Senior punter Damon Miller looked intently in the eyes of the media and made it clear that losing is not an option for this week’s match-up against Florida Atlantic University.
“Especially the seniors; we don’t want to lose our last game in Bragg. We don’t want to lose period,” said Miller adding that all his life he dreamed of being a Rattler. “I’ve been a fan since I was a little kid. I used to sit up in the stands…I hate losing. I mean I hate it with a passion. You can ask anybody … We’re going to go out and do our best and try to come out with a win.”
Twenty-one Rattlers will play in Bragg Memorial Stadium for the last time this weekend.
And senior starting quarterback Ben Dougherty admitted that the one loss they had in Bragg this season was one too many.
“There’s nothing more that I want than to win my last game in Bragg Stadium,” Dougherty said. “That (loss to Nicholls State) hurt badly… We don’t want to lose another one (at home).”
Although the Rattlers are coming off a comfortable 50-14 win over Savannah State, they know that FAU is going to be a little bit more of a competitor.
“We’re really putting Savannah State behind us,” said starting quarterback Ben Dougherty. “Florida Atlantic has a lot better athletes than Savannah State University on both sides of the ball.”
The Rattlers haven’t won a game against a Division I-A team since the 1979 victory over the University of Miami.
In that year, FAU’s current coach, Howard Schnellenberger, was head coach of the Hurricanes.
He has more than 42 years of coaching experience. Schnellenberger, who led the 1983 Miami team to its first national title, is in his fourth year as coach at FAU.
“The fact that they’re just so well coached you really have to come with your ‘A’ game if you’re going to beat FAU,” said Rattler Head Coach Billy Joe. “We have to play error-free football. Anything less than that and it’s a blowout.”
Sophomore receiver Roosevelt Kiser agreed.
“It’s going to come down to who limits their mistakes,” he said.
FAU lost its first game of the season last week against the University of Louisiana-Monroe, 17-13.
The Owls were riding a five-game winning streak coming into the game against the Indians and the loss was only the second in 17 games for FAU.
Florida Atlantic will probably split half of its yardage between its rushers and receivers.
Quarterback Jared Allen should go to tight end Anthony Crissinger-Hill, and wide receivers Roosevelt Bynes and Larry Taylor with most of his passes.
The trio has accumulated 73 catches for 1,248 yards.
Running back Doug Parker, with 125 carries for 579 yards and five touchdowns on the season, will likely lead FAU’s ground attack.
The FAU defense should have some trouble with the Rattlers’ passing game, which is ranked ninth in Division I-AA.
The quarterbacks have a combined 2,233 yards and average almost 280 yards per game.
Head Coach Billy Joe said the Rattlers are excited to host the provisional Division I-A Florida Atlantic team, but realize the Owls will not be an easy team to defeat, even at home.
“We’re very happy to have a home game and to be playing FAU. They’re a real fine football team and program,” Joe said. “We have a challenge. It’s a tall order, but we’re up to the challenge and I think our players will play well on Saturday.”
After Saturday’s game, the Rattlers will have back-to-back bye weeks until the final game of the season, Florida Classic XXV on Nov. 20, against Bethune-Cookman College in Orlando.
Fans without tickets to either match-up can catch the Rattlers on television.
Saturday’s contest will air on ESPN Regional and the Florida Classic will be broadcast nationally on a cable channel, to be announced.
Contact Elizabeth Broadway at email@example.com.