Rattlers ready to strike foes

The Rattlers will continue its three-game road trip Saturday, the longest of their season, making a visit to Dover, Del., to play the Delaware State Hornets. The Rattlers (2-1, 1-0 in MEAC), coming off a win in its first Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game of the season against Morgan State, will look to stay undefeated in the MEAC against a Delaware State team that will be playing its first conference game this year. The Rattlers opened the road trip in a big way last week against Morgan State, until the end of the first half, when quarterback Casey Printers went down with an ankle injury. Although the Rattlers built up a 24-0 lead at halftime, Printers and the rest of the team watched the lead diminish, but managed to hold on for the win. The biggest relief may not have been escaping from Cincinnati with the victory, but the news that Printers’ ankle injury was not serious. He is listed as probable for Saturday’s game.”I can still play. I felt I could’ve finished the Morgan State game, but the doctors said no,” Printers said. “My hyperextended knee still hurts as well (as the ankle), but it’s just one of those things where you have to get it treated every day.” The Rattlers will take an eight-game winning streak against Delaware State into Saturday’s match-up, having not lost to the Hornets since 1993. Last season’s game in Tallahassee remained close until the fourth quarter. That was when the Rattlers began to pull away – eventually winning 35-17. Despite the streak, Delaware State’s unique style of offense, according to head coach Billy Joe, makes the Hornets hard to prepare for.”When your opponent has a complicated scheme, it wreaks havoc on your preparation,” said Joe, who has never lost to Delaware State. “We’ve been able to beat them, but we haven’t mastered their concept.”Junior cornerback Levy Brown, who was the Division I-AA Player of the Week last week, gathering in three interceptions to go along with nine tackles, has a different idea about how effective Delaware State will be.”Our defense is very solid. (Delaware State) will have a hard time moving the ball on us, if they even move the ball,” Brown said.The Rattlers, which has been known as a passing team throughout the years, is finding an identity on the ground, which is adding a new wrinkle to the offense. FAMU ran for 274 yards against Morgan State. Freshman running back Rashard Pompey ran for 149 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. Pompey, along with Devvin Richardson and Kelsie Lordeus, who was just granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA, forms a potent backfield.”We’re running the ball more because Coach Joe is having more confidence in the running game,” Pompey said. “One of the goals (the running backs) set for each other is that one of us has to rush for at least 100 yards per game, and we’re doing it. That’s making Coach Joe believe in us.”

At a GlanceThe Match-up: Florida A&M Rattlers (2-1, 1-0 in MEAC) at Delaware State Hornets (2-1, 0-0 in MEAC), Saturday, 1 p.m., Alumni Stadium, Dover, Del.Last week: FAMU defeated Morgan State 34-16; DSU lost to Northwestern State 34-14Last meeting: Sept. 1, 2001, FAMU defeated DSU 35-17 at Bragg StadiumSeries record: FAMU leads 16-4 since 1977Injury report: FAMU- out: DE Sean Kelly (knee, ACL); questionable: OT Gudea Morris (ankle); probable: RB Rashard Pompey (shoulder), LB Rickey Funches (ankle), QB Casey Printers (ankle); DSU- out: LB Rashad Atkinson (knee); questionable: CB Deon Rheubottom (ankle)

Kevin Fair can be reached at thefamuansports@hotmail.com