The Florida A&M University football team lost their second consecutive game by just seven points Saturday afternoon, falling short to the Howard Bison 17-10.
The loss to Howard marks the first time FAMU has lost to the Bison in back-to-back seasons since 2003 and 2004.
The Rattlers looked to be poised for another offensive explosion after an 80-yard touchdown drive in the 1st quarter, but Lenworth Lennon’s seven yard reception from Damien Fleming would be the Rattler’s only touchdown of the game.
Both teams’ defense were able to keep the opposition’s offense contained for much of the first half, but the Howard Bison would take a 10-7 lead into the half after a 48-yard field goal and 31-yard touchdown pass from Howard QB Greg McGhee with just one minute remaining in the second quarter.
Chase Varnadore’s, 34-yard field goal tied the game at 10 early in the third quarter, pitting the Rattlers in an airtight game down the stretch for the third week in a row.
The Rattlers hoped to display some of the same toughness that enabled a close win over Delaware State two weeks ago as opposed to last week’s disappointing loss against Southern University, but a 42-yard punt return by Howard WR Brandon Flanagan late in the third quarter wouldn’t help the cause.
The punt return by Flanagan set the Bison up at the FAMU 14-yard line, and a one yard QB run by McGhee would put Howard up 17-10 for good.
Damien Fleming and the FAMU offense didn’t go down easily, as they drove down the field 96 yards to the Howard six yard line in the fourth quarter.
Fleming, who passed for 228 yards in the game, completed nine passes on the final drive but his final pass intended for WR Michael Ethridge would fall incomplete as time ran out.
“There were plays there for us throughout the game but we just failed to execute,” said QB Damien Fleming. “Howard did a good job of pressuring me and made key plays when needed, that was the biggest difference”
Both teams’ performance was comparable, totaling 200+ yards for the game with 16 first downs each, but the disparity would come on the ground.
Although Howard RB Terrence Leffall wouldn’t score a touchdown, his 104 rushing yards would prove to be the difference in the game, nearly tripling the 37 rushing yards FAMU had collectively.
The Rattlers return home to Bragg Stadium next week to take on the Savannah State Tigers.