The Florida A&M football team struggled mightily on offense against North Carolina A&T without starting quarterback Damien Fleming. The Rattlers lost 16-3 in a deciding conference game.
Head football coach Joe Taylor also announced his retirement in a pregame breakfast on Saturday. Taylor began coaching FAMU in 2008 and lead them to their first MEAC title in seven years. Taylor has been coaching football for 40 years and is one of the winningest coaches in Football Bowl Subdivision history and black college football history.
“It has been an awesome blessing coaching these last 40 years,” said Taylor.
Taylor has 233 wins and 95 losses in his head coaching career.
Derek Horne, athletic director for FAMU, said that the athletic department fully supports Taylor in his decison.
“We are proud of what coach Taylor has brought to this program,” said Horne according to FAMU Sports Information.
Larry Robinson, interim FAMU president was also proud of Taylor’s accomplishments.
“We reached some great milestones during Coach Taylor’s career,” said Robinson according to FAMU Sports Information.
Taylor will retire at the end of the season and has said he is willing to help the university in their search for a new head football coach.
FAMU outgained the Aggies in total yards 252 to 202, possessed the ball nearly 10 minutes longer and committed one less penalty, but the statistics do not portray the outcome of Saturday’s game.
The Rattlers’ defense kept them in the game, but the offense’s inability to get into the end zone proved to be the difference.
“Defensivly I thought we played well enough to win the game,” said Taylor.
Daimien Fleming’s precense was sorely missed in Saturday’s game. Senior backup quarteback Tyler Bass gave his best effort but it was not enough to over come the Aggies. Fleming will have an MRI on his non throwing shoulder Monday. Fleming’s injury is still listed as day-to-day.
NC A&T settled for two field goals in the first quarter as the Aggies were unable to get past the Rattlers’ defense to score a touchdown. FAMU would score a field goal of its own early in the second quarter from 19 yards out, heading into halftime trailing 6-3.
Both offenses looked poised for a score as they ripped off consecutive first downs during the third quarter, but neither team put points on the board.
The Aggies were able to get into FAMU territory and score another field goal early in the fourth quarter, but it was their defense on the next drive that sealed the game.
Quarterback Tyler Bass’s pass on the first down of the next drive was intercepted and returned 35 yards for a touchdown, the only touchdown of the game.
That was the only score the Aggies would need as FAMU’s offense could only muster a field goal the entire game. Although the Aggies’ defense was commendable, FAMU’s nine penalties resulting in 82 yards were a major factor in the lack of offense.
Bass started at quarterback this week, completing 26-of-36 passes for 183 yards. This was Bass’s first game starting since transferring from the University of Memphis three years ago.
Damien Fleming came in briefly during the third quarter for one series that resulted in a punt. Fleming completed his only pass of the game on first down but was brought down on a scramble on second down and sacked on third down.
Lenworth Lennon led the team in receptions with 10 catches for 64 yards, and Eddie Rocker led the rushing attack with 42 yards on 16 carries.
The Rattlers (3-6, 3-3 MEAC) return to Bragg Memorial Stadium on Saturday for homecoming to take on the North Carolina Central Eagles (6-3, 5-1 MEAC). Kickoff is at 3 p.m.