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49ers stay loose during up-and-down season
The Charlotte 49ers discovered that fine line between having fun and being productive in last week’s college football victory against Presbyterian.
Getting back to that place Saturday, when the 49ers (3-2) host 25th-ranked Gardner-Webb (4-1) at Richardson Stadium, will be a whole other matter.
“What I like about our team is how we come to work every day and prepare,” said coach Brad Lambert, whose 49ers beat Presbyterian 45-21. “They’ve stayed off the roller coaster and been even-keeled, which is good for us as a young team.”
Of course, breaking a two-game losing streak by scoring 38 consecutive points during one stretch against Presbyterian lent itself to good times for Charlotte.
“We felt like (this) game would be the one that everything really clicks,” said redshirt freshman nose tackle Larry Ogunjobi. “We had fun for once. We really came out and enjoyed the game of football. The coaches said that when we step on the field there should be fire in our eyes. So we had a great time, enjoying ourselves and laughing.”
Gardner-Webb, the 49ers’ second-straight Big South opponent, will present a much tougher obstacle for Charlotte. The 49ers haven’t fared well against the two previous quality Football Championship Subdivision teams they have played during lopsided losses to N.C. Central and James Madison.
“Against JMU, we were apprehensive,” said Ogunjobi, who has 18 tackles, including four for losses and a sack, this season. “The way we came out, it could have gone either way.”
Against Presbyterian, the 49ers cut down on the turnovers that plagued them against N.C. Central (seven) and James Madison (four). The only mistake was an interception thrown by quarterback Matt Johnson in the second quarter – and that came on a deflection.
“As hard as I play and as physical as I am, none of that matters if the ball’s not in the right person’s hands,” said Johnson, who is tied for 10th in the FCS with 11 touchdown passes. “I’m focusing on where the ball needs to be. It’s all above the neck for me.”
• About 500 tickets were still available for the Charlotte-Gardner-Webb game as of Tuesday afternoon. The 49ers’ first three home games were sellouts.
• The 49ers lead the FCS in turnovers forced (19) and fumbles recovered (10). Charlotte is tied forfifth in interceptions (nine) and tied for fourth in tackles-for-loss (nine per game).
• Cadets from the ROTC programs at Charlotte and Gardner-Webb will commemorate Military Appreciation Day on Saturday by carrying the game ball on a 60-mile relay run from the Bulldogs’ Spangler Stadium to Richardson Stadium. The run begins at 4:15 a.m. in Boiling Springs.
By David Scott, Charlotte Observer