FAMU Football wins homecoming game


The Florida A&M football team improved their record to 4-6 overall and 4-3 in the MEAC after an exhilarating 22-21 win over the North Carolina Central Eagles Saturday afternoon.

The win snapped a two-game losing streak for the Rattlers and gave Coach Earl Holmes a win in his head-coaching debut. It also punctuated an eventful 125th anniversary homecoming at FAMU.

Damien Fleming returned to the starting lineup with a strong performance, completing 29 of his 41 passes for 270 yards and just one interception. Travis Harvey led the team with 11 receptions for 120 yards.

The Rattlers racked up 387 total yards and 21 first downs but struggled to score touchdowns once again. The team couldn’t find the end zone through the air; its lone touchdown of the game would come on the ground.

Eddie Rocker led the rushing attack with 81 yards on 16 carries, and Jordan Stanley followed up with 10 yards on seven carries. Stanley would score his first collegiate touchdown and FAMU’s only touchdown of the game in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter from 1 yard out.

Senior running back Eddie Rocker was proud of how the team played Saturday.

“Even though we didn’t score as much there was a level of intensity all game,” said Rocker.

The offense struggled mightily in last week’s contest against North Carolina A&T, managing to score only a single field goal. This week a single field goal would be the difference as Chase Varnadore kicked his way into the record books by tying a school record with five field goals.

The Eagles scored first on a 16-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jordan Reid to wide reciever Jonathon Nicely and FAMU’s Chase Varnadore would score two of his five field goals in the second quarter to send NCCU into the halftime up 7-6.

The Rattlers began the third quarter with a 22 yard field goal from Varnadore, but the period would belong to the Eagles as Reid rushed for a 7 yard touchdown and Kevin Thompson returned a blocked punt 45 yards for a touchdown and a 21-9 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

A discouraging third quarter wouldn’t be enough to stop the Rattlers on homecoming though; Stanley’s 1 yard touchdown to begin the fourth quarter would bring the Rattlers within five points and set the tone for the rest of the game.

 “Even though we didn’t score as much there was a level of intensity all game,” said Rocker.

Chase Varnadore would follow by nailing two more field goals in the deciding quarter, including his longest of the game from 36 yards out.

Varnadore’s fifth field goal left two minutes remaining on the clock but it wouldn’t matter as the FAMU defense forced the Eagles to go three and out one last time.

The defense was stout once again, allowing only 11 first downs , 129 total yards, and forcing 4 turnovers. Senior LB Brandon Hepburn led the defensive charge with 10 tackles (8 solo, 2 asst).

“Acting” head coach Earl Holmes was happy to get his first win. Holmes said the team played for each other.

The Rattlers will wrap their 2012 season up next week on Sept. 17 in the Florida Blue Florida Classic in Orlando, FL against the 2012 MEAC Champion Bethune-Cookman University Wildcats.