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Well the Rattlers are back at home after going 1-2 during a 3 game road trip. Norfolk University is not a break from the tough games but at least it’s a home game. Plus it’s homecoming so there will be no shortage of support.
This game holds importance for a few reasons. It’s homecoming for one thing. Tuesday, defensive back Fabian Wilson expressed a desire to win following last year homecoming loss. It’s also the first in FAMU’s last five conference games. This means that a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference title is not entirely out of the question after a loss to South Carolina State.
A few spectators have already noticed the new scoreboard. It’ll be nice to see it in action during the game, but right now it looks like a good scoreboard. That is, is has a picture, it tells the time and isn’t falling over.
About two more hours before kickoff, check back at around 1:45 p.m., after the teams take the field for warm-ups.
With homecoming comes highly interesting people. Former quaterback (1976-78) and national champion Albert Chester is a highly interesting person. He took the time to sit down for an inteview and turned it into an actual conversation. One thing he stressed was a liking for second-year coach Joe Taylor.
“We’re going to win eight or nine games every year Taylor is here,” Chester said.
I can’t help but agree with him on that one.
“It’s hard to compare, but I think [this team] has the talent and the skill set to compete for the title,” Chester said.
Again, agreed. Different eras, skillsets and sizes make it hard to compare a title in the 70s to a title run today. Still, FAMU does have a shot.
You’d think all quarterbacks would give their right toe to play again, after watching Brett Favre all summer, but Chester actually laughed at the thought of giving it another try today.
“When I played, I used to get up and run a mile and a half,” Chester said. “Now I warm up to get my clothes on. My mother used to say, ‘Today is for you, tomorrow is for someone else.’ Well tomorrow for me has come and gone.”
FAMU has plenty of likable alumi, but chatting with a past champion just made me all the more excited for this game. Plus it did a great job of helping to kill time until kickoff, still an hour from now.
Almost kickoff time. The band just went out, excellent as usual. I’ll probably be shocked the day the band decides to play just well instead of exemplary.
FAMU gets the ball first… off a squib kick. Is every team really that terrified of Leroy Vann? The drive will start from the 33 yard line, and Curtis Pulley will have plenty of real estate to show the offense is back after 2 straight losses.
Establishing the running game over the past two games has been an issue. Watching this first drive, I feel compelled to make an early prediction that the issue has been resolved. In a matter of four minutes the Rattlers are inside the one yard line, with only one complete pass.
It’s early, but the offense looks relaxed, confident and pretty excited to be here.
Yeah the offense is back. Seven plays, 67 yards and 4:13 off the clock and FAMU is on the board 7-0. Establishing the running game has its rewards in the redzone. A play action pass to Mykel Benson proves the offense is looking to erase all memories of the previous two weeks.
Short fields have to be the arch-nemesis off the FAMU defense. It took FAMU seven plays to drive 67 yards. Norfolk State had the same amount of plays, and only had to go 31.
Special teams has to step up. These penalties are giving the defense nightmares.
Tie game 7-7.
Curtis Pulley isn’t running for his life… and I don’t think he knows what to do with himself. He has nearly unlimited leisure time in the pocket and no completed passes far this drive.
Norfolk State is doing a great job helping out though. Two pass interference calls and we’re at the 23 yard line.
On a side note, it looks like coach Taylor is pulling out the trick plays, lining Vann up at quarterback. Interesting I guess, but nobody gets the job done like Pulley.
Fourth and goal, the Rattlers line up the field goal unit and…something is wrong with the scoreboard. New scoreboard comes with hiccups I guess.
The 22 yard field goal was good by the way.
You know what I said about interesting people? Well I just had a quick chat with a New York Times person, so I missed a few things.
Anthony Shutt recorded his first interception of the year, FAMU’s third of the season. FAMU pulled out the “Wild-Rattler” formation again, this time with Kevin Elliot under center. The first quarter ended, FAMU tried the trick formation again, and Philip Sylvester ran it in for 22 yards.
This is an interesting time for FAMU. More interceptions and trick plays and suddenly the game is much less formulaic.
Norfolk State is not helping its own cause. Penalties, missed tackles and on overall lack of urgency and intensity are shooting the defense right in the foot. And then in the other foot. And then in the eye.
A dynamic offense is nice and it puts plenty of yards on the field. That said, there is no substitute for plain talent at quarterback. Pulley is pulling the offense out of its slump in a big way, most recently with a 30 yard strike to Benson.
There were no tricks on the play either. Pulley just dropped back, scanned the field, and delivered the play.
24-7, FAMU, 6:43 left in the half.
Not wanting to feel left out, NSU also ditched the tricks for the time being. Two plays and 51 yards and NSU is right back in it. The score came off a touchdown strike of their own to receiver Chris Bell.
A blocked extra point kind of sours things, but still, it’s a score.
24-13, FAMU, 5:52 left in the half.
I wonder if the endzone missed seeing FAMU so much. Over the past two games the Rattlers put up 36 points. In this half the Rattlers put 31 and counting. Pulley’s latest run puts the Rattlers up 31-13.
Halftime. For the first time in 3 weeks, the Rattlers are leading at the half behind potent offense and a stingy defense. We’ll see if this keeps up throughout the second half as well.
First half stats.
Total yards: FAMU, 313, NSU, 157.
Rushing yards: FAMU, 211, NSU, 51.
Passing yards: FAMU, 102, NSU, 106.
Penalties: FAMU 6 for 47, NSU, 55.
Third down conversions: FAMU 2 of 3, NSU 3 of 5.
Score: FAMU, 31, NSU, 13.
Yeah halftime just ended. 10 yards in the wrong direction for FAMU. I love the band as much as the next Rattler, but really, a half hour to run a 20 minute show (and the clock started late) is a litte crazy. NSU ball at the 47.
Quick question: Will anyone kick to Vann ever again?
Uneventful quarter so far. FAMU was on the move, but the drive stalled and now we’re looking at three and outs.
Side note: The chain gang forgot how to changed the numbers on the down sign. Not really a big deal, just a funny observation for those in the press box.
You know what happens when you rush a good kicker with poor time management? He shanks a 30 yard attempt. Trevor Scott has the leg strength for 47 and 50 yarders, so there was no reason for him to miss.
He did, and now NSU has the ball. And it seems like they’ve got a bit of a swagger to them now. They’re marching down the field in any case.
NSU, touchdown, followed by a personal foul on safety Greg Harvey. Not a good way to start off the fourth quarter.
31-20, FAMU, 14:50 left in the game.
Two bright spots. FAMU finally scored again off a Scott field goal. Pulley is also on pace to rush for 200 yards in a single game. He’ll be only the ninth player in FAMU history to do so. That will put a nice little stamp on the victory.
20 minutes between updates means that there’s nothing interesting going on. It’s still 34-20. This is an extremely boring half, especially after 31 points in the first. Three points in one half is truly snooze-worthy. Still, a win is a win. If the final two minutes play out like the rest of the first half, this will be a win.
Good game that could have been excellent if the second half matched the first. Great pick by Qier Hall to end the game though.