By Morgan Culler/FAMU Sports Information
The last time the Florida A&M Rattlers (1-1) 0-0 MEAC) met the then Troy State Trojans (1-1), the Rattlers came out on top with a 17-10 victory in 1999. At that time, both schools were in NCAA Division I-AA (now FCS). Since then, the Trojans have moved up to football's highest division, FBS, and it was a different mountain for the Rattlers to climb.
Nineteen years later, the Rattlers would be on the opposite end of the spectrum losing 59-7. A first quarter filled with penalties would give the Rattlers an advantage in the stat book; however, they were unable to capitalize on allowing the score to quickly creep up to 21-0 with the Trojans leading.
Rattler turnovers and penalties allowed the Trojans to score quickly and often. The TU converted all eight of their red-zone opportunities as opposed to the Rattlers who would only convert one of their two opportunities.
“We didn’t play a clean game. Too many penalties too many self-inflicted wounds 4 turnovers, you’re not going to beat a good team when you play like that. That loss is on us as coaches. It is our job to get these guys fundamentally ready to play. We did a poor job this week obviously. So we’ll lick our wounds tonight and get back tomorrow and make our corrections. I still think we have a chance to be a really good football team, but we have to play better fundamentally,” said head coach Willie Simmons.
A missed 25-yard field goal from Yahia Aly with 10:35 left in the quarter would take away the Rattlers’ opportunity to get on the board early.
The Trojans’ defense would take away the run game from the Rattlers forcing redshirt junior quarterback, Ryan Stanley to become one dimensional for a span of the game. The Rattlers would suffer a huge momentum changer after a completed 36-yard pass from Stanley to redshirt freshman Xavier Smith would be called back after a pass interference call on Smith at the FAMU 43 yard line.
A blocked punt and return by redshirt freshman, Shon Spralling, would place the Trojans on the Rattler two yard-line.
A two-yard rush by junior Trojan quarterback, Kaleb Barker would give the Trojans their first touchdown of the game and after a successful PAT from sophomore kicker, Tyler Sumpter, the Trojans would go up on the Rattlers 7-0 with 5:23 left in the first quarter.
Less than three minutes later, the Trojans would score their second touchdown of the game. Another two yard reception from Barker to senior Damion Willis and a successful PAT from Sumpter would put the Trojans up 14 – 0.
The Trojans would close out the first quarter with a third touchdown with 55 seconds remaining in the quarter off of a 13-yard pass from Barker to Willis and successful kick from Sumpter.
The Rattlers would close out the first quarter with a total of 92 offensive yards and 24 offensive plays compared to the Trojans’ 99 offensive yards and 12 offensive plays.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Rattlers would come out and score their first and only touchdown of the game with 10:59 remaining in the half. Bishop Bonnett scored on a short run for his first touchdown of the season.
The Trojans would respond by scoring three more times in the first half bringing the score to 7 – 38 at the half.
Aly would miss another field goal attempt – this time from 48 yards away with 6:27 remaining in the third.
After not allowing any 50-yard plays last season, the Rattlers were able to successfully complete two against the Trojans with the second coming midway through the third quarter.
The third quarter would close out with two additional touchdowns from the Trojans – a 19-yard pass from Barker to senior wide receiver, Sidney Davis and a 53-yard interception return by junior linebacker, Tron Folsom. The pass from Stanley, intended for redshirt junior Marcus Williams, was tipped and landed into the hands of Folsom resulting in a touchdown with 9:05 remaining in the third bringing the score to 52-7.
The final touchdown by the Trojans would come in the fourth quarter with 13:32 remaining in the game after a 16- yard pass from redshirt sophomore quarterback Sawyer Smith to sophomore wide receiver Tray Eafford. A successful PAT from Sumpter would bring the score to 59-7.
The Rattlers would close the game with a total of 287 offensive yards compared to the Trojans 477 and 219 passing yards compared to the Trojans’ 185. The Trojans were able to outrun the Rattlers finishing the game with a total of 292 rushing yards compared to the Rattlers’ 68.
The Rattlers plan to focus on their fundamentals this upcoming week as they prepare to take on the Tigers of Jackson State University at home.
“It’s all about getting back to our 7 F’s. It’s about having faith. We just got beat. We got beat pretty soundly, so we have to continue to believe in the process and believe in what we’re doing. We have to play with great fundamentals. We have to clean up the mistakes. We made too many mistakes to win a football game of this caliber or in MEAC play. We’ve got to pick-up our tempo.,” Simmons concluded.