By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports
FORT MYERS — The second half between Charlotte and Dunbar Saturday night became the Keanu Young show.
The Tigers gave the ball to Young often, and the senior running back put the team on his back.
Young rushed for 239 yards — 202 in the final 24 minutes — and scored two touchdowns to help Dunbar down Charlotte 33-14 in the season-opener for both teams. The loss snapped Charlotte’s 22-game regular-season winning streak as Young outgained Charlotte’s entire offense by 92 yards.
The Tarpons’ only chance to take the lead came in the third quarter trailing 13-7. Quarterback Alex Muse and company faced fourth-and-goal at the 1-yard line, but after a false start pushed the ball back five yards, Muse couldn’t find the end zone on a keeper. The junior, making his first career start, was stopped two yards short.
Charlotte’s only scores came on an interception and fumble recovery for touchdowns, both by Jayden Grant. The defense held strong in the first half as Charlotte went into the locker room tied 7-7, but Young just wore the Tarpons down in the second half.
“We were on the field all night,” Charlotte coach Binky Waldrop said. “We played a great game and a super first half. At the end of the third quarter we were inside the five, and if we score or kick a field goal we’re up one and it’s a whole different story.
“We didn’t get those points down there and it just seemed to be a little bit of a letdown. We’re a young team and we have to grow up.”
Muse struggled terribly in his first start at quarterback, failing to complete a pass on a 0-for-12 night that included two interceptions. Anthony Squitieri, who went 2-for-5 for 18 yards, eventually replaced him in the fourth quarter.
“It wasn’t all him,” Waldrop said of Muse. “He made a couple of mistakes. We had a fumble, we jumped offside down by the goal line so everybody could’ve done things to make a little bit of a difference tonight so I’ll watch the film.
“(Muse) made a couple of bad mistakes tonight of throwing the ball back across the field. We’ve got to keep him from doing that.”
Young opened the second half with runs of 26, 27 and 10 yards before scoring a 9-yard touchdown to put Dunbar ahead 13-7. After Zacharie Georges connected with Tennessee commit Shocky Jacques-Louis for a 33-yard score on a 3rd-and-29 play to extend the lead to 12 with 36 seconds left in the third quarter, Young scored again in the fourth on a 15-yard scamper to put the Tigers up 26-7.
Jacques-Louis was Dunbar’s leading receiver with five catches for 83 yards. Georges was 10 of 20 for 144 yards, including a nice 32-yard touchdown to Deven Thompkins in double coverage for the first score of the game.
“We were over-running. We got tired, we weren’t tackling and that’s really it,” Waldrop said. “Emotionally, the fourth quarter was a letdown. I guess that’s part of being young. We’ve just got to keep working hard.
“We played against a team tonight that’s going to win a lot of football games this year. I’m proud of my guys. We played hard, we’ve just got to play smarter at times.”
DUNBAR 33, CHARLOTTE 14
Charlotte 0 7 0 7 — 14
Dunbar 7 0 12 14 — 33
First Downs 8 20
Rushes/yds 39/129 40/312
Passing yds 18 144
C-A-I 2-17-1 10-20-1
Fumbles/lost 2/1 2/2
Penalties/yds 3/25 9/76
DB — Deven Thompkins 32 pass from Zacharie Georges (Xavier McDonald kick), 4:32
CH — Jayden Grant 49 interception return (Kenny Scribner), 8:46
DB — Young 9 run (kick failed), 10:41
DB — Jacques-Louis 33 pass from Georges (kick blocked), 0:36
DB — Young 15 run (McDonald kick), 10:53
DB — Young 48 run (McDonald kick, 7:37
CH — Grant 43 fumble return (Scribner kick), 2:15
Rushing: Charlotte: Savorion Warren 15-67, Andrew Grace 6-32, Ny Harvey 8-20, Alex Muse 9-11. Dunbar: Keanu Young 19-239-3, Brandon Benjamin 8-44, Seneca Milledge 6-30, Zacharie Georges 4-6, Deven Thompkins 1-3, Jadarius McKnight 1- -5, Duane Simon 1- -5.
Passing: Charlotte: Anthony Squitieri 2-5-18-0-0, Muse 0-12-0-1. Dunbar: Georges 10-20-144-2-1.
Receiving: Charlotte: Isaiah Dareus 1-15, Warren 1-3. Dunbar: Shocky Jacques-Louis 5-83-1, Thompkins 2-42-1, Major Williams 1-10, Young 2-5.