Redshirt-freshman quarterback Austin Trainor had the opportunity to prove his worth to the Florida A&M football team in its 22-19 overtime win against the North Carolina A&T Aggies Saturday.
Trainor, who played his high school career at North Florida Christian, got his first start of the season due to “personal issues” with the Rattler’s regular starter, redshirt-sophomore Martin Ukpai.
Trainor responded by completing 16 of 35 passing attempts for 157 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. The touchdown pass was an eight-yard bullet to redshirt-junior wide receiver Kevin Elliot, on the team’s opening possession.
He had several opportunities for more completions and touchdowns in his debut, as three potential touchdown passes were dropped by three different receivers.
Another strong performance from senior running back Philip Sylvester helped Trainor in his collegiate debut. As a result, the Rattlers held the ball for 38:32 in the contest.
Sylvester rushed for a game-high 110 yards and one touchdown on 32 carries, and extended his streak of 100-yard rushing games to four. His 15-yard touchdown run in overtime sealed the game after an Aggie field goal.
The Rattlers’ defense limited the Aggies to 60 rushing yards after allowing a combined 354 yards in its previous two outings. The leading rusher for the Aggies was junior running back Mike Mayhew, who had 31 yards on eight carries.
The pass defense continued to hold strong after allowing only 255 in the past two games. Sophomore linebacker Brandon Hepburn contributed two interceptions, as the defense limited senior quarterback George Hines to 156 passing yards.
North Carolina A&T (1-9, 1-6 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) jumped out to an early 13-7 lead in the first quarter, after a 5-yard touchdown run by Hines.
The Rattlers rallied back in the third quarter with two field goals from junior place kicker Trevor Scott. The field goals tied the game at 16, where it remained until the end of regulation.
The win was a significant step towards the MEAC championship. The Rattlers have only two games remaining before the season is over, unless they win the rest of their games.
If the team wins its remaining two games against the Hampton University Pirates and the current top-seeded Bethune-Cookman University Wildcats, then they will win the MEAC and earn a post-season berth.
The Rattlers’ next game will be Saturday, senior night, against the Pirates at 3 p.m. in Bragg Memorial Stadium. Hampton comes into the game with a 5-4 record (4-2 in the MEAC).
The game can also be viewed on Famcast at www.famu.edu/famcast.
No players or coaches were available for interviews for this article.