CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Saturday marked history for the Charlotte 49ers football program and freshman Justin Bolus was right in the middle of it.
Bolus went into the record books for scoring the first offensive touchdown in the history of the 49er football program in that 52-7 victory over Campbell.
"It was pretty easy for me to catch that one," Justin said. "I'm really excited I could do that."
That excitement wasn't just because of what that touchdown reception meant to the program. Bolus almost never made it to the opener. While visiting friends in Columbia, S.C. last fall, Justin became violently ill.
"My stomach was in knots and it was lasting for a couple of hours. When I started throwing up and it wasn't making me feel better, that's when I started worrying."
Justin's intestine had twisted and he needed surgery to correct the issue.
"Just hearing that I'd be out for six weeks, it hurt a lot.”
The worst was yet to come for Bolus. His intestine was accidentally cut during that initial procedure and he was rushed back in for an emergency procedure the following week. He later developed pneumonia and lost 50 pounds.
"You look at yourself in the mirror, and you see yourself, and you're so skinny."
Once he was cleared to resume football activities, Justin worked extra hard, eating five to six meals a day and hitting the weights as often as he could. "In the end, it made me worker harder than I ever have to come back, and I don't take any of this for granted. It's not just about football, my team who barely knew me at the time, sent me text messages every day."
Bolus and the 49ers sent Campbell a message on August 31 with that season opening win. Now he and the 49ers look to go 2-0 on the season when they host Chowan Saturday afternoon at Jerry Richardson Stadium.