UMass falls to 0-3 after lopsided loss to Charlotte

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CHARLOTTE — A year after UMass blitzed Charlotte at McGuirk Alumni Stadium with an early scoring outburst, Charlotte did the same to the Minutemen Saturday night at Jerry Richardson Stadium.

The 49ers scored the game's first 28 points on its way to a 52-17 victory in front of 12,812 fans.

"We've got to be able to get off the field and stop the run," first-year UMass coach Walt Bell said. "That's the name of the game: Run the football and stop the run. No matter what you do on offense — spread, play fast — can you run the football and can you stop the run? And we didn't do either of those things."

To Bell's point, Charlotte rolled up 338 yards rushing with three touchdowns while Massachusetts picked up 135 yards and no scores.

Charlotte's offense, along with a defensive score, made quick work of the Minutemen (0-3) as the 49ers improved to 2-1.

"It definitely was a result we didn't want," UMass sophomore defensive back Tyris Lebeau said. "We made a lot of mistakes and had a lot of missed tackles, which gave them the opportunity for big runs and big plays.

"Our goal for next week is to really work on tackling, holding the running back down and making plays."

Benny LeMay (16 carries for 113 yards), Aaron McAllister (seven carries for 94 yards and one touchdown) and Ishod Finger (11 carries for 71 yards and two touchdowns) led the 49ers running game and Chris Reynolds completed 10 of 12 throws for 155 yards and two more touchdowns.

Charlotte outgained the Minuteman 533 to 262.

But Bell found some positives in his team after Charlotte's early scoring burst had the 49ers ahead 28-0 with 13:57 left in the first half.

"I thought in terms of our effort from last week to this week it was better," Bell said. "I thought our kids were a lot more positive. And there was plenty of negative in that ballgame and chances for those kids to not be that way."

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Junior quarterback Andrew Brito was one example of what Bell was talking about. Brito started the game for UMass after Bell had chosen Randall West to start the first two games of the season.

After failing to lead the Minutemen to scores on their first three possessions — including an interception return for a Charlotte touchdown on one of them — Brito directed back-to-back scoring drives.

He finished with 18 completions in 27 attempts for 127 yards and a 3-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Johnson, Jr.

"There were some really good things," Bell said of Brito. "Obviously, a really young, inexperienced football player. So, for him, every rep is a learning rep for him. Hopefully, all of those reps will help him in the future."

Cam Roberson (10 carries for 73 yards) and Bilal Ally (14 carries for 59 yards) led the Minutemen running game and senior cornerback Isaiah Rodgers returned a punt 42 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown.

"I thought the other 10 guys did an unbelievable job continuing to fight in the face of some really tough adversity," Bell said of the blockers on Rodgers' TD punt return.

Lebeau and junior linebacker Cole McCubrey had eight tackles apiece to lead the Massachusetts defense.

The Minuteman had taken a 28-0 lead in the first quarter last year against Charlotte early in the season before taking a 48-31 victory.

Massachusetts now prepares for back-to-back home games next Saturday against Coastal Carolina at 1 p.m. and Sept. 28 against Akron at 3:30.

"Home, away, gravel, parking lot... we really don't care right now," Bell said of the upcoming schedule. "I'm excited for tomorrow. I'm excited to get back to work. I'm excited for Tuesday's practice.

"We're a really young football team. We played a bunch of freshman and young guys and played a bunch of walk-ons. We've got to get them better every day."


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