‘Cats win, 49ers fall

Defense Leads Davidson Past Livingstone 38-12

DAVIDSON, N.C. – In addition to forcing four first-half turnovers, Davidson jumped out to a 38-0 lead en route to a 38-12 victory over Livingstone in non-conference football action Saturday night at Richardson Stadium.

With the win, the Wildcats open the season 2-1 for the first time since the 2011 campaign, while the Blue Bears fall to 1-2.

Davidson, which led 21-0 late in the first quarter, took advantage of two Livingstone special team miscues. Following a failed fake punt, quarterback Stockton McGuire put the ‘Cats up 6-0 with a six-yard run.

Midway through the first, Livingstone punter Tyler Keene mishandled a snap that Thomas Sykes scooped up and took to the end zone for Davidson, the first of two defensive scores.

Along with forcing a combined nine turnovers in their last two contests, the Wildcats’ defense held Livingstone to just 68 yards on the ground, while finishing with six sacks.

McGuire connected with Derek Jones on a 12-yard pass with 3:29 left in the quarter to cap off a seven-play 58-yard drive.

Freshman Preston Grase extended the margin to 30-0 when his picked off Bryan Digsby and returned his first career interception 43-yards for a touchdown.

Keylan Brown, who rushed for 95 yards and a score in Davidson’s win over Kentucky Wesleyan last weekend, led both teams with 87 yards on 19 carries, including an eight-yard touchdown scamper just prior to the half.

Digsby paced the Blue Bears with 201 yards in the air, including 102 on eight catches to wide receiver Everett Ransom.

The Wildcats open Pioneer Football League play next Saturday, Sept. 24 when they visit Valparaiso. Kickoff from Brown Field is slated for 1 p.m.

Eastern Michigan Upends Charlotte, 37-19

Eastern Michigan took the early lead on the 49ers (1-2) and thwarted Charlotte’s comeback efforts with key turnovers to grab a 37-19 victory at Jerry Richardson Stadium.

The Eagles (2-1) went ahead 7-0 in the first quarter and led 17-3 at the half before forcing two third quarter turnovers to push ahead 34-6.

The 49ers rallied with two fourth quarter scores and had another drive stopped in the red zone on fourth down.

Statistically, Charlotte and Eastern Michigan looked similar. Eastern Michigan had 357 yards of total offense.  Charlotte had 346.  EMU was better on third down (7 of 13) but Charlotte was 8-of-20 and made up for the slight difference by going 3-of-4 on 4th down.

For the first time this year, however, Charlotte lost the turnover battle – and the Eagles took advantage by stopping the 49ers opening drive of the second half in EMU territory on a fumble and then returning an interception for a TD, late in the quarter.

“Going into halftime, I was really proud and thought we had things under control,” head coach Brad Lambert said.  In the second half, we did a few things we can’t do and gave up some plays.  The biggest thing is that we need to clean up mistakes.”

Charlotte was without starting running back Kalif Phillips, who is nursing a hamstring injury and did not dress.  Freshman Robert Washington filled in nicely however, rushing for 120 yards on 20 carries.  It was Washington’s first 100-yard game and the second-most rushing yards ever by a true freshman for the 49ers.

Hasaan Klugh came off the bench to replace starting QB Kevin Olsen, who left the game late in the third due to cramps.  Klugh threw fourth-quarter TD passes to Workpeh Kofa and TL Ford II to close the gap.  It was Ford II’s second straight game with a TD reception while Kofa made his first career TD catch.  The two TD passes were the first of Klugh’s career.

“We never give up,” said Ford, “but when we have penalties and mental mistakes like we did tonight, it makes things that much harder.”

EMU took a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter when Ian Eriksen capped the game’s first substantial drive with a five-yard TD run.  Charlotte answered with a 29-yard field goal to open the second quarter to make it 7-3.  An EMU field goal push the lead back to 7, 10-3.

Jaylen Pickett pulled down his first interception and returned it to the Charlotte 20 to set up the Eagle second TD of the game:  a five-yard pass from Todd Porter to Nigel Kirby to make it a 17-3 game at the half.

After forcing a fumble just across midfield, the Eagle struck quick with a 49 yard TD pass from Porter to Johnnie Niupalau.  Porter was 24-for-31 for 285 yards and had three passes of 30 or more yards.

“They came in and played really hard.  They had some guys make good plays and I thought the quarterback played well and made timely plays.” Lambert said.  “There were too many deep balls in our secondary.”

After Niupalau’s 49-yard TD grab put the Eagles ahead, 24-3, Charlotte drove to the EMU eight but had to settle for another Stephen Muscarello field goal to make it 24-6.  EMU’s 36-yard FG made it 27-6 before Pickett pulled down his second INT of the game and ran it back 36 yards for the touchdown.

Trailing 34-6 at the end of three, Klugh found Kofa for a 10-yard TD early in the fourth quarter.  After the defense forced a three-and-out, Klugh completed an 11-play; 83-yard drive with a 28-yard TD strike to Ford II, to make it 34-19 with 9:42 left.

The Eagles chewed up over six minutes on their next drive and kicked a field goal to increase the lead to 37-19 with just over three minutes remaining.

Charlotte’s final drive went 45 yards on nine plays, but the 49ers could not convert on 4th down at the EMU 11 in the final minute.

Olsen finished the game with 14-of-28 passing for 123 yards and his first two interceptions of the season.  Klugh was 9-of-15 for 66 yards and two TDs.  Austin Duke led the 49ers receivers for the third straight game with 84 yards while Ford II finished with 51.

Senior LB Nick Cook led the 49ers for the third straight game in tackles, with 12 while r-Sr. Larry Ogunjobi added a season-high 8 tackles and 1 tackle for loss.

With his 12 tackles, Cook surpassed 100 takedowns in his 14-game career to become the fastest 49er to reach the milestone.

“That’s not something I even think about,” Cook said.  “Whatever my stats were, I made plenty of mistakes tonight, too.  It takes all 11 guys on the field.”

As for mistakes, those were chief on Lambert’s mind as the game concluded.

“We have a lot of things we need to correct,” he said.

Charlotte closes out its non-conference season next week at Temple in a 12 noon game that will be televised by ASN, locally on WCCB Charlotte.

Other scores

Catawba 40 Carson-Newman 20

Wingate 56 Shaw 7

Wofford 59 Johnson C. Smith 0

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