49ers respond in 2nd half, win 33-9

The Charlotte 49ers (1-0) kicked it into gear in the second half as they coasted to a 33-9 victory over the Campbell Fighting Camels (0-1) on the road on Thursday night.

Running back tandem Kalif Phillips and true freshman Maetron Thomas sparked the 49ers offense that struggled throughout the entirety of the first half. Phillips racked up 70 yards rushing and scored three touchdowns before leaving the game in the third quarter with cramps. Thomas filled in nicely in the final quarter, carrying the ball just six times while picking up 74 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown run on the first carry of his career.

Charlotte quarterback Matt Johnson limped out of the gates on the first drive, overthrowing his intended target which resulted in an interception for the Campbell defense.

Missed field goals troubled the Fighting Camels during the first half, missing their first two attempts of the ball game. Charlotte kicker Blake Brewer nailed a school-record 50-yard field goal in the first quarter, followed by another 38-yard boot late in the quarter to give the 49ers a 6-0 lead after one.

Charlotte looked out of sync throughout the second quarter but the defense held strong. Campbell drove the ball 91 yards late in the half, but the 49ers forced a field goal with three seconds left to preserve a 6-3 lead heading into the locker room.

Johnson completed just 35 percent of his passes in the first half for only 42 yards. The Fighting Camels put up 125 yards through the air, but couldn’t overcome the two missed field goals early on.

The 49ers offense began to find a rhythm on their first drive of the second half behind the arm of Johnson and the legs of Phillips. Phillips capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown that put the 49ers on top 13-3 early in the third quarter.

Phillips found the end zone two more times in the quarter, propelling Charlotte to a 27-3 lead after three. Unfortunately, Phillips went down with cramps after his third and final touchdown of the night. The 49ers coaching staff decided to hold their starting running back out for the remainder of the game with a 24-point advantage heading into the final quarter.

Thomas entered the game for Charlotte in place of Phillips and immediately broke a 40-yard touchdown run on the first carry of his career following an interception by Tyler DeStefani on the previous Campbell drive.

Campbell scored their lone touchdown of the night early in the fourth quarter on a 23-yard back-shoulder catch by Ben Bolling. The 49ers pulled their starters in the final quarter en route to a 33-9 final score, improving to 1-0 to kickoff year two of football in Queen City.

Johnson picked it up in the second half completing 8-of-13 passes for 147 yards. Austin Duke, the team’s leading receiver from 2013, reeled in five catches for 51 yards in the final 30 minutes. Justin Bolus set a new school record when he snagged a 62-yard pass from Johnson that set up Phillips’ final touchdown of the night.

Charlotte’s defense gave up 341 yards on the night, but stood tough whenever Campbell threatened the end zone. Ardy Holmes led the 49ers with 11 tackles in the game and newcomer Branden Dozier broke up three passes.

Charlotte Head Coach Brad Lambert said all the right things in the locker room at halftime, lifting his team after a difficult first half.

“I thought our guys responded well in the second half,” said Lambert post game. “We knew (Campbell) would be ready. We knew what was coming and they didn’t disappoint. Just really proud of our guys and the way they responded.”

The 49ers will be working on their offensive rhythm in practice this week leading up to their home opener against Johnson C. Smith on Saturday, September 6 inside Jerry Richardson Stadium. Johnson C. Smith is off this weekend and will open the season next weekend in Charlotte.



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