By MALCOLM BUTLER, Lincoln Parish Journal
CHARLOTTE – Calvin Camp rushed for 111 yards and three touchdowns to lead Charlotte (3-9, 2-6) to its first home win of the season as the 49ers defeated Louisiana Tech 26-21 Saturday afternoon at Jerry Richardson Stadium.
While the 49ers snapped their six-game home losing streak, the Bulldogs (3-8, 2-5) saw their streak of consecutive road losses grow to 14.
“Any time you lose a close game, you can look at so many different moments or plays during the game,” said first-year Tech coach Sonny Cumbie. “Today is no different.”
Tech’s moments began in the first quarter when a 36-yard field goal attempt was blocked. They continued late into the second quarter when true freshman Landry Lyddy, the Calvary Baptist product, threw the first of two interceptions with 60 seconds to play. Charlotte then reeled off back-to-back chunk plays down the seam to their tight end to set up a field goal on the final play of the half, giving the 49ers a 13-7 lead at the break.
The next moment came early in the third quarter. On second down and goal from the three yard line, Lyddy tried to throw a throw-back screen pass to the weak side of the field. Lyddy didn’t put enough air under the ball and 49ers defensive end Markees Watts made a one-handed interception, returning it to the 49ers 42-yard line to squash one of the few scoring opportunities Tech manufactured.
“The turnovers were fatal, killing our momentum,” said Cumbie. “We were running the ball well, and I should not have called that play. That one was on me.”
Trailing 19-14 in the fourth quarter, Tech was forced to punt after a three-and-out series. The Bulldogs defense, which had been solid against the run for the majority of the day, watched Camp take two handoffs and cover 58 yards, the final 33 untouched to the end zone as Charlotte increased its lead to 26-14 with 5:58 remaining.
Camp, who led the 49ers in rushing in 2021, saw action in only his second game of this season, but made the most of it, scoring on runs of 4, 25 and 33 yards.
After the Bulldogs responded with a scoring drive capped by Marquis Crosby’s third rushing TD of the day — this one from 11-yards out with 3:05 to play — Tech elected to kick away with all three timeouts remaining.
However, Charlotte picked up three first downs to run out the clock and secure the win on the 49ers’ Senior Day.
“I think our players continued to play hard,” said Cumbie. “There was a strong sense of belief. We did not execute well enough though. That has been the same thing that has happened to us throughout the year. The margin for error is not very big.”
Tech recorded eight tackles for loss in the game, including three sacks, while constantly pressuring 49ers QB Chris Reynolds all afternoon. However, Reynolds — making his 41st and final start for Charlotte — completed 20-of-30 passes for 267 yards and no interceptions.
“I was pleased with how our defense played overall,” said Cumbie. “Charlotte played an inspired game. It is a credit to them and their coaching staff under all of the adversity they have been facing.”
Crosby led the Bulldogs with 105 yards rushing and three scores while Lyddy was 23-of-31 for 213 yards and the two interceptions. Smoke Harris caught nine passes for 51 yards while Cyrus Allen added three receptions for 82 yards.
The Bulldogs will conclude their 2022 season next Saturday when they host UAB at Joe Aillet Stadium for Senior Day. Kickoff is slated for 2:30.
“We have one more week to improve our football team,” said Cumbie.