WASHINGTON, D.C.–Throw in a dab of poor officiating, a smidgen of inefficient ball control and a pinch of special teams that have been under-performing all season. Shake it vigorously for 3 hours and 28 minutes and what do you get?
A nice, cool 16-14 loss of course.
“We have changed,” said head coach Billy Joe. “We are not as strong as we used to be.”
The Rattlers were denied two key touchdowns and a field goal that would have put them ahead on the scoreboard. Joe said while the team didn’t perform well enough to win, they weren’t the only reason the team left Greene Stadium without a win.
“The officiating left a lot to be desired,” Joe said. “They even had trouble setting the down markers up. The skill, in my opinion, was not what it should have been.”
The Rattlers outperformed the Bison in all but one statistical category. The Bison held the ball for 37 minutes while the Rattlers only had possession for 23.
In a game where every effort counted, nothing hurt the team more than underperformance. And FAMU’s special teams weren’t up to par Saturday.
“Field goal and special teams haven’t been as effective as they have been in the past,” Joe said.
Place kicker Juan Vasquez missed his mark two times, which may have changed the game’s outcome. Halfway through the third quarter, Vasquez’s aim went awry when he missed a 34-yard field goal, which would have put the Rattlers ahead of the Bison. He missed another important field goal with 20 seconds left in the fourth quarter that could have given them the game. Officials ruled the kick wide left despite the disagreement of the spectators in the stadium.
Despite the Rattlers’ shortcomings on the field, the Bison had something to prove in beating the Rattlers at their homecoming.
“We knew that they were a passing team,” Bison coach Ray Petty said. “We wanted to take away their game.”
Jesse Hayes, a defensive tackle for the Bison said the victory was more than the product of heavy practice.
“Heart and pride won this game,” Hayes said, “We refused to lose again.”
But the Rattlers were obviously determined to win in Washington, also, as a post-game brawl between both teams ensued in the locker room area. No serious injuries were reported.
“No one is really hurt. There were a few feathers ruffled, but no one was hurt,” Joe said. “The bottom line is that we just did not play well enough to win.”