Florida Atlantic (3-3; 1-1 C-USA) at Charlotte (4-2; 2-0 C-USA)
October 21st, 2021, 7:30 PM ET
Jerry Richardson Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina
Weather – Mostly Cloudy, Intermittent Light Rain, 75 degrees
Florida Atlantic 38 – Charlotte 9
Charlotte was undefeated in Conference USA play and playing at home so I gave them the edge in this one.
For the second time in three games I attended, the first half of this game was sloppy. Charlotte missed a field goal on their first possession only to get the ball right back on a Florida Atlantic fumble. Charlotte took advantage by making their next field goal attempt to lead 3-0 after the first quarter.
The second quarter had a little more scoring as the Owls scored a touchdown on their second possession on a 12 play drive down the field. Charlotte was able to bounce back on the last possession of the half scoring a touchdown to take a 9-7 lead into the half after a missed extra point. It looked like we were in store for an exciting game.
Unfortunately, the 49ers decided not to show up for the second half. Florida Atlantic just came full throttle and dominated the second half from start to finish. Quarterback N’kosi Perry, a Miami transfer, attempted only 11 passes but ended up with 225 yards and 3 touchdowns. On the flip side they shut down the Charlotte offense finishing with under 100 yards in the second half. Florida Atlantic scored the last 31 points of the game to make it a blowout.
Final score: Florida Atlantic 38-Charlotte 9.
Charlotte is one of the newer schools at the FBS level. Jerry Richardson Stadium is a small stadium but a pretty one. It is set up as a single tier horseshoe with a large field house taking up the south end zone. A large video board rose up above the field house. There were also two small scoreboards on the base wall of the north end zone as well.
Thursday night games are always interesting. It’s hard to judge the true atmosphere outside the game because it’s always different than a Saturday matchup. There was very little tailgating going on around the stadium. Though, the main campus is a couple blocks away from the stadium so more could have been going on there that I missed out on. Come game time the stadium was about 60 percent full, though the students came out in force as they have in every game I’ve attended so far this year.
There were a decent number of concessions available around the stadium. On top of the normal stadium items, they had Domino’s Pizza, Dippin’ Dots, and a booth that served funnel cake fries topped with chocolate syrup and powdered sugar.
A couple small items that bothered me were around the audio/video aspects at the stadium. First, the music was way too loud. They had it blaring. I understand music should be loud in this type of atmosphere but it was too much here. The second bigger nitpick was the delay in the video stream. There was a 2-3 second delay between the play on the field and the stream on the video board. That means if you couldn’t see a play, you couldn’t react in real time based on the play being shown on the screen.
Hot dog – $5.00
Souvenir drink – $5.50
16 Ounce Beer – $7.00
Other Sporting Event
Men’s Soccer – #3 Marshall (10-1-3) vs. Charlotte (8-5)
All the other sporting games I have attended to this point have been women’s sports. I didn’t realize that until I was actually on this trip. So, it was fun to be able to attend my first men’s soccer game. On top of that, the team that came into town was the defending national champions and third ranked Marshall Thundering Herd.
There were a couple things I noticed before the game even started. First, the soccer stadium, like most buildings on the Charlotte campus, looked quite new. Second, the atmosphere was pretty festive for this game. The Charlotte drummers played outside the stadium before the game and then came inside and played during the game as well. There were over a thousand people at the game including many Marshall fans.
The game ended up being quite exciting. Marshall dominated the early part of the game scoring a goal in the 25th minute to take the early lead. Charlotte came right back though scoring in the aftermath of a corner kick in the 27th minute to tie things up. This is how the score went into the half.
In the second half, Vinicius Fernandes of Marshall picked up a red card leading to a one-man advantage for Charlotte. They were unable to take advantage of this scenario though. There were a couple close calls but no scoring occurred in the second half leading us to overtime.
In overtime, Kameron Lacey of Charlotte got a red card of his own, evening things back up. Marshall quickly took advantage scoring the winning goal less than one minute later to win the game.
Marshall 2 – Charlotte 1; OT
The first thing you notice on the Charlotte campus is how new everything is. Whether that is good thing or bad thing comes down to a matter of perspective. On one hand, all the buildings look great and bring a consistent look to the campus. On the other hand, it misses some of that charm that older buildings sometimes bring to a campus.
The main things that stood out from my tour were the dome on top of the Health and Human Service building as well as the statue of the gold miner near the student union. They also had a very large botanical garden on the east side of campus that was interesting to walk through.
Overall, it was a very pretty campus, but felt like it was missing some of the charm that a lot of college campuses bring.
There are two Mint Museum locations located in Charlotte. The museum gets its name because the original location was actually a U.S. mint for a short period in the early 1800’s, shutting down around the start of the Civil War. It never reopened after that time.
The first floor of the museum shows the history of the building, starting with the mint, then as a medical facility during the war, up until how the building was saved from almost being taken down at one point.
The second floor is where the majority of the items were on display. Each section takes you through a different part of the world. It starts off with artifacts from South America and Latin America. This is followed by Native American artifacts, African artifacts, and then European artifacts. One of the more interesting sections were the paintings and other items dedicated to Queen Charlotte, of which the city of Charlotte got its name.
Another perk of visiting this museum is if you purchase a ticket to one location your ticket can be used the following day at the second location. I did not take advantage of that offer since I had a lot of other events planned, but if I lived in the area, I would definitely check out both places.
NASCAR Hall of Fame
I am not a NASCAR fan, but am aware of some of the big events and some of the history of the sport. So, I was interested in seeing some former race cars. The NASCAR hall of fame was very well put together and takes you through the history of the sport, and a lot of its most famous racecars and drivers.
The hall of fame is divided among four floors. The first floor features a tribute to the first 50 members of the hall and a look at 18 of the most famous race cars along Glory Road. As you head up to the second floor you have the tribute to the current year’s hall of fame inductees.
The third floor brought in many exhibits that were interactive. A lot of these interactions I had no interest in trying out, but could see how a big NASCAR fan would really enjoy them. For example, you had the opportunity to do race simulations around different tracks. There was also the opportunity to be a part of a pit crew. Of course, most of these interactions had an additional cost.
Finally, the fourth floor had a lot of other artifacts such as programs and trophies from throughout the years. You could also see how the race cars changed through the years from a safety and technology perspective.
Levine Museum of the New South
When you bring up South culture many things probably immediately come to mind. The Levine Museum of the New South tries to show how the area is trying to move past that while not ignoring it’s past, both the positives and negatives of it.
After showing a short intro video, you are taken back to the beginning of the area and walk through the history. They focus on its early start in cotton and its importance to the area. They follow up by showing how the downtown area grew and the brand stores that came out of the area such as Belk’s.
They then had an area focused on the civil rights era. Specifically, a large focus was placed on the sit-ins that college students did at diners across the city and the influence they had. Upstairs they had a couple smaller, rotating exhibits that focused on a small area of town, called Brooklyn, that eventually fell to gentrification near downtown Charlotte.
I really enjoyed the visit here. I did not know what to expect, but thought the main exhibit was very well put together and that did a good job acknowledging their history while not brushing off the negative side of it.
Billy Graham Library
I have always considered Billy Graham one of the true evangelists of my time. It is obvious that some of the people doing evangelism on tv today are not in it for true evangelism, but I never got that feeling from Billy Graham. Being born in Charlotte, the Billy Graham Library is set up as a way to share his story and I decided to check it out on my trip.
Let me start off by stating I fully expected there to be some places where they would have the ‘Coming to Jesus’ discussions. I do think they pushed that a little too much though. During the tour they basically just took small groups of people and took them along room by room individually. I would have preferred the opportunity just to explore everything on my own without being bombarded by people along the way.
In the areas where you did have a little more freedom to walk around, I did enjoy the displays. You got to learn a lot about his childhood, how he started his ministry, and about his meetings with leaders from around the world.
Carolina Raptor Center
The Carolina Raptor Center is located in the Latta Nature Preserve and displays 25 various birds in a small walking trail through the area. All of the birds were either orphaned or had an injury that would not allow them to survive on their own in the wild.
I enjoyed being able to see all the different types of ravens, owls, hawks, vultures, and eagles they had. My favorite had to be the lesser yellow-headed vulture. While I was viewing, it decided to spread its wings out full and just show off. It was impressive to see it’s full wing span on display like that. I’m not sure I have ever seen a bird just walk around with its wings fully open before.
The Latta Nature Preserve is working on creating new experiences in the area and one of those experiences is upgrading the raptor center. I believe the center will be integrated more into the overall nature center within a couple years, so it will be interesting to see how that impacts the experience once that occurs.
U.S. National Whitewater Center
I was very intrigued to visit the U.S. National Whitewater Center on my trip. It is a location that has a lot of various outdoor activities that you can take part in. Apart from a whitewater course, they had kayaking, high ropes courses, climbing walls, and a lot of biking and hiking trails. I decided to go and get some hiking in and maybe check out some people taking on the rapids.
To my huge disappointment the whitewater areas were closed on the day I visited. I’m not sure if they were closed for the winter or just the day I happened to be visiting but that took away a lot of potential excitement.
I still took in quite a few of the trails around the facility to get some exercise in. The zip lines seemed to be a popular activity for the day as there were many people going down it throughout my time there. They also had a restaurant on the premises that seemed really popular with the locals. If I had the chance to go back while people were rafting, I would definitely check it out again.
Anne Springs Close Greenway – Fort Hill, SC
One of my other personal goals is to visit every state in the US. Although I will eventually go to some stadiums in South Carolina, I decided to take advantage of being so close to the boarder and head to the Anne Springs Close Greenway just across the border near Fort Hill. This nature area is a very large habitat that presented a lot of opportunities for hiking.
The temperature was perfect on the morning of the hike so I went along my way through some wooded areas, across a suspension bridge, and exploring some areas where they had some horses out in the field. That enjoyment changed quickly when a downburst of rain came in causing me to run for cover.
Luckily, there was a small cabin nearby where I could take cover underneath the porch and enjoy a rocking chair. On top of that, the cabin I took cover under was actually originally built by Billy Graham’s grandfather which was a nice random fact to always have about my trip.
The rain only lasted about 10-15 minutes and then moved on and the sun came out shortly after. This led to some more great hiking around a small lake that was on the premises as well.
I came across Little Mama’s at the last second when I realized I needed to find one more restaurant for my time in Charlotte. After realizing I had not picked any Italian locations for my trip, I came across this little place and decided to give a try.
There are two things the restaurant touted as must tries. The first were fresh mozzarella appetizers where they would bring out a huge chunk of fresh, made in house mozzarella with various items you could place it on to eat it. The second were several pastas that were made fresh in house as well. Since I definitely couldn’t eat the mozzarella by myself, I decided to try one of the pastas with the radiatore pasta.
You could tell the pasta was fresh by the taste. The texture was a little tougher than I expected, but that was mainly from the shape of the pasta I assume. It was served with a family recipe meat sauce. The sauce was very good and, in my opinion, saved the dish. I would definitely order the sauce again but would probably try a different pasta type if I returned.
Mert’s Heart and Soul
One of the main types of food you think about in the Southeast is Soul food, so I had to take in one of the popular Soul restaurants in downtown Charlotte, Mert’s Heart and Soul. It’s a destination restaurant that many celebrities, athletes, and even former Presidents have eaten at.
I wanted to try one of Mert’s specialties which was the salmon cakes. I had never heard of salmon cakes, but they are mixed with a combination of celery, onions, and peppers. What made these even better was the Remoulade sauce to put on top that added just enough flavor and kick to the entrée. On the side I went with yams and green beans to add to that homestyle feeling.
South 21 Drive In
The South 21 Drive In is an old-school style drive in that first opened back in 1955. The retro feel is what gave this place some charm. You ordered from your car and the food was brought out to you. The speaker system was a little outdated which made it hard to fully understand the staff, but it worked enough that I was able to get my order in. The food was brought out on cardboard trays so you could eat in your car which I thought was a nice touch.
Since this was a classic drive in, I went with a classic cheeseburger along with a cherry milkshake. There wasn’t anything fancy to the burger but it fit in perfectly with what you would expect from a place like this. The cherry milkshake was thick and had a strong cherry flavor which made it a huge win in my book.
Sweet Lew’s BBQ
North Carolina has their own brand of BBQ, but Sweet Lew’s BBQ in Charlotte was a more traditional BBQ restaurant a couple miles from downtown. The restaurant was located in a former gas station and a had a nice patio area where people could gather outside and the temperature was perfect for that on the day I visited.
I ordered the sliced brisket with sides of mac and cheese and potato salad. The brisket had good flavor and was cooked very well, though the outside char was a bit thicker than I like it was still tasty. The sides were very good and you could tell they were both homemade with a nice layer of cheese baked on top of the macaroni.
The most interesting thing both here and at the other BBQ restaurant in Lexington (hat will be discussed in the Wake Forest report) was the use of hush puppies instead of bread on the side. I had never seen hushpuppies outside of seafood restaurants, but it made a good side for the BBQ as well.
Amélie’s French Bakery & Café – Rock Hill, SC
I actually came across this small French café by accident in downtown Rock Hill, South Carolina. My original plan was to eat at a popular taco restaurant nearby only to discover it was closed on Mondays when I drove down.
This ended up being a good choice, as it was a neat place to visit. When you walked in there was a bakery area to the right. There were several people there with their laptops open doing work while enjoying their coffee. It definitely had a café vibe to it.
I went with the chicken, sun-dried tomato, and goat cheese sandwich. It also came with spinach and a pesto spread on a fresh baguette. I’m sometimes weary of sandwiches in places like this and the quality of them, but this one was delicious. The chicken was thick and juicy and the baguette was just the right texture.
And, of course, you can’t leave a French bakery without a dessert. They had a large variety of tarts, macaroons, and even crème brulee. I went with an éclair which is one of my favorite pastries and was not disappointed.