By Morgan Culler/FAMU Sports Info Grad Asst.
Baltimore, Md. (Sept. 28) – The Florida A&M Rattlers (3-6, 2-4 MEAC) defeated the Morgan State (MSU) Bears (1-7, 1-4 MEAC) 34 – 31, in a back and forth battle at Hughes Stadium.
Head coach Alex Wood is please with the team’s effort in today’s win. “We finally got a win in the fourth quarter. We played 60 minutes of football. Like I say sometimes, it was not always pretty, but it was complete and we won the game. I think we got out without a holding call, so that’s miraculous. But, we did get penalized a couple of times, had a couple of turnovers which obviously is a concern, but we’re really happy about getting the win,” Wood said.
The Rattlers started off a bit shaky after a kick return catching error lead to a fumble recovery by the Bears.
After a failed 45-yard field goal attempt by the Bears, the Rattlers would respond with a 48-yard touchdown reception from redshirt sophomore quarterback Ryan Stanley to redshirt freshman wide receiver, Chad Hunter. This would be the first game the Rattlers scored first since they Norfolk State game on Oct. 7. A successful PAT from junior kicker, Yahia Aly put the Rattlers up 7-0 with 5:29 remaining in the first quarter,
Shortly after the quarter change, the Bears would respond with a 41-yard rushing touchdown from sophomore quarterback, DeAndre Harris. After a successful PAT from Alex Raya Jr. the score was tied at seven all.
It took the Rattlers slightly over seven minutes and nine plays to score the next touchdown. The final play of the drive, a 24-yard pass from Stanley to redshirt freshman tailback, Ricky Henrilus, would give the Rattlers their second touchdown of the evening. Aly PAT put the Rattlers up 14-7 with the PAT.
Stanley was also upbeat about the win, “It feel good man, finally getting a close win. We had a lot of close games in the past and finally pushed through adversity and won this one. We opened up and did some pretty good things offensively, moved the ball, put up a bunch of points. When it came down to it defense held it down,” Stanley said.
The Rattlers’ defense returned to the field with some added fire under their belts, forcing a fumble at the Morgan State 34 yard-line. The fumble, forced by redshirt senior, Jules Dornevil, was recovered at the Bears 30 yard-line and returned for a touchdown. The score and PAT would put the Rattlers up 21-7.
MSU would close the first half with two touchdowns to Amonta Poteat from Harris, going into halftime knotted with a score of 21-21.
In the second half, FAMU worked their way down the field again and was able to put Aly in place for a successful field goal, putting the Rattlers up 24-21; however, the lead would not last long as the Bears would respond with a 35-yard field goal from Raya.
The back and forth scoring would continue into the fourth quarter. After 36-yard field goal from Aly with 14:49 remaining in the game that would put the Rattlers back in the lead with a score of 27-24, the Bears would respond with a 90-yard drive culminated in a 3-yard rushing touchdown by Harris – boosting their score to 27- 31 after a Raya PAT.
So often this season, the Rattlers had fallen short after playing a solid game. That would not be the case today. The Rattler offense manufactured one last game-winning touchdown. Hunter caught 55-yard pass after beating his defender, while Stanley laid the pass in perfect position, setting up a 12-yard pass from Stanley to Henrilus for the last touchdown of the game. A drive of 5 plays, 78 yards and a successful PAT from Aly would make the final score for the Rattlers 34-31.
A Rattler interception by Terry Jefferson would give the ball back to the Rattlers to end the game.
The Rattlers finished the game with four penalties for 39 yards – the fewest number of penalties and yards this season.
The Rattlers will celebrate their graduating seniors next weekend and take on the Bison of Howard University during their final home game of the 2017 season.