The Rattlers hope to reach their first winning record of the season, while the Golden Panthers of Florida International University hope to reach their first win in Saturday’s Orange Blossom Classic in Miami.
In the second meeting between the two in-state rivals, the Rattlers hope to even the score on the series. The Golden Panthers took the game by a score of 40-23 in last year’s Classic.
Despite being out gained in total yards by the Rattlers (546-293) in last years meeting, the Panthers used a 24 point second quarter to cruise past the Rattlers. In that meeting turnovers were a big part as the Rattlers committed six turnovers including a fumble and an interception, that were both returned for touchdowns.
“We’ve prepared hard this week,” said Sammy Doughty, a senior safety from Columbus, Miss. “We’re going in this week with the mindset of knowing we can beat them.”
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Chris Owens, once again, will head the Rattlers’ offense into battle, picking up the slack of the other two sidelined quarterbacks, Albert Chester and Josh Driscoll. Owens, taking full advantage of his opportunity, is putting his two cents into the whole quarterback quarrel by earning MEAC Rookie of the Week for his performance in the Atlanta Classic, going 19 for 30 for 226 yards and a touchdown.
This season, Owens has gained 542 yards passing and has thrown for two touchdowns, while completing 41 of 80 passes, and with a completion percentage of 51.2 percent, he is currently ranked second passing in the MEAC.
“Chris is our leader and the offense will break ’em down and the defense will take care of the rest,” said Doughty.
After starting the season 0-2, the Rattlers are now at .500 with a record of 2-2, while FIU comes into Saturday’s game with a record of 0-3 and thirsty for a win.
The Rattler defense is coming off an emotional goal-line stance to seal the victory versus Tennessee State University.
“As a defense, we plan to stick to our game plan,” said Chris Wooten, a junior defensive tackle from Cleveland, Ohio.
Despite this game being a homecoming for many Rattlers on the team including coach Carter, a former star athlete for Stranahan High School in Fort Lauderdale, the Rattlers understand the importance of remaining focused at the task at hand.
“We’re prepared to play hard, fast football,” said Brandon Finnie, a senior safety from Miami, Fla.
“With less turnovers and mental mistakes, I think we’ll have a great chance of winning.”
Meanwhile on the other side of the ball, the Golden Panthers will be lead by junior quarterback Josh Padrick. Padrick has collected 596 yards and two touchdowns of his own, while completing 60.2 percent of his passes.
His performance, however, wasn’t enough for the Golden Panthers to earn a victory.
With their three tough losses coming on a 35-21 loss to Kansas State, a 56-7 loss to Texas Tech and a 66-24 loss to Arkansas State.
The Rattlers intend to add another loss to that column in their quest to capture a MEAC title along with gaining national recognition.
Contact Reggie Snowden at email@example.com