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(Sunday, October 24th)
Final Score: Carolina 23, San Francisco 20
Charlotte, NC (Sports Network) - David Gettis hauled in a touchdown pass with 1:53 left before John Kasay kicked a 37-yard field goal with 39 seconds on the clock, lifting the Carolina Panthers to their first win of the season, 23-20 over the San Francisco 49ers.
Carolina got the ball back after Gettis' touchdown thanks to an interception by Richard Marshall. The cornerback picked off a pass from David Carr, who entered the game after 49ers quarterback Alex Smith suffered a sprained shoulder early in the third quarter.
Kasay's kick completed the improbable comeback for the Panthers (1-5), who had scored just two points in the fourth quarter all season.
Matt Moore passed for a career-high 308 yards and two scores -- both to Gettis -- on 28-of-41 passing, with one interception. Gettis ended with eight catches for 125 yards, while Brandon LaFell had six catches for 91 yards. Gettis and LaFell, both rookies, recorded career highs in receiving yards.
Carr completed just 5-of-13 passes for 67 yards, though Smith was just 9-of-19 for 129 yards and a score before suffering his injury. Frank Gore carried 19 times for 102 yards for San Francisco (1-6), which had won its first game of the season last week against Oakland.
"I really felt we were on track to go forward," said 49ers head coach Mike Singletary. "Came in here and they did a good job, they hung in there, they played tough. We just have to regroup."
San Francisco's Joe Nedney kicked a 38-yard field goal four seconds into the fourth quarter to create a 13-13 tie, and the Niners went in front on an interception return by defensive end Ray McDonald on the ensuing Carolina drive.
Moore scrambled to the right and intended to throw a short screen pass, but the ball went directly to McDonald, who began running up the left sideline. McDonald shake-and-baked Moore, who unsuccessfully tried for a shoestring tackle, before picking up a block and rumbling into the end zone. The 31-yard touchdown, which came with 12:52 remaining, gave San Francisco a 20-13 advantage.
Carolina then had to punt, but got the ball back after the 49ers went three- and-out by using Gore exclusively, even on 3rd-and-18. The Panthers threatened, and went for it on a 4th-and-9 from the San Francisco 16. But an open Gettis wasn't able to haul in Moore's pass in the end zone.
However, Gettis didn't miss a second chance. Another Niners punt set Carolina up at its own 37, and the Panthers drove downfield, facing a 3rd-and-2 from the 23. Gettis ran up the left sideline and turned at the last moment to catch Moore's pass in the end zone, tying the game.
"He's a stud," Moore said of Gettis. "I knew he felt bad. I could tell he was real bummed out...I know everybody went over to him and said the cliche thing, but it's so true, is you're going to get another shot. And he did and he made the best of it."
San Francisco still had an excellent chance to score, with 1:53 remaining and all three timeouts left. Carr even passed for 22 yards on the first play. But later in the drive, Carr's pass to Michael Crabtree wasn't close to being a completion, as Crabtree hadn't yet turned around and Marshall made the easy pickoff.
Carolina had 1:08 on the clock and immediately got into field goal position, as Moore found LaFell for 35 yards along the right sideline. That got the ball to the San Francisco 22, and after a gain of several more yards, Kasay split the uprights.
The 49ers didn't make it to midfield in the remaining time, and the game ended with an illegal formation penalty -- one of 11 penalties San Francisco incurred.
The Niners scored on their first possession, thanks to several big plays. Gore ran for 20 yards to get the ball near midfield, and Smith hooked up with Vernon Davis for 53 yards on the next play. That got San Francisco to the one, and Smith went to Davis again, finding the tight end open in the left flat for the score.
Kasay kicked a 47-yard field goal on Carolina's next drive to make it a 7-3 game after one quarter. A DeAngelo Williams fumble early in the second quarter led to a 24-yarder from Nedney with 8:44 left, but Carolina tied the game before the half was through.
The Panthers traveled 80 yards in 10 plays, the last of which was Moore's 18- yard strike to Gettis with 2:28 on the clock, making it a 10-10 game at the break.
Smith left the game on the opening drive in the third quarter, when he suffered the injury on a sack by Panthers defensive end Charles Johnson. Carr came in but faced a 3rd-and-28, and the Niners had to punt from their own two.
Carolina began the ensuing drive at its 43, and got onto the Niners' side of the field before Kasay made a 55-yarder.
Panthers receiver Steve Smith returned to the field after missing the team's last game with an ankle injury, and recorded four catches for 50 yards...Carolina avoided its first 0-6 start since beginning the 1998 season with seven losses...Williams ran for a team-high 44 yards and suffered an apparent right leg injury late in the fourth quarter...Gettis entered the game with 119 yards and no touchdowns in four games. LaFell had five catches for 83 yards through his first four contests...Davis finished with four catches for 74 yards for San Francisco, while Gore added four receptions for 57 yards.
10/24 18:31:00 ET