Saturday’s loss to South Carolina State not only dealt the Rattlers their first conference loss, but a multitude of bumps, scrapes, and bruises.
During the first quarter junior safety Levy Brown injured his shoulder, exited the field and returned wearing a sling. Out of uniform, he watched the remainder of the game from the sidelines.
“That was a big blow, he was a strong person on our defense,” coach Billy Joe said.
Coming into Saturday’s game Brown had 36 tackles and was No. 2 in Division I-AA with seven interceptions.
Towards the end of the second quarter, senior quarterback Casey Printers aggravated his ailing left ankle and was forced to sit out the remainder of the game.
Printers rushed for only 17 yards off of eight attempts and averaged a loss of 1.8 yards a rush.
“We came into the game knowing that we would be limited as far as me running the ball,” Printers said.
He completed 8 of 16 pass attempts for 155 yards and threw one interception.
“I wanted to give Casey a good opportunity to get his game going…but if he was healthy I think he would have done a better job” Joe said.
Senior linebacker Torre Warren and senior wide receiver Dennis Bonga also suffered injuries, but returned to play shortly after their exits. Warren returned and made six tackles (two solo) and Bonga caught five passes for 67 yards and one touchdown.
Offensive lineman Shedrick Moten was injured during the second quarter and back-up quarterback Reggie Hayes appeared to be nursing his hip while battling fatigue during the fourth quarter.
Luck doesn’t seem to be in the cards for this season’s injury-prone Rattler team.
“Every five or six years you get injuries like this. This evidently is our year to have a flood of injuries,” Coach Billy Joe said after the game.
The Rattlers lost 2001 All-American defensive end Sean Kelly earlier this season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).
Printers injured his left ankle Sept. 14 against Morgan State.
The team lost its leading rusher and scorer of the 2001 season, Kelsie Lordeus, to a knee injury Sept. 28.
Then Saturday came.
“We’re not the same team that came into this season,” Joe said.
Although hurting mentally and physically after the 31-13 loss to the Bulldogs, the Rattlers accept no excuses.
Bonga admits that injuries hurt the team but “they (South Carolina State) came out here, balled out and beat us.”