In a game plagued by penalties, the Florida A&M football team found a way to come out with a 28-22 win in its home opener against the wildcats of Fort Valley State on Saturday.
A touchdown pass from quarterback Austin Trainor to redshirt freshman wide receiver Lenworth Lennon in the closing moments saved what would have been an opening day upset.
“We had to come out and run the two-minute offense after they had just scored on us,” Trainor said. “Everything didn’t go as planned for us, but you can’t argue with the results.”
The pass, which was intended for senior wide receiver Kevin Elliot, was batted up in the air by two wildcat defenders and grabbed by Lennon for a 68-yard touchdown scamper.
“With this being my first collegiate game and touchdown, it just feels great,” Lennon said. “I’ve never played in this type of crowd or this type of atmosphere and I just love it.”
The team escaped with the win but head coach Joe Taylor said he isn’t thrilled with the victory.
“If we don’t look at this film and say to ourselves that’s not us, then I know we’re in trouble,” Taylor said. “The bottom line is we will take the win.”
The Rattlers had 19 penalties throughout the contest, totaling for more than 200 yards.
The team started off slow, but officials were throwing flags fast.
“They really deserved to win the football game. I thought they outplayed us,” Taylor said. “Nineteen penalties; we just have to become more discipline than that.”
Defensive tackle Padric Scott injured his ankle on a chop block by a wildcat offensive lineman, but the biggest concern was the loss of concentration from the team according to Taylor.
“It was a high-low block or a chop block so I don’t know how bad he is, but the injury was 19 penalties,” Taylor said. “That’s the biggest injury.”
The Rattlers have less than a week to eliminate the number of penalties from their season opener. Most FAMU football practices have a lot of hitting drills, but Taylor said he wants to save some of the team’s energy for the next game.
“You can’t hit too much because we have two games in six days. You don’t want to leave the game on the practice field,” Taylor said.
The team acknowledged that there are corrections that need to be made in order to be successful next week.
Taylor said he wants to get footage from Hampton as soon as possible to have a film study session with the players.
“What we will see from Hampton will be the exact opposite,” said Taylor. “This team blitzed and played man coverage. Hampton is more of a cover two and seven man front type of defense.”
The Rattlers travel to Hampton, Va., to take on the pirates of Hampton University at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday night.