Get used to hearing the name Philip Sylvester, because the Howard Bison (0-2)(0-2) won’t forget as they were steam rolled right out of Tallahassee after giving up over 300 yards rushing in a 30-17 defeat courtesy of the Rattlers (1-2)(1-1) Saturday night at Bragg Memorial Stadium.
The Marianna native gained a career high 222 yard rushing, 196 in the first half, in only his third game at the collegiate level. He averaged an astonishing 10 yards a carry as the offensive line gave plenty running room for the tail back.
Of the three games played this season, Sylvester has a total of 362 yards on the ground, an average of 120 a game.
The freshman seems to be coming along fast just three games into the season and he is still adjusting to being the number one back as a true freshmen.
“I’m getting used to the game speed and the crowd and learning not being nervous,” said Sylvester..
In gaining 222 yards against Howard, the young freshmen put up the fourth best single game rushing performance ever at FAMU.
“We were able to get seams and create running lanes and any slight seam Sylvester can go the distance,” Head Coach Rubin Carter said. “He works hard and is not satisfied he wants to do special things, he is a two dimensional player, a complete back.”
Sylvester’s record came on a special night for the FAMU family as the 1957 championship team was honored, with former coach Billy Joe inducted into the FAMU Sports Hall of Fame and the numbers of former players Tyrone McGriff Sr., Henry “Killer” Lawrence, and Ulysses “Crazy Legs” Curtis were retired.
With senior wide receiver Willie Hayward sidelined with a leg injury the Rattler offense needed another game breaker who has the ability to go the distance any time he touches the ball.
Sylvester did just that when the Rattlers were pinned down to their own two-yard line. Two plays later, Sylvester out ran the entire Howard defense down the right sideline all the way to the end zone 94 yards later.
“I guess Howard thought we were trying to get to the half but we were trying to score,” Sylvester said.
While Sylvester ran through the Howard defense, his running ability was able create opportunities for the rest of the Rattler offense.
Senior quarterback Albert Chester II gained 58 yards on 13 carries, which included a two-yard touchdown run in the first quarter on a naked bootleg.
The Rattler offense was able to execute the bootleg several times including a 35-yard touchdown pass from Chester to red shirt freshman wide receiver Adrian Smith.
Early in the third quarter the Rattlers were driving in Howard territory when Chester rolled right, Smith found a lane in the middle of the Bison defense and Chester hit a wide-open Smith, who scampered to the end zone.
“We noticed on film that if you act like you are going to give him (Sylvester) the ball everybody on defense reacts,” said Chester.
Running back Anthony Edwards also contributed by gaining 48 tough yards as he continued the rushing dominance by FAMU running between the tackles to offer that change of pace, one-two punch that he and Sylvester offer.
Total domination by the Rattler offense was vital in defeating Howard.
The Rattlers controlled time of possession, converted 9 of 16 third downs, had 24 total first downs compared to 13 by Howard, and out gained the Bison in total yardage by 200 yards.
FAMU’s rushing attack overmatched the soft defense of Howard.