The 2016 Florida Classic has come to an end and will leave a bitter taste in the mouths of the Florida A&M football team as they head into their offseason.
The Rattlers were defeated 39-19 by the rival Bethune-Cookman Wildcats to end the season. B-CU came into the game with its worst record in seven years (3-5, 3-3 MEAC) but were still able to secure its sixth straight victory in the series against the Rattlers.
FAMU struck first with an opening drive field goal to put them up 3-0, which would be their only lead of the game. The Wildcats responded with a touchdown on the following drive and never looked back.
A first quarter fumble by Ryan Stanley ensued on the Rattlers next possession and the Wildcats took advantage. The Wildcats recovered the fumble and their offense capitalized shortly after with a three yard touchdown run to put them up 14-3.
Things started to look ugly after the Wildcats forced a three and out on the Rattlers next possession. After a botched punt, the Wildcats started its next drive in good field position which resulted in another Wildcat touchdown.
With the Wildcats up 21-3 in the second quarter, the Rattlers tried to make things interesting. Sophomore running back Devin Bowers took a direct snap, faked the run and lobbed up a short pass to tight end Desmond Noird who ran in for a 27-yard touchdown.
The Rattlers had a few chances to get back in the game after a pair of turnovers by the Wildcats. Senior defensive back, Jacques Bryant, had an interception late in the second and recovered a fumble in the third quarter. The offense failed to create any points with either turnover and both ensuing drives resulted in punts.
B-CU pulled away in the fourth and put up three touchdowns in the final quarter to seal the deal.
Although the Rattlers season didn't end in the most ideal fashion, there were plenty of positives in the second half of the season they will look to build on in the offseason.
After an 0-4 start, things started to change when redshirt freshman Ryan Stanley stepped in at quarterback. "I'm definitely disappointed, I wanted to cap this season off with a win," Stanley said. "We'll come back next year and learn from our mistakes, hit the weight room, come back stronger and tear it up next year."
Bryant, who played his last game in a Rattler uniform expressed his disappointment after the game but has confidence the team is headed in the right direction.
"I wanted this real bad, it was my last go round so I tried to play with no regrets. I'm 100 percent positive they'll be better next year and I know they can be great."
With only 12 seniors on the team this season, the Rattlers will have most of its team return including quarterback, Stanley who looks to have a promising future with FAMU.
"It's disappointing to to finish the season on a losing note, but we'll be back and we have a bright and promising future ahead of us," head coach Alex Wood said.
The Rattlers wrap up their season with a 4-7 record and a 4-4 record in the MEAC, the team's’ best since 2012. Coach Wood is also looking for a promising future for the young team, "We've got a chance to be a really good football team and I'm excited about the development of our young guys."