TALLAHASSEE, Fla. | Ryan Stanley moved closer to another record and Xavier Smith registered over 100 yards receiving as the Florida A&M University football team held off North Carolina Central, 28-21, in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) game during homecoming at Bragg Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
Stanley, who came into Saturday’s conference game needing 333 yards to pass Quinn Gray’s all-time career passing mark of 7,378 yards, threw four touchdown passes and threw for 306 yards. Smith caught the final two touchdown passes, including the game winner with 32 seconds left.
The Rattlers (4-1 overall, 2-0 MEAC) wasted little time putting points on the board. Florida A&M received the opening kickoff and went 65 yards in just four plays, taking 1:01 off the clock as Stanley connected with David Manigo for 22 yards to give FAMU a quick 7-0 lead with 13:59 remaining in the first quarter.
Florida A&M extended the advantage to 14-0 as Stanley found Marcus Williams in the left corner of the endzone with 8:01 left in the first half.
The Eagles (2-4, 1-1) cut the deficit to 14-7 with a 12-play, 60-yard drive as Davius Richard scored from 1-yard out with a little less than two minutes remaining in the second.
North Carolina Central tied the game at 14 as Ryan McDaniel caught an 18-yard pass from Richard to complete a 10-play, 89-yard drive with 6:53 left in the third quarter.
The score remained tied until the Rattlers completed a 9-play, 74-yard drive as Stanley found Smith for a 13-yard strike, giving FAMU a 21-14 lead with 7:57 remaining.
But back came North Carolina Central as Richard connected with Tyler Barnes on fourth for a 16-yard touchdown, tying the game at 21 with 4:25 left.
That set the stage for the epic final drive as Florida A&M marched 65 yards in 10 plays, with Smith diving in on a 2-yard touchdown pass from Stanley, giving the Rattlers the 28-21 advantage with just 32 seconds remaining.
The Eagles had one final chance, but Richard’s final attempt was picked off by Andrew Hines to seal the Florida A&M victory.
@Shinetime_863 back at it again! Look at that route running... #FangsUp #FAMU #strikestrikestrikeagain #WeAreFAMU #FAMULY #buildingchampions #LegendsAreBornHere #Rattlers #WeBleedOrangeandGreen pic.twitter.com/z8RDpoGCOs— FAMU Athletics (@FAMUAthletics) October 5, 2019
An Xavier Smith touchdown with 7:57 remaining capped a 9-play, 74-yard drive, which gave the Rattlers a 21-14 lead.
However, North Carolina Central marched down the field and converted a 4th-and-4 from the FAMU 16 as Davius Richard threw a 16-yard touchdown to Tyler Barnes, tying the game at 21 with 4:25 left.
The Rattlers got the ball at their own 35 to start the final drive and moved the ball down the field as Ryan Stanley connected with Bishop Bonnett for 14 yards and three plays later, Smith caught a 25-yard pass to set up first down at the NCCU 18.
On 3rd-and-14, Stanley fired a 20-yard pass to Smith for a fresh set of downs and the ball at the Eagles’ 2-yardline.
After a Terrell Jennings rush for no gain, FAMU called timeout with 38 seconds left.
Smith’s number was called as he caught the ball in the backfield and dove into the endzone for the game-winning score.
Inside the Numbers
> Florida A&M finished with 22 first downs
> The Rattlers registered 396 total yards, including 319 through the air
> Bishop Bonnett led the ground game with 38 yards on 13 carries
> Ryan Stanley went 22 of 32 passing for 306 yards, with four touchdowns and one interception
> Xavier Smith caught a game-high nine passes for 129 yards, along with two scores
> David Manigo recorded 76 yards on four catches, with one touchdown
> Markquese Bell paced the defense with seven total tackles, including five solo stops and two pass breakups
> Terry Jefferson tallied six tackles, including 1.5 for a loss of three yards
> North Carolina Central finished with 16 first downs
> The Eagles recorded 316 total yards, with 220 coming through the air
> Davius Richard led the NCCU ground attack with 40 yards on five carries
> Davius Richard went 16 of 35 passing for 220 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions
> Xavier McKoy added 61 yards on four catches
> Deonta Fair registered eight tackles, including five solo stops and one interceptions
News & Notes
> This was the 15th meeting between Florida A&M and North Carolina Central
> Saturday marked homecoming and the attendance that was announced was 25,679
> FAMU improved to 7-4-1 all-time against the Eagles
> The Rattlers 4-1 overall record equals their best start since the 2009 season
> Florida A&M head coach Willie Simmons remained unbeaten (2-0) all-time against N.C. Central
> Ryan Stanley now has 7,352 career passing yards and is now just 26 yards shy of FAMU record-holder Quinn Gray (7,378 yards)
> Ryan Stanley needs seven touchdown passes to become the FAMU all-time leader
> Ryan Stanley is also approaching another record as he sits just 97 passing attempts from becoming the FAMU all-time leader
> Ryan Stanley was named to the 2019 Black College Football Player of the Year Award Watch List on Wednesday
Florida A&M returns to action on Saturday, Oct. 12 with a visit to Orangeburg, S.C. to face off against South Carolina State. Kickoff from Oliver C. Dawson Bulldog Stadium is set for 2 p.m. and the game will be streamed live on ESPN3, with a rebroadcast set for 10:30 p.m. on ESPNU.
The Bulldogs (2-1) travelled to Delaware State on Saturday evening. Last season, South Carolina State defeated Florida A&M, 44-21, at Bragg Memorial Stadium.
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