The Florida A&M defense allowed 362 yards of total offense in a 17-12 victory against the Hampton University Pirates Saturday at Bragg Memorial Stadium.
The Rattlers’ secondary allowed 299 yards passing, which is the highest total allowed through the air this season.
The Florida A&M run defense continued to improve as it allowed only 63 total rushing yards.
Despite inconsistency, the pass defense showed up in key moments as senior cornerback Curtis Holcomb caught two interceptions. He intercepted one pass late in the third as Hampton threatened to score, and the other on the final play of the game to seal the victory.
Redshirt-sophomore safety John Ojo expects to use this experience to help him get ready for the Wildcats.
“(Saturday) we saw one of the better passing teams that we’ve seen all season,” Ojo said. “They were a great practice team to have in order for us to prepare for Bethune next week.”
Hampton’s head coach Don Rose acknowledged that his team knew the defensive pressure would be on from the game’s opening kick.
“We knew they would blitz about 78 percent of the time, so we tried to set up screens and stretch plays to set them off balance,” Rose said. “They were just too quick for that today.”
The win keeps the Rattlers in position to win the Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference championship. Florida A&M head coach Joe Taylor said he and his team are excited about that possibility.
“I told the team how proud I was that given the way the season started, with a lot of poisonous arrows that they didn’t allow to penetrate their well-being, that they kept fighting,” Taylor said. “I know the sponsors will be excited because, heading to Orlando, this game will decide the MEAC championship.”
The Rattlers look to add to their five-game win streak. Senior running back Philip Sylvester is looking to extend a streak of his own. He has rushed for at least 100 yards in five consecutive games.
The Rattlers (7-3, 6-1 in the MEAC) will play their final game of the regular season against the Wildcats (10-0, 7-0 in the MEAC) Saturday in Orlando. The Wildcats defeated the Howard University Bison 35-20 Saturday.
The game will be shown on ESPN classic and can also be viewed on Famcast at www.famu.edu/famcast.