Charlotte Falls To App State In Season Opener

BOONE, N.C. (CHARLOTTE) — The Charlotte 49ers fell in their season opener at 20th-ranked Appalachian State, 35-20, despite strong debuts from linebacker Tyler Murray and running back Tre Harbison III along with a school-record 97-yard kickoff return from redshirt senior Aaron McAllister.

“Frustrated,” said 49ers head coach Will Healy. “They got after us running the football.  They created some turnovers. To be honest we stayed in it on special teams.  We gave ourselves a shot on special teams. To beat a team like App you have to play better on both sides of the ball.”

McAllister’s 97-yard kickoff return brought the 49ers within one, 21-20, with 1:35 left in the third. After a Mountaineer TD to start the fourth, Murray forced a fumble on the Mountaineers 20-yard line with Charlotte down 28-20 with 6:24 to play. Charlotte was unable to score, however, ultimately turning it over on downs with 5:03 to play.

App State (1-0) drove for a touchdown in the final two minutes to ice the win.

“It was a hard-fought football game,” Healy added. “We had a couple opportunities in the redzone and kicked field goals instead of scoring touchdowns. That was a big deal. You have to score touchdowns against great teams. I’m proud of our guys and excited about where our team is but today App was definitely the better football team.”

App State put up 512 yards of total offense compared to 286 for the 49ers.  The Mountaineers had 308 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns. Marcus Williams Jr. (117) and Camerun Peoples (102) both had 100-yard rushing games for App State. Charlotte had 146 rushing yards and 140 passing yards.

Despite the statistical advantage, Charlotte never trailed by more than one score until the Mountaineers final TD in the final two minutes. Charlotte took an early 7-0 lead, but the Mountaineers grabbed a 14-10 lead by halftime. Jonathan Cruz’s 49-yard field goal in the wet conditions brought the 49ers within one, 14-13. The two teams then traded touchdowns before App iced it, late.

Linebacker Tyler Murray, a transfer from Troy, had a fumble recovery, a forced fumble and an interception to go along with 14 tackles in his debut.

Running back Tre Harbison III rushed for a team-high 87 yards and a touchdown in his debut with the 49ers. Harbison is a transfer from Northern Illinois, where he posted back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons.

Aaron McAllister notched a school-record 97-yard kickoff return – the 49ers first kickoff return for a TD since 2015. Damon Weldon, Jr. blocked a 34-yard field goal attempt to end the first half and Jonathan Cruz kicked a 49-yard field goal to make it a one-point game, 14-13 late in the third quarter.