The Rattlers, led by senior running back Philip Sylvester, battled back after a rough first half against the Tigers.
Battling back after a rough first half is a theme head coach Joe Taylor said he wants to carry through the end of the season.
“I’m just proud of these guys because they just have a lot of resiliency,” he said. “That’s character, moving forward. We have a theme on the sidelines, ‘Play the next play.’ That kept us going.”
The Rattlers (3-3, 2-1 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) opened the first half of the game against Savannah State much like they opened the start of the season.
Despite glimpses of near-brilliance, like a 69-yard Sylvester run, the team was unable to gather real momentum.
The first half of Florida A&M’s season functioned the same way.
The Rattlers dismantled the Howard University Bison and won a close game against the Delaware State Hornets, but suffered shutouts at the hands of Miami and South Carolina State and could not overcome Tennessee State in the Atlanta Classic.
“We said, ‘Play each play and what you think should happen will happen,'” Taylor said at halftime of the Savannah State game. “They’re not just going to give it to us.”
Redshirt-sophomore quarterback Martin Ukpai said only leading the winless Savannah State University Tigers by 10 at halftime was not ideal, but winning was the primary objective.
Taylor stuck with Ukpai despite early offensive struggles and the team turned in a solid second half performance to shutout the Tigers, winning 31-0.
“Obviously we were making mistakes,” Ukpai said. “I knew we had to just come out and just start executing our plays. We had to come out with intensity. We responded well.”
The Rattlers are still very much in the mix for at MEAC title after South Carolina State went down over the weekend to the Bethune-Cookman University Wildcats, 14-0.
The Rattlers will face the new leaders of the MEAC Nov. 20 in the annual Florida Classic.