Florida A&M University Rattlers fell short to Bethune-Cookman University Wildcats, 34-7 in the 28th annual Walt Disney World Florida Classic at the Florida Citrus Bowl, Saturday.
The teams played in front of 65, 367 fans, the first time in nine years that the game had drawn less than 70,000 fans.
Early in the first quarter, B-CU forced FAMU to fumble at their 35-yard line; one of four fumbles that B-CU forced in the game.
With 2:53 left in the first quarter, senior Tyrone McGriff was issued a penalty for roughing the kicker on a B-CU punt.
As a result B-CU was awarded an automatic first down, which kept their drive alive.
With 14:56 remaining in the second quarter senior running back Justin Brannon from B-CU rushed for 1 yard score, the first touchdown of the game.
Attempting to recover from early mistakes, FAMU failed to score in the next two drives.
With 5:46 remaining in the second quarter B-CU’s quarterback Jimmie Russell, rushed for another one yard score, the second touchdown to extend the lead 14-0.
During FAMU’s next series with 4:01 remaining, redshirt freshman quarterback Eddie Battle
passed to Jarvis Funderburk for 24-yard scoring strike the Rattlers only touchdown bringing the score to 14-7.
“We made a few mistakes this season but were going to bounce back, get in the weight room and get be tter,” Funderburk said.
Slated as FAMU’s quarterback of the future Battle explained that the team kept fighting despite being down most of the game.
“It was upsetting and we didn’t want to go out this way,” said Battle
Even in defeat Head coach Rubin Carter explained that Battle is important in preparing for next year.
“Battle is developing into a key player for the team and has been committed to making the transition to becoming a bright young man,” Carter said.
With 1:02 remaining in the half, B-CU’s Ben Ballard recovered a FAMU fumble and returned it for 36 yards scoring another touchdown extending the Wildcat lead 21-7.
FAMU finished the first half with 3 fumbles and only possessed the ball a total of 8:53 compared to B-CU’s 21:07.
With 9:15 left in the 3rd quarter B-CU slipped in 3 more points with a 34-yard field goal by Lucas Esquivel.
The Wildcats continued their dominance with another touchdown with 4:50 remaining in the third quarter, making the score 31-7.
With the final point of the game, B-CUs Esquivel completed a 30-yard field goal that concluded the final score of the game 34-7.
FAMU’s freshman running sensation, Philip Sylvester, rushed for 73 yards on seven carries and also had five kick off returns for 123 yards.
His longest run was for 49 yards giving him 205 all purpose yards.
Junior linebacker Vernon Wilder led the team with 11 tackles followed by senior strong safety Ernest Williams with 10 tackles.
For the Wildcats, Justin Brannon, led the team with 140 yards on 20 carries with one touchdown.
The 27-point margin of victory was the second largest for Bethune-Cookman University in the Walt Disney World Florida Classic’s history.
In 1976 the Wildcats defeated the Rattlers 34-0 for the largest winning margin for B-CU, defeating the Rattlers 15 times in 61 games dating back to 1925.
The Wildcats will defend their title next year at the 29th annual Walt Disney World Florida Classic.