The Florida A&M Rattlers (1-5, 1-1 MEAC) earned their first win of the season and first conference win against the winless the Tigers of Savannah State University (0-6, 0-3 MEAC) 24-14.
Rattlers head coach Earl Holmes reflected on the teams win.
“Overall I thought the guys started fast and I was very impressed with the offense came out and played with a lot of energy, I thought the defense and special teams played lights out,” Holmes said.
The beginning of the game was all too familiar as the Rattlers couldn’t move the ball. After the Rattlers first drive, the Tigers were able to score a touchdown from sophomore running back Richard Williams II on a 10-yard rush.
After the Tigers scoring drive, the Rattlers wanted to do something different as redshirt sophomore backup quarterback Carson Royal checked into the game.
Coach Holmes explained what exactly led to the change.
“We just wanted to give the team something to think about,” Holmes said.
A few drives later SSU recovered a Royal fumbles on a quarterback draw. On SSU ensuing drive Williams II fumbled, but it was recovered by SSU setting up a missed field goal leaving the score 7-0.
The Rattlers next drive set the tone for remainder of the game as senior quarterback Damien Fleming connected with senior wide receiver Dewayne Harvey for a 35-yard completion.
The Rattlers set up in the shotgun when the trickery began. Slick ball handling by freshman wide receiver Brandon Norwood as he came across the formation, and pitched it to redshirt senior wide receiver Curtric “Spiffy” Evans for the double reverse pass to Fleming.
The Rattlers touchdown evened the score at 7-7.
The score made Fleming the first FAMU quarterback since 1991 to catch and throw for a touchdown in the same game. Tony Ezell was the last quarterback to do so in the 1991 Florida Classic against Bethune-Cookman University.
“There’s a first for everything,” Fleming said. “We’ve been working on the play since Tuesday and it’s been working.”
The next drive produced more points as sophomore tight end Zachary Webster caught a 19-yard touchdown from Fleming.
Webster recalls his day and how he approaches the game.
”Everytime the ball was thrown my way I just tried to make a play,” Webster said.
With less than two minutes left in the first half, the Rattlers came up huge as Jules Dornevil intercepts a pass at the SSU 16-yard line.
After a Fleming interception and a Tigers punt, Fleming found redshirt senior Casey Glines for a 56-yard touchdown to close out the half.
Coming out of the halftime, the Tigers were unable to mount a response after missing a 30-yard field goal.
Going in to the fourth quarter the Tigers scored on five-yard pass from freshman quarterback Tino Smith II to freshman wide receiver Derek Kirkland with 7:58 left on the clock.
With the score 21-14, the Tigers would not get any closer.
The Rattlers defense came up big, ending the Tigers drive that could’ve potentially tied the game.
The Rattlers want to continue the snowball effect this weekend on the road as they travel to the nation’s capital to face Howard University for their Homecoming. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.