomery to Klugh for the 25-24 win.
Klugh finished with 154 yards passing with one touchdown and two interceptions. Klugh gave the UAB defense fits with two rushing touchdowns and 140 yards rushing as well.
Erdely passed for 182 yards with one touchdown and added two touchdowns on the ground. The Charlotte run defense looked strong on Saturday, holding Brown to 71 yards.
Charlotte only converted three of their 18 third downs in the game. Coming into Saturday’s game, UAB had not allowed a fourth down conversion all season, but allowed three of Charlotte’s four fourth down conversions.
As a UAB fan, I felt physically sick. It was a hard loss to process, but it does make you look back at previous games.
UAB has given up big leads this season (23-5 to Coastal Carolina and 13-0 to Louisiana Tech) but they hung on to win. The Blazers led 17-0 and then the mistakes and play calling caught up with them.
In the last three games, UAB has had 13 points combined in the second half of each game (seven vs. La Tech, three vs. MTSU, three vs. Charlotte).
So where do these teams go from here? UAB (4-3, 2-2 in conference) heads to Hattiesburg to take on Southern Miss on October 28.
Southern Miss erased an 11-point deficit with four minutes remaining against Louisiana Tech to win in double OT. Charlotte (1-7, 1-3 in conference) will go on a bye week before heading to Old Dominion on November 4.