Despite the record-breaking 73,538 fans rooting them on. Despite an 18-point Rattler lead with less than 6 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Despite the perks dished out inside the stadium to give them an extra boost on the field, the Rattlers feel 39-35 to the Bethune-Cookman College Wildcats.
After an early B-CC field goal, running back Rashard Pompey and quarterback Ben Dougherty worked their way down the field from the FAMU 17-yard line to the BCC 28-yard line for good touchdown position. The home team then received two penalties to put the Rattlers on the six-yard line.
Pompey rushed those six yards to give his team its first score.
In the second quarter, FAMU again dominated the gridiron. At second-and-seven on the BCC 33-yard line, Dougherty attempted a pass to wide receiver Rod Miller. The ball was almost caught by a B-CC defender but was instead deflected to Miller, who put the ball in the end zone to put the team ahead 14-3. Miller finished with 164 yards for the game.
Pompey rushed 3 yards for another touchdown with 5:22 remaining in the half, but FAMU wasn’t done yet. The team scored once more after Dougherty rushed for one yard 28-10.
After a 38-minute halftime, the teams came back to the field. This time, the story was slightly different.
Bethune-Cookman held FAMU scoreless in the third quarter while it scored two unanswered touchdowns. Quarterback Allen Suber rushed one yard for the first score.
On the next drive, FAMU fumbled the ball after a bad snap on the BCC 21-yard line. BCC recovered the ball on the 40-yard line to set up their next score. 11 plays and 6:13 minutes later, the Wildcats had scored again with Suber being successful on the 2-point conversion.
“He (Suber) clearly showed why he’s the MEAC Player of the Year,” B-CC head coach Alvin Wyatt said.
Suber finished with 80 rushing yards, 2 touchdowns and 52 yards passing.
With 8:34 on the clock, FAMU was 15 yards from the goal when center Michael Bode snapped the ball to an unready Ben Dougherty. The team attempted to recover but BCC was already on the ball. The Wildcats capitalized on that opportunity to drive 52 yards down the field for another touchdown.
“They never put their heads down,” Pompey said. “They just kept on going down the field.”
However, BCC gave FAMU another chance to come back.
The Rattlers were on their own 20-yard line when they started the drive. 17 yards later, Dougherty threw what would have been a 7-yard pass to Miller but ended up being an interception.
“Rod (Miller) did the right thing as a receiver, but the defensive guy was just right there.” Dougherty said. “We had the opportunity to make the big play at the end but made a bad read.”
There was 2:27 on the clock and BCC was at to its final down on the 48-yard line. Suber’s pass was incomplete, but the referees called pass interference and gave the Wildcats a second-chance.
That was all they needed. Six plays later they had scored the winning touchdown with nine seconds left.
“We didn’t have the polish and the championship demeanor like BCC had,” Joe said. “They methodically marched the ball down the field and won.”
This was the final game for all FAMU seniors. Also, the victory would have been Billy Joe’s 10 straight winning season as the head coach at FAMU.
“It hurts because we said we were going to go out and do well for them (the seniors and Joe), but we just didn’t get it,” Pompey said.
FAMU had 397 total yards to BCC’s 275 and only had to punt the ball once. However, they were just plagued by bad luck, missed calls and too many giveaways.
“Tonight we played like Santa Claus and gave away the ball because of too many miscues, fumbles and high snaps,” Joe said. “If you take away the mishaps, you can win, but unfortunately this is football and you can’t do that.”