CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Despite putting up 530 yards of total offense, the fourth-ranked Wesley College football team dropped its regular season finale to Division I FCS Charlotte, 38-33, in front of 10,704 fans at Jerry Richard Stadium. The Wolverines are now 9-1 on the season and will await their NCAA Playoff fate which will be determined at 6 pm on Sunday, November 16 on NCAA.com.
Wesley has advanced to nine-straight NCAA Playoffs and ten overall with five trips to the NCAA Semifinals and three more appearances in the NCAA Quarterfinals.
Joe Callahan ran for a touchdown from 1-yard out to cut the 49ers (4-6) lead to five points with 1:11 remaining but the two-point conversion was unsuccessful. Wesley's onside kick was also unsuccessful, giving Charlotte the ball at the Wolverines' 47-yardline. The 49ers took the ball down to the 30-yardline and on fourth-and-three, quarterback Lee McNeill rushed for four yards to seal the win for the 49ers.
Callahan threw for 356 yards (32-of-55) and two touchdowns and also ran 12 times for 47 yards and two more scores. Callahan also was picked off twice, which matches his total coming into the game, and his 55 attempts ties Jason Visconti's school-record for a single game which was done against Rowan in 2001.
Jamar Baynard also had a career-day yardage wise, gaining 92 yards on 19 carries on the ground while also catching five passes for a team-high 97 yards and a score for 189 all-purpose yards. Bryce Shade was Callahan's most frequent target through the air with a career-high nine catches for 59 yards and a touchdown. Steve Koudossou also hauled in six passes for 80 yards.
Wesley was able to force three Charlotte fumbles but had trouble with bruising running back Kalif Phillips who ran for 173 yards and three touchdowns on 36 carries. Lee McNeill was also efficient through the air, completing 21-of-30 passes for 259 yards and three scores. Austin Duke led the 49ers with 92 yards on six catches while Trent Bostick and TL Ford both found the endzone on McNeill targets.
The contest between in the Inter-Division I rivals got off to a lightning fast start with three touchdowns in the first five minutes and 49 seconds. Charlotte got the scoring started with a 67-yard drive that culminated with a Phillips 4-yard touchdown run but Baynard caught a pass from Callahan and ran 66 yards for a score less than two minutes later.
Aamir Petrose then sacked McNeill and forced a fumble which was recovered by Roderick Caine, giving Wesley great field position at the 49ers 30-yardline. After a 12-yard speed sweep and a unsportsmanlike penalty on Charlotte, Callahan hit Shade from nine yards out giving Wesley a 14-7 lead with 9:11 in the first quarter.
The 49ers tied the score later in the quarter on a ten-yard run by Phillips but Callahan fueled a ten play, 80 yard drive that lasted four-and-a-half minutes to give Wesley its final lead of the game. Baynard started the drive with a 45-yard run on the first play before Callahan gained 17 and nine yards on back-to-back carries to get inside the Charlotte 5-yardline before the end of the quarter. After gaining a yard on each play, Callahan finally found the endzone from two yards out on fourth and goal.
Once again, however, the 49ers were able to respond with another touchdown run by Phillips and after forcing a punt, marched down the field for another score to take a 28-21 lead. Wesley then turned the ball over on downs but Caine then stripped McNeil on a sack and gave Wesley back the ball with good field position and Eric Speidel hit a 32-yard field goal to send the Wolverines into the locker room trailing just 28-24.
The second half was much more defensive as the teams traded field goals in the third quarter but an early touchdown from McNeill to Ford with 12 minutes left in the game gave Charlotte a 38-27 lead.
Jordan Wescott led Wesley with 12 tackles along with a sack while Julian Jones, Derrick Bender and Sosthene Kapepula all had eight stops apiece. Two of Jones' stops went for a loss while Bender forced a fumble and Kapepula recovered another.
Caine was also all over the field with seven tackles with 1.5 TFLs, a forced fumble and a recovery while Petrose had a team-high 2.5 tackles for loss.
Three 49ers had over ten tackles led by Dustin Crouser with 15, followed by 12 by Karrington King and ten by Branden Dozier.