After nearly five years of failure, Florida A&M University’s Ratters finally managed to bring down inter-conference opponent Delaware State University. The joy of victory was short lived because of sophomore running back Lonvontae Page injury from a ricochet bullet during a shooting after the game on Saturday.
The game itself was a breakout game for Page at running back. He was able to climb up from the third position on the depth chart following preseason injuries. Page was able to rush for 61 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries, and the first six plays ran through Page.
But Page felt as though he still had room for improvement.
“I felt like I did all right, with the exception of the fumble,” said Page. “I feel like I let the team down on the defensive end. I feel like I’m just trying to get in the groove, we’ve got three quick games. All in all I felt like I did all right.”
FAMU’s offense totaled for 485 yards and 21 points, nearly double that of Delaware State.
Celebrations for Page’s on the field performance were cut short after an altercation near Gibbs Hall that caused a 17-year-old boy to open fire on a group of spectators inside a car. After firing five shots, the shooter hit his target, another 17-year-old, three times. Two bullets strayed and ricochet to hit both Page and his 14-year-old cousin.
Page was the only FAMU student to be injured in the shooting.
Page sustained an injury to his arm, which required him to undergo surgery on Tuesday, and will cause him to miss the remainder of the 2009 season.
“You just hurt for [Page] because certainly he was about to enjoy himself after having his biggest night as a Rattler,” said Head Coach Joe Taylor. “Now that’s going to be delayed for a year.”
“This will give him the opportunity to focus on the other side, the student part straight,” Taylor added. “He will play again.”
The night of the shooting was one of confusion, as the shooter was not immediately apprehended and the police, both FAMU Police Department and Tallahassee Police Department, had few leads to go on.
Lt. Norman Rollins said: “What we have so far is a black male with dread [locks] and a white t-shirt. Roughly middle weight, maybe 150 pounds. Not a heavy individual, he had a medium build. We don’t have much, everyone who gave a statement was trying to vacate the general area.”
According to Rollins, the shooter fired from the Gibbs Hall parking lot, hitting the victims in front of the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) building, and the new Multipurpose Center.
The suspect was apprehended the following day, and it was confirmed that he was a former student at Lincoln High School. FAMU Police has not confirmed rumors of the involvement of other individuals, as the investigation is still ongoing according to Calvin Ross of FAMU PD.
For now, all the Rattlers can do is wish Page well, as the threat of Winston Salem looms for Thursday night on a national stage.
“We’re going through our regular routine and the real key is we don’t change,” said Taylor. “We all heard about the good book, and dangers seen and unseen. We don’t change, there’s no knee jerk. The bottom line is we still walk with faith.”
Before the shooting, Page expressed a large amount of work ethic, telling the Famuan “I’m going to run until I get tired, and I’m not coming out until coach says to come out. I’m going to run until they pull me out, even if I’m tired.”