TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Nov. 4) – The FAMU Football team led early in their home finale Saturday afternoon, only to lose late as visiting Howard University overtook the Rattlers for a 37-26 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference victory at Bragg Memorial Stadium.
Resurgent Howard (6-3, 5-1 in MEAC) stayed in a tie for second place in the league with Saturday’s win with defending champion North Carolina Central, while first place North Carolina A&T won big at Norfolk State to remain unbeaten (9-0, 6-0) with two weeks to go.
Meanwhile, the Rattlers (3-7, 2-5 in MEAC) saw yet another opportunity slip away in the second half Saturday, as they could not close out the visiting Bison, despite leading 23-20 at the half.
Howard freshman quarterback Caylin Newton, younger brother of Carolina Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton, accounted for 435 total yards (141 rushing, 294 passing), rushing for a score and passing for three more.
Newton’s 40-yard Hail Mary to Jequez Ezzard at the gun to close the first half, trimmed the FAMU lead to three poi8nts, 23-20, setting the stage for the Bison to take control of the game in the third period.
Newton also fired a pair of TD strikes in that third period, while the Rattlers went silent offensively, falling behind, 34-23 heading to the fourth.
The two teams traded field goals in the final stanza as the Rattler offense punted three times in four second half possessions.
The bright spots for FAMU included redshirt freshman halfback Ricky Henrilus, who rushed for 153 yards on 20 carries and one score, a two-yard blast which put FAMU ahead, 7-0 with 12:45 in the opening quarter.
After Howard tied the game on a Newton 24-yard TD toss to Kyle Anthony, FAMU QB Ryan Stanley answered late in the first with a 25-yard aerial to Kareem Smith for a 13-7 lead with 3:43 left.
Stanley would finish the day 20 of 29 passing for 217 yards and to score to Smith, while rushing for another in the second period.
Yahia Aly’s 24-yard field goal pushed the Rattlers ahead to 16-7, before Howard’s Anthony Philyaw pounded in on a three-yard run to cut the FAMU edge to 16-13, after a failed two point try.
Stanley’s three-yard keeper moved the needle to 23-13 for the Rattlers with 4:59 left in the half, but Newton’s last gasp Hail Mary made it a three-point game at the break.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: FAMU announced Saturday’s home finale crowd of 17,234 at Bragg Stadium… Senior Brandon Norwood led the Rattlers with six receptions for 60 yards in his final home game while junior linebacker Jabreel Hartly led the Rattlers with 11 total tackles, 1.5 for nine yards in losses.
WHAT’S NEXT: FAMU has an open date, Nov. 11 before closing the 2017 campaign in Orlando against Bethune-Cookman, Nov. 18 at 2:00 p.m. at Camping World Stadium.