Uncertainty reigns as Charlotte 49ers prep for Friday’s nationally-televised game at Marshall

By Richard Walker

Most times, a college football team knows when its season starts and ends.

As the Charlotte 49ers football program knows better than most, 2020 has been anything but a typical season.

Former Shelby High standout Calvin Camp, shown returning a kickoff against Duke earlier this season, was lost for the season with a broken foot in Sunday’s 37-19 home loss to Western Kentucky

And as the 49ers prepare for Friday’s 6:30 p.m. game at Marshall, there’s no certainty about whether or not it will be the last game of the year.

For now, it’s at least the last scheduled game for Charlotte.

And since eight games have already been postponed or cancelled this season, that’s enough of an opportunity for the 49ers.

“I have no idea what the future holds,” Charlotte quarterback Chris Reynolds said during Tuesday’s zoom news conference. “That’s the moral of this season: We have to take everything day to day.”

Head coach Will Healy has given his team a similar message.

“i have no idea” if it’s our last game, Healy said. “And I’ve told our guys that. It’s crazy to think you’re playing for a bowl game at 2-4. But if we can win, who knows what can happen if we’re 3-2 in conference play.”

This much is known: A loss almost surely ends the 49ers season as the team’s record would drop to 2-5 overall and 2-3 in Conference USA.

Reynolds and Healy admitted that prospect is what has made Sunday’s disappointing 37-19 home loss to Western Kentucky difficult to deal with.

That’s even as the 49ers were snapping a 36-day layoff that was the longest for a college football team since 1938.

“It’s so easy to find a reason for why we played that way,” Reynolds said. “But everybody’s going through this. It’s about how you handle it. And we didn’t handle it well.”

Said Healy: “Watching the film was a long session beause there was some rust and lack of execution on our part.”

Marshall’s motiviation is simple: Beat Charlotte and the Thundering Herd improve to 8-1, 5-1 and advance to the Dec. 18 league title game.

“It’s a challenge and an opportunity,” Healy said of playing Marshall. “They’re a really good football team. And they had a misstep last week so they’re going to be hungry to get back out there.”

Marshall lost its hopes of an unbeaten season and its national ranking (No. 15 last week) in a 20-0 home loss to Rice last Saturday.

Reynolds is confident Charlotte will bring forth a solid effort against Marshall.

“This team has been through a lot of adversity and a lot of things have been thrown at us,” Reynolds said. “It’s how you respond when things aren’t going your way that says who you are.”


Friday’s game:

Charlotte (2-4, 2-2) at Marshall (7-1, 4-1)
When: 6:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network, Radio-ESPN 730 AM in Charlotte)
Where: Joan C. Edwards Stadium
Series: Marshall leads series 3-2

Extra points: Calvin Camp, a 2017 Shelby High graduate, broke a bone in his foot in Sunday’s 37-19 loss to Western Kentucky and was slated to have surgery later this week….
The last time these teams met a year ago in Charlotte, the 49ers rallied for a 24-13 victory that clinched the school’s first postseason bowl berth….
Marshall is in its second season with former 49ers head coach Brad Lambert as defensive coordinator. Lambert was Charlotte’s first coach and guided the program through its first six seasons. “Defensively, Brad Lambert is their coordinator and he does a fantastic job,” Healy said….
Healy said the Charlotte administration will allow all seniors on its roster the opportunity to return for 2021. Defensive end Tyriq Harris, a four-year starter and three-year captain, hasn’t made a decision but admitted Tuesday “it’s a wonderful opportunity” and said many seniors are discussing returning for the 2021 season.

Local connections: Tre Harbison (2016 Crest graduate) is the 49ers leading rusher with 337 yards and four touchdowns on 80 carries in six games (five starts). Cameron Dollar (East Lincoln 2018) has 10 catches for 178 yards and three touchdowns in six games (three starts). Calvin Camp (Shelby 2017) has 66 yards rushing and one touchdown, seven kickoff returns for 115 yards and has two tackles in six games. Gage Welborn (East Lincoln 2018) has played in three games. And Prince Bemah (Hunter Huss 2019) and D.J. Bagwell (Kings Mountain 2020) have yet to play in any games.

Next up: Charlotte could play again with a victory. If not, the next scheduled game is Sept. 4, 2021 at home against Duke.