The way Morgan State moved the ball on the opening drive of Saturday’s game, it seemed like it would be a long night for FAMU.
As it turned out, the Bears’ opening drive touchdown was the only time they reached the end zone, as the Rattlers (1-1, 1-0 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) beat Morgan State 26-7 in front of 15,305 at Bragg Stadium.
“We started slow, and put our defense in a tough situation,” said FAMU quarterback Ben Dougherty. “But we picked it up, once we realized their game plan.”
MSU (1-1, 0-0 MEAC) started the game by driving the ball 80 yards in just over three minutes, capped off by a three-yard touchdown run by quarterback LeJominick Washington. From there, the Rattlers took over.
After struggling to move the ball in the first quarter, FAMU got its offense in gear in the second. Dougherty hooked up with receiver Maurice Demps on a 73-yard pass, bringing the Rattlers down to the 13-yard line. On the following play, Dougherty found receiver Rod Miller in the end zone to tie the game. Dougherty would find Miller again later in the quarter on a 34-yard throw-and-catch. FAMU gain a field goal out of that drive.
“We were very balanced this game,” Miller said. “When the running game and the passing game are both going well, our offense is very hard to stop.”
The Rattlers continued to move the ball with ease in the second half. On FAMU’s opening drive, Dougherty marched the offense down the field, and capped off the drive with a 26-yard touchdown scamper. He threw another touchdown in the fourth quarter, a 39-yard pass to freshman Gerard Morgan.
Dougherty had another great game for FAMU, gaining 411 total yards to go along with his three scores. Freshman receiver Cardan Alexander, who started this week over junior Petrus Loriston, led all receivers with seven catches for 63 yards. Morgan, the other freshman receiver getting the start over the experienced Roger Dowdell, had three catches and 59 yards to go along with his touchdown.
“[Loriston and Dowdell] know our system a little better, but the two freshmen are more talented,” FAMU coach Billy Joe said. “Those kids can make plays for us, and that’s what they did [Saturday].”
FAMU’s defense stepped up tremendously after the first quarter. But MSU’s lack of an efficient passing attack hurt them, as they tried to come from behind.
“We just need to keep the heat on the quarterback,” Joe said. “A quarterback needs a lot of time to throw deep. If you give him that time, he’ll beat you.”
The offensive line, which gave up six sacks against Alabama State last week, was much improved.
“They were getting hassled all week by everybody,” Dougherty said. “But they brought it today. I’m so proud of those guys.”
The win is even bigger for FAMU, with a match-up against Florida looming next Saturday.
Safety Levy Brown went down in the second quarter with a left knee injury. Although he didn’t return, the injury wasn’t severe. MSU’s Littlejohn, who had 113 rushing yards and two scores last week, only had 55 total yards Saturday. With Saturday’s win, FAMU will likely end its series against the Bears on a nine game winning streak.