The Florida A&M University Rattlers have benefited from big plays throughout the season.
But the South Carolina State University Bulldogs snapped FAMU’s three-game win streak Saturday night and the home team’s miscues played a role in the defeat.
“Offense, defense, special teams – we were just off,” said linebacker Vernon Wilder, who registered six tackles including one tackle for loss in the contest.
The junior from Miami said SCSU has one of the premier programs in the conference but the blame for the loss should fall on FAMU.
With a bye, the Rattlers had an extra week to prepare for the Bulldogs. Junior wide receiver Willie Hayward said the squad should have been more than ready.
“It’s just coming into the game flat and not executing early,” said Hayward, who caught six passes for 99 yards and two second half touchdowns.
The team would not use its time off or inexperience as an excuse.
“We don’t know why we start off like that. We’ve got to correct it though,” said Wilder of the team’s sluggish starts. FAMU won the opening toss and elected to receive.
On the sixth play of the drive, junior Wesley Taylor lined up on the FAMU 34-yard line for a punt.
After a punt block by SCSU freshman defensive back Phillip Adams, redshirt freshman wide receiver Travance Jackson returned the fumble for a 4-yard touchdown.
“We can’t keep doing the same thing over and over. We got to get it together at the beginning. And I take that on myself,” said redshirt junior quarterback Albert Chester II, who accepted the blame for FAMU’s offensive struggles.
A rundown of the team’s five first half possessions: punt, fumble, interception, punt, missed field goal.
Blanked after two quarters, the FAMU offense struggled at the start of the third. After the break, Taylor missed a 36-yard field goal on the Rattlers first drive. Next, a three-and-out possession ended with a punt.
The orange and green offense came alive near the end of the third quarter.
Chester and Hayward linked up for a 17-yard touchdown. Chester finished with a career-high three touchdown passes in the game.
Despite the loss, the athletic department still had something to celebrate.
FAMU wore throwback jerseys in honor of this year’s Sports Hall of Fame Weekend.
The nine inductees included: former football players Oteman Sampson, John Hamilton, Frank Marion and Curtis Taylor. Also, four Marching ‘100’ leaders were inducted as athletic supporters.
This group included: band director Julian White, composer and arranger Lindsey Sarjeant, director of percussion Shaylor James, and the late Charles Bing.
Head softball coach Veronica Wiggins rounded out the class.