Another Friday, another college football game altered by COVID-19 pandemic

By Richard Walker

Gardner-Webb’s expected 2020 football season-opener has become another casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

And for the fifth time in this craziest of football seasons, the Charlotte 49ers also have prepared for game that was eventually postponed and/or cancelled.

Charlotte 49ers officials announced at 2:40 p.m. Friday that the scheduled noon Saturday non-conference home against Gardner-Webb was being cancelled due to “COVID positive tests and contact tracing within the Bulldogs’ program.”

Said 49ers athletic director Mike Hill is a school news release: “I really hate this for both teams, but as we look at the national landscape, these cancellations are becoming more and more common. Every time we actually play a game, it’s a victory no matter the score. Our resilience is being tested, but we will continue to fight the good fight because our players deserve nothing less.”

Charlotte’s next game is slated for Nov. 21 at 12:30 p.m. at Marshall in a Conference USA East Division game.

The 49ers have previously had to postpone or cancel scheduled games with North Carolina, Georgia State, Florida International and Middle Tennessee. Only the Florida International game – now slated for Dec. 5 at home – has been rescheduled though Conference USA officials are expected to reschedule the Middle Tennessee game.

Entering Friday, 60 college football games have been postponed or cancelled due to COVID-19 issues this season.

Said first-year Gardner-Webb coach Tre Lamb in a school news release: “I, the team and our staff are at a loss for words with the cancellation. Safety and everyone’s health is extremely important, and our team has done a terrific job of creating and protecting our bubble and abiding by all of the protocols and steps necessary to remain safe. We had only three positives out of 380 total tests, but contact tracing knocked out eight of our 12 offensive linemen. Everyone in the program had worked very hard and were really looking forward to finally playing a game. To lose a game the day before is really hard on all of us. I don’t understand the contact tracing aspect. It’s tough. We will continue to work toward playing a Big South schedule in the spring. I am confident our young men will do all they can and will work exceptionally hard to put their best foot forward when we get the chance to play.”

Gardner-Webb doesn’t have any other games scheduled. Lamb said earlier this week his school had tried to schedule up to four games but was prepared to play Charlotte then get ready for the 2021 Big South Conference spring football season that is now slated to begin on March 20.

Gardner-Webb and Charlotte are slated to play in the fall of 2021 at Charlotte.