Call this one the Durell Robinson game.
Saturday night at Jerry Richardson Stadium in Charlotte, everybody was watching new 49ers football coach Biff Poggi, who had brought some national headlines to the school with his sleeveless tops, his cigars and his bravado.
But once the game started, it was hard to take your eyes off of Robinson, the 49ers’ electric freshman running back who didn’t start, but who certainly changed Charlotte’s 24-3 win over South Carolina State.
Early on, the 49ers offense got some groans from a standing-room only crowd by managing just 15 yards total offense on their first two possessions.
On Charlotte’s third, however, Poggi put in Robinson, whom 247 Sports ranked as a three-star recruit coming out of Maryland’s St. Francis High School. Robinson had SEC and Big 10 offers coming out of high school, but chose Charlotte, where he would play for Poggi, who once built St. Francis into a national high school power.
Robinson announced his decision at the Under Armour Next All-America Game on ESPN in January. Charlotte usually doesn’t get recruits like that.
And when he got in Saturday, Robinson nearly broke two touchdown runs. He just looked different than the other players on the field. At 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, Robinson showed off length, quickness and speed. He also seemed to give a needed jolt to a team made up of around 70 new players who were just looking for an identity.
With Robinson, the 49ers seemed to find one.
After he came in, Charlotte scored 17 straight first half points and turned this into the easy win many were expecting. Robinson finished the half with eight carries for 71 yards and a touchdown.
▪ For Charlotte, Robinson finished with 11 carries for 71 yards and a touchdown. QB Jalon Jones was 13-of-19 with two interceptions for 125 yards and a score. He rushed 10 times for 163 yards and a score.
▪ Former Mooresville HIgh star Jawarn Howell had a team-high 13 carries for 38 yards for SC State. Kacey Fields led the Bulldogs with 45 yards on nine carries.
▪ Redshirt Charlotte 49ers senior Wayne Jones, a Kansas State transfer, led the team with 10 tackles on defense.
▪ Official attendance was listed at 15,622. That was the most for a 49ers home game since November 6, 2021 against Rice (16,050).
▪ Charlotte had 338 yards total offense compared to 168 for SC State. That included a 213-109 rushing yards average.
▪ The 49ers defense didn’t allow a first quarter point for its third straight game dating to the 2022 season.
Charlotte will play at Maryland Saturday, Sept. 9 at 7:30 p.m. on a nationally televised game with Maryland on NBC.