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2021 Charlotte game page

UNCC 31, Rice 24 (OT)

Naeem Smith appears up to top form as he had a big game against CLT (David Speed Elder photo)

HOUSTON (Nov. 6) – Fellow nerds,before we go into the sordid details of this excruciating and miserable loss, please take a quick look at the chart below. See the dark blue line rise so near the 100 per cent probability line that it bespeaks certainty. Then see where the line goes from there.

Rather, it fell to the Owls to play fully up to their capability for 55 minutes, only to collapse once retreating into their "play not to lose" shells for the remaing ticks of the clock, a highly disappointing wrinkle which wound up delivering the same old results.

So let’s see. First, the prescription involved conbining a realitively spunky defense with an asleep-at the wheel offense. Well, not so spuncky as to prevent Charlotte from taking a 7-0 lead at the 4:37 mark of the first quarter. Previously, the Owls had driven 50 yards mixing the pass and run before running out of gas at the UNCC 17, at which time the Owl kicker missed a 35-yard field goal.

And the offense seemed sluggish until it woke up right at the cusp of the second quarter. In a display of run-pass-mix hardly seen thus far this season, Jake Constantine hit key tosses to Jake Bailey and Cedric Patterson III which set up the Owls at the UNCC 22. On first, down, Ari Broussard got strong line play, enablin him to burst into the secondary and sprint in for the touchdown from 22 yards out. Owls 7, 49ers 7. We had life.

Unfortunately, Charlotte came roaring right back with a 74-yard, 11 play drive that spotted Charlotte a 14-7 lead which carried into the halftime clubhouse. Nevertheless, this drive was the last of any significant 49er heroics until the benighted, last minute comeback to take the game to overtime.

The Owls played to form by going three-and-out having received the second-half kickoff – but it was there when the offense came alive and the defense bucked up. The first 24 minutes of play in the second half looks to have demonstrated as successful a skein of football playing that a Mike Bloomgren-coached team has yet shown.

First, the Owl road graders did their thing, with key tackles by Kenneth Orji and Antonio Montero. But on second and nine at the CLT 45, their Shadrick Bird broke loose down the sidelne for 44 yards to the Ric e11.There, though, he was separated from the ball by Alex Montero, who had the presence of mine to return the pill out to the Rice 34, a decent spot to start a drive.

And drive the Flock did, mixing one successful run after the other by Ari Broussard, with several pin-point pass receptions. With goal to go, though, Jake’s passes toward Monsieur August and Sir Cedric were broken up , and the Owls had to settle for a (hold your breath) 25-yard Christian Van Sickle field goal.

But that drive appear ed to ignite the Owls on both sides of the ball. After the defense three-and-outed the opposition, setting up the Flock with decent field position at their 37, Ari Broussard busted out for a broken-field 40 -yard run that put the Owls in business.

Jake Constantine hit Jake Bailey for 18 more to the eight, and three plays later the reliable Jordan Myers carried it over from the one, andthe Owls had their first lead of the evening, 17-14.

Then it was the defense’s turn to shine, Desmyn Baker and Elijah Garcia getting a five yard sack of UNCC QBChris Reynolds, thereafter Milea McCord and Kirk Lockhart shutting down the third-down passing attempt short of the chains.

Sean Fresch took the fair catch of the punt at the Owl 16, and thus commenced a nine-minute-consuming Long March that by all rights should have put the game into the hands of the Owls.

A number of Institute Boys got their hands on the bal to advance the time-consuming drive. Jake Bailey had a key catch for 18, and then Patterson connected for eight more. Broussard and Jordan Myers then proceed to smash-mouth the ball slowly downfield.

When Ari Broussard pushed the ball over the lip of the cup with 6:35 in the game, the Owls had themselves a 24-14 lead and no small number of Charlotte fans began to adjourn to their tailgates.

On its next possession, Charlotte did come back to nail a 35-yard field goal to narrow the gap to 24-17, Owls, with just over four minutes to play.

It was then that the Owls went into their coaches’ pill-bug strategy, trying mightily to avoid turnovers and run out the clock.

Turns out they did neither.

But the saddest part was when the Owls’ pass defense appeared to stymie the Charlotte offensive attack on their next possession as the clock ticked down. Josh Pearcy and Jordan Dunbar made big defensive plays to bring the 49ers to a 4th and 10 with just over four minutes to play. The UNCC's quartback's desperationg pass was batted away.  Seemed the Owls had themselves the ball at the Charlotte 36, with under four minutes left on the block.

Looks like this one belongs to the Owls, right?

"However," the voice of J. Fred rings out. An unnamed Owls defensive linemen was said to have lined up in the neutral zone on the fourth-down play (astute Owl fan observers said he didn’t), and the fourth and 10 became a fourth and five and the 49ers went for it, Reynolds completing a pass to his receiver Pearson for five yards, and we mean five yards, barely, to keep the drive alive.

UNCC went on to tie the score at 24 with 1:22 to play, and off we went into overtime.

We won’t bother with the overtime play-by-play, other than to say there wasn’t any. Check elswhere for details.

“Some of the games we may be a favorite, some of the games we may be an underdog, but it doesn’t really matter,” Bloomgren said of the last three games now facing his 3-6, which could just so easily now be 5-4 and in line for a halfway decent bowl game. “ It’s going to come down to how we play and how we finish. But we’re good enough. We’re going to be good enough to win these games. Now when we get to that deep water that we talk about and work for, now we’ve got to finish.”

Ah yes, deep water. We seem to founder -- or is it 'flounder' -- there.