ORLANDO, Fla. (Nov. 18) - The FAMU Football team (3-8, 2-6 MEAC) let a golden opportunity at victory slip away as they have so many times this season on Saturday, as they dropped a 29-24 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference decision to archrival Bethune-Cookman in the Florida Blue Florida Classic.
The win was the seventh straight for the Wildcats (7-4, 6-2 MEAC) in the series against FAMU, which still leads the overall series, 48-22-1.
The teams exchanged punts to start the second half, but on FAMU's second possession, a third down and one halfback pass was deflected nd intercepted at the Wildcat 29-yard line.
But the FAMU Defense forced a three-and out and the Rattlers started from their own 32.
Ten plays and 68 yards later, freshman Ricky Henrilus took a pitch and dashed into the end zone from four yards out with 3:30 left in the third, vaulting the Orange and Green ahead, 17-10.
It was the defense for FAMU which came up big on third and one, penetrating the Wildcat backfield, forcing a fumble which end Antonio Moore scooped up and returned to the Wildcat 23.
Three plays later, Devin Bowers powered into the end zone from Wildcat formation, giving the Rattlers a 24-10 lead just into the fourth period.
Bethune-Cookman did not relent, driving 52 yards in nine plays, with quarterback Larry Brihm scrambling in from four yards out for a 24-17 score with 11:07 left
FAMU's next drive stalled inside their 40, then a fake punt failed when two up field blockers missed on would-be tackler, who made the stop on punter Chris Faddoul, stopping him short of a first down.
The Wildcats drove 42 yards in five plays, with Michael Jones running in from five yards out to bring B-CU within one, 24-23, but Uriel Hernandez's PAT kick try was blocked, leaving the Rattlers up by one, 24-23,
FAMU went three and out again after tight end Desmond Noird dropped a wide open pass on third down, forcing a pun to the Wildcat 22.
The 'Cats drove 78 yards in 13 plays, eating up precious time on the clock, with Larry Brihm taking the shotgun snap and racing to his left untouched for the game winning score, putting his club ahead, 29-24
FAMU moved to midfield on two pass completions, before Ryan Stanley's desperation heave toward the end zone with 46 seconds left, was picked off by Diquan Richardson to seal the win.
THE FIRST HALF
Bethune-Cookman drew first blood in the Classic, driving 80 yards on eight plays near the end of the opening stanza, as senior Larry Brihm found the speedy Ja-Quan Lumas for a 35-yard TD play witgh five seconds left in the quarter for a 7-0 Wildcat edge.
FAMU responded with a 60-yard, 10-play drive which ended with a 30-yard field goal by Yahia Aly, which cut the 'Cats led to 7-3 with just under 10 minutes left in the half.
B-CU took the ensuing kickoff and marched 50 yards only to stall, forcing them to settle for s 31-yard Uriel Hernandez fielder to extend their lead back to seven points at 10-3 with 6:22 left in the half.
The Rattlers struck back through the air, riding a 30-yard third down completion to Brandon Norood, to get in position for Kareem Smith's 31-yard TD catch from Ryan Stanley on the next play for a 10-10 tie score with 2:35 left in the half.
NOTES: Rattler RB Ricky Henrilus was the Classic MVP for FAMU.... QB Larry Brihm was the Wildcats' MVP.... Saturday's announced crowd was 47,819 at Camping World Stadium.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: MVP Ricky Henrilus rushed for 95 yards on 15 carries and one TD.... Stanley finished with 236 yards passing on 16 of 28 passing, with one TD... Kareem Smith led the Rattlers with five catches for 67 yards... Safety Terry Jefferson led FAMU with eight tackles nd one tackle for loss.