They had one more chance. One more chance to prove themselves to the Rattler nation. One more chance to show the country that FAMU is a team to reckon with.
That chance came and went Saturday evening as the Rattler football team suffered a disappointing loss to Florida Atlantic University 38-8.
Despite the 20-minute fireworks show, choir performances and special presentations, FAMU (3-6) was unable to get the ball moving, literally and figuratively, to secure another win.
“We knew we had a tall order in trying to defeat FAU,” said head coach Billy Joe. . “We were hopeful we’d be competitive and play a lot better than we did, but we didn’t.”
After winning the coin toss, the Owl attack was up and running.
A 30-yard kickoff return followed by an 11-yard rush by senior running back Doug Parker put the Owls (6-1) on their own 42-yard line.
Four plays later, the Owls were on the FAMU 11-yard line. Parker rushed again, this time into the end zone, for the game’s first touchdown with 11:14 still on the clock, in the first quarter.
“Last week we played an alright game but weren’t able to convert,” FAU defensive lineman Yrvens Guerrier said, of FAU’s 17-13 loss to the University of Louisiana Monroe. “This time we just fine tuned the little mistakes and were able to get the ball into the end zone.”
The Rattlers finally got the ball on their own 19-yard line. Senior quarterback Dougherty pushed his team to the FAMU 34 after connecting with senior Rod Miller for 13 yards. The unit was unable to convert and forced senior Damon Miller to punt. On the punt, FAU received an unnecessary roughness penalty for running into the kicker, which gave the Rattlers five yards, and enough for a first down.
On their next attempt to get down the field, the Rattlers made it to the FAU 36-yard line before bringing Damon Miller back in the game to punt.
Miller finished the game with 7 punts, averaging 42.1 yards.
Commenting on his efforts, Miller said, “I knew this season was my last chance to make an impact and I didn’t want to have a good season last year and come back and not do good.”
On its next possession FAU was unable to convert. The field goal attempt was blocked by senior Terrell Showers and recovered for a one-yard gain.
Before the quarter was over, the FAMU defense blocked another field goal attempt and recovered that for 4 yards.
“Our defensive and special teams were playing complete football,” Joe said. “They played a lot better than I thought they would while the offense played not as well as I thought they would.”
From the onset, FAU was putting constant pressure on the quarterback. Dougherty was sacked twice and the offense went 5 of 16 in third down conversions.
With 11:42 on the clock, FAMU’s Edward Kwaku intercepted the ball to give the Rattlers another chance to advance the ball. Unfortunately, the Rattlers were only able to move seven yards before turning the ball back over to the Owls.
Play continued for seven minutes without anyone scoring. FAU then scored on a field goal and soon after, a touchdown to move the score to 17-0 at the half.
“We were down 17 at halftime but it didn’t feel like we were out of the game,” Dougherty said.
After halftime the Rattlers came out hungry and with new blood at the quarterback position in junior Josh Driscoll. Advancing his team to the FAU 35-yard line after three quick plays and a penalty, the Rattlers looked ready to strike. However Driscoll’s next pass was intercepted and returned 47 yards to the FAMU 40.
“We were beginning to get a little bogged down and usually when that happens you try to get a different momentum by changing the quarterback,” Joe said.
In the third quarter, FAU’s offense connected once again. Senior Crissinger-Hill notched his second touchdown of the game off a pass from quarterback Jared Allen. The second touchdown came at the end of the quarter when Allen found Brittney Tellis.
The Owls finished with 315 passing yards. Allen completed 9 of 20 attempts.
Coming into Saturday’s game, the FAMU passing game ranked ninth in Division I-AA, averaging 279 yards per game. In this weekend’s contest, the Rattlers had only 239 passing yards.
The Owls scored one more touchdown in the fourth quarter to make the score 38-0.
Despite the uphill battle they were fighting, the Rattlers refused to give up. With Dougherty back, the home team made a nice drive up the field. Connecting with his receiver in the deep corner of the end zone, Dougherty completed his last touchdown in Bragg Stadium. Going for broke, the Ratters opted for the two-point conversion and were successful.
“I was very impressed with the resilience and tenacity of the FAMU football team,” said FAU head coach Schnellenberger.
The Rattlers will welcome these three weeks before the annual Florida Classic Nov. 20 to rest after they suffered a few injuries, including Rod Miller who had a high ankle sprain.
Contact Dominique Drake at email@example.com