With perfect weather conditions, an undefeated opponent, and over 20,000 in attendance, the stage was set for Florida A&M University’s football team to give their fans just what they wanted—a showdown.
Saturday, Oct. 14, the Rattlers faced off against their toughest opponent of the season—the North Carolina A&T Aggies. Ranked 15th in the Football Championship Subdivision poll in stats and loaded with the best offense and defense in their conference, the Aggies did not come to lose.
The first quarter showed promise for fans on both sides. Florida A&M and North Carolina A&T both scored on their opening drives. The Aggies were the first to score with a drive capped off by a 1-yard touchdown run by redshirt junior Marquell Cartwright.
After a 45-yard kick return from, junior defensive back Orlando McKinley, FAMU made a drive of their own ending with a 13-yard score by junior running back Devin Bowers.
With six minutes and nine seconds left in the first, the MEAC’s top-ranked quarterback Lamar Raynard threw just his second interception of the season. The turnover set the Rattlers up inside the red zone.
On the ensuing possession, Bowers stretched his arm over the pylon for what looked to be his second touchdown of the day. The play was confirmed to be a fumble instead, when the ball bounced into the back of the end zone for a North Carolina A&T touch back.
Following a balanced first fifteen minutes, the Aggies produced a second quarter for the books. A&T scored three touchdowns in the quarter to ensure a 28-7 lead at halftime. Lamar Raynard recorded two 14-yard touchdown passes and tacked another four-yard score. The Aggies assembled 159 yards of offense and held the Rattlers to just 29.
The Rattlers opened the second half with yet another outstanding return from McKinley along with a 1-yard touchdown run from Devin Bowers. The quarter remained stagnant until Ryan Stanley threw his second interception of the day resulting in an A&T field goal. The quarterback was benched for the remainder of the quarter.
In reference to the quarterback and the staff’s third quarter decision, Head Coach Alex Wood stated, “We planned it that way last week and this week to give him a little of a rest.”
He continued, “That was probably a good time.”
The Rattlers added on another score in the fourth, but the triumphant effort was just too late to overcome the deficit.
Stanley returned in the fourth to throw a 38-yard bomb to Kareem Smith to bring the evening’s final score to 31-20.
“It’s just the little things, whether it’s the drives we didn’t finish out or turnovers, the game just didn’t go as we wanted,” stated the sophomore quarterback. “We made some important plays and had some good ones. We got to look on film and correct our wrongs.”
Devin Bowers voiced his opinions in the post conference after being asked how the team moves forward after two major back-to-back loses
“As a team we just have to come out stronger than our opponent, each game is a lesson learned, so we’re not going to hold our heads low because there is still plenty football to be played.”
After the tough homecoming loss, the Rattlers plan to finish the season with a different outcome in their four remaining games.
North Carolina A&T remains undefeated moving to (7-0) of the season and (4-0) in the conference. If they continue at this rate of play, the conference championship will be theirs to win.