ATLANTA-As 67,712 fans packed into the Georgia Dome to see the Rattlers face the Tigers in the 14th annual Atlanta Football Classic, there were two things on most people’s minds: who would win the battle of the bands and which streak would be broken, the Rattlers two-game Classic winning streak or their five-game losing steak.
While the first question was answered in the Marching 100’s favor before either band entered the stadium, Rattler fans had reasonable doubt about the game’s outcome until the very end.
Coming into this year with two straight Atlanta Classic wins, but no wins for the season, and five straight losses since last season, the Rattlers knew this was a must win situation. After all, in a week, they’d be heading back to Bragg Memorial Stadium for the home opener and fans don’t find enjoyment in rooting for a losing team. They’d probably leave after half time.
Taking on three Division I-A opponents in three weeks is a tough task, but the average fan doesn’t care about the skill level of your opponent. It’s all about you and up to this point, the Rattlers have been losers.
Even Coach Billy Joe said the team just wanted to come out on top, no matter how it happened.
His quote was great: “We would just like to come out of ‘Hotlanta’ with a victory. If it means by one point, a fluke, we don’t care.”
And Joe got his victory.
While the team still has a disappointing 1-3 record, at least it now has a win. After all, the Rattlers are playing the toughest schedule in Division I-AA football.
It was amazing how it all went down and honestly Saturday’s victory is the result of gutsy passes by Ben Dougherty and the great hands of the unlikely hero, sophomore receiver Roosevelt Kiser. Kiser capitalized on two great passes for two fourth quarter scores sending the Rattlers over the Tigers, 21-15.
There must be something in that number. Adorned in the same number seven that 2002’s Atlanta Classic hero, Levy Brown, wore, Kiser can proudly demand respect on the Rattler field now. In just his second year with the team, the emerging standout has 30 catches for the season and brought in a respectable 181 yards on 13 catches Saturday.
In 2002, Brown saved the Classic for the Rattlers with his amazing defensive skills, setting league interception records during his junior season.
Now that the Rattlers have a win coming into the home opener, they can demand a little more respect, but this must be the beginning of a new trend or the Rattlers will quickly regain that loser label.
Keep the wins coming Rattlers, the fans are watching you now.
Elizabeth Broadway is a senior newspaper journalism student. She is editor in chief of The Famuan. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org