The Florida A&M football team (2-2 overall, 2-0 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) left the Georgia Dome Saturday night frustrated after a 29-18 loss to the Tennessee State University Tigers (2-2 overall, 1-2 in the Ohio Valley Conference) in the Atlanta Football Classic.
The Tigers had previously lost to the Rattlers in eight consecutive games before they walked away victorious in their first Classic win since 2001.
Swarms of Tennessee State defenders stymied the Florida A&M offense, as the Tigers allowed a total of 24 net rushing yards in the Rattlers’ loss.
Senior offensive tackle Chris Sands said he and his teammates have to improve in order to salvage the season. He said it is important for the Rattlers to stay persistent and minimize their mistakes.
“We’re not going to let our team quit,” Sands said. “We’re going to keep going and we’re not going to quit on the season. It’s a long season ahead.”
The Tigers were able to bring the Rattlers’ ball carriers down throughout the game with ease and head coach Joe Taylor said it is an issue that needs to be addressed before the conference showdown with the South Carolina State Bulldogs (2-1 overall).
The Rattlers’ offensive line allowed 11 sacks and 13 tackles for a loss against the Tigers.
Taylor said the Tigers did a tremendous job of staying in the offensive linemen’s face all game.
“We don’t want to take anything away from their defensive line,” Taylor said. “They really put pressure on us.”
The Tigers capitalized on Florida A&M’s injury plagued offensive line.
Sophomore quarterback Martin Ukpai was sacked seven times against the Tigers and he said they caused confusion amongst the Rattlers’ offensive unit.
“It just wasn’t working out the way I wanted it to today,” Ukpai said.
The Rattlers will try to handle their miscues on offense this week in practice and Ukpai said he believes the team will be able to make the necessary adjustments.
“We just have to look back at the film and correct it,” he said.
Taylor said his offensive line has lacked cohesion early in the season, as several linemen have already missed crucial time on the field.
“We’ve had some offensive line issues, we’ve lost two guys already due to injury,” Taylor said.
The Rattlers lost 108 yards because of plays blown up behind the line of scrimmage.
Despite the loss, Taylor is confident that his players will improve their efforts in preparation for the Rattlers home opener.
Four games into the season, Taylor said the players that have stepped in for injured linemen have gotten much-needed playing time.
“The guys (linemen) that have stepped in for them are getting valuable experience and playing time,” Taylor said.
The Rattlers will face the Bulldogs Saturday at Bragg Memorial Stadium. The kickoff will be 6 p.m. and it is South Carolina State’s first conference game of the season.