By Hunter Bailey. September 22, 2018. AMHERST, MA — Stats don’t lie — but sometimes they don’t tell the truth.
A blazing fast start by FBS independent UMass decided Saturday’s game in hosting Charlotte of Conference USA. The Minutemen scored 28 points in the first six minutes of play, ultimately defeating the 49ers, 49-31. The Niners fall to (2-2) and the Minutemen inch closer to .500 at (2-3).
The Minutemen wasted no time, taking the opening kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown. Charlotte had no answer except a bad one: botching a punt. On the very next play, UMass quarterback Michael Curtis threw the first of his two TD aerials on the night, finding Andy Isabella with a 15-yard strike. The ambush continued with UMass forcing yet another turnover, a strip sack of Charlotte QB Chris Reynolds that set up another quick touchdown for the home team.
The first quarter was all UMass, with Charlotte posting only four yards of total offense and two turnovers. Charlotte later got the offense rolling, but ultimately this game was decided in the first quarter.
Charlotte running back Benny LeMay got the visitors on the board with four minutes remaining before intermission on a 1-yard TD run. Albeit in a losing effort, the 49ers’ redshirt freshman quarterback Chris Reynolds arguably played the best game of his young college career, throwing 23-34 for 283 yards and three TDs. Victor Tucker also had a career day, with eight catches for 130 yards.
Charlotte won every major statistical category, but still lost by 18 points.
UMass QB Michael Curtis was the player of the game scoring four touchdowns on the day – throwing 12-19 for 189 yards and two TDs and rushing for 35 yards and two TDs.
The UMass Minutemen head to Ohio University in Athens to take on the 1-2 Bobcats, who have beaten FCS contender Howard (38-32) and lost to FBS stalwarts Virginia (31-45) and Cincinnati (30-34).
Charlotte travels to Birmingham, Alabama where the 49ers will face 2-1 UAB, winners over Savannah State (52-0) and Tulane (31-24), their lone loss coming to the hands of Coastal Carolina (24-47).
FACTOID: Charlotte went 1-11 last season, with their lone win coming in overtime against UAB, 25-24.