Despite taking a 63-3 beating from the Florida Gators Saturday in Gainesville, Coach Billy Joe and the Rattler football team (1-2, 1-0 MEAC) are content with their performance.
“You can score 100 points on a team, but it only counts for one game,” Joe said in a press conference after the game.
“The score don’t mean nothing. We proved we can compete against a I-A caliber team,” said senior defensive back Levy Brown.
Quarterback Ben Dougherty completed 10 of 18 passes for 68 yards while back-ups Charles McCullum, and Toney Scott combined for 5 passes and 25 yards. Rashard Pompey and Paul Sharpe led the Rattlers in rushing yardage combining for 151 yards on 25 carries.
“We still have some work to do on special teams. I’m just pleased with our guys,” Joe said.
Contradicting a pattern the Rattlers set in their first two games of the season, the team started off strong.
Florida quarterback Ingle Martin took the first snap of the game. First and 10 from his own 29 yard line Martin threw a 21-yard pass into the hands of Brown who stunned the Gator crowd returning the interception for 22 yards.
The pass was intended for senior tight end Ben Troupe.
“If you saw it, Ben was wide open, Ingle just over threw him. Ingle sometimes has a tendency to float the ball like that. He did it in the first game. He’ll bear down, and he’s been throwing the ball much better in the last couple weeks,” said Florida coach Ron Zook.
Brown attributes the interception to his playmaker personality. “I always want the ball. I was trying to take it to the house but I couldn’t,” he said.
The Rattlers gained possession on the Florida 28 yard line but in three plays were unable to advance the ball from that position. On fourth down Kicker Juan Vasquez cleared a 40-yard field goal, but FAMU was called for illegal procedure and penalized 5 yards. Vasquez’s second attempt, from the 45 yard line, was blocked by Florida cornerback/ wide receiver Keiwan Ratliff.
With 9:12 remaining in the first quarter, freshman running back DeShawn Wynn, who led the Gators with 14 carries for 95 yards and three touchdowns, put the first score on the board.
“Tonight, we wanted to establish the run a little bit and get on the ground. The offensive line did a good job of opening up the holes and the receivers did a good job of keeping their blocks down field. Most of the time, I usually had to make a one-on-one move against the secondary. There were big holes all night,” Wynn said.
On the next possession, the Rattlers answered the Gators’ score with a 47-yard field goal by Vasquez. Unfortunately, this would be the first and only time the Rattlers would score in The Swamp.
Zook “showed a lot of character and integrity by not running the score up,” Joe said.Next weekend the Rattlers face Tennessee State in the Georgia Power Atlanta Football Classic. The Tigers are 2-1 after defeating Jackson State 44-14 Saturday.