With one conference win underneath his belt, head coach Willie Simmons seems to have the Rattlers headed in the right direction as they look to remain undefeated in conference play against North Carolina Central.
Florida A&M will matchup against a team who has produced one of the top records in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference over the last few seasons and has recently given the Rattlers trouble in closing moments of games.
Prior to 2015, FAMU owned the better record of the rivalry recording a 6-0-1 record against NCCU, which rejoined the MEAC in 2011.
After winning the first league encounter between the two in nearly a blowout win, 31-10 in 2011, the rivalry began to take its’ turn, as the Rattlers squeezed out a 22-21 win in 2012. The two teams did not go head-to-head for the next two seasons due to the MEAC rotating the schedule
But in the 2015 season, the rivalry seemed to have changed courses as the Eagles have won the last three games in the series in the final quarter.
The Rattlers came up short in the 2015 season allowing Central to kick a field goal with 15 seconds remaining. The following season the Rattlers allowed the Eagles to score on their final two possessions of the game.
And just this past season the Eagles drove the length of the field during the last minutes of the game to snatch yet another win.
Even though Simmons is new to the rivalry, he knows the challenge won’t be easy.
“We know there’s a huge task at hand which is playing a football team that is playing really good ball right now and we know we have to clean up some things that we’ve done in the last few weeks in the form of penalties and turnovers. If we can do that, we feel like we can give ourselves a chance to go in and start a winning streak.
Although junior quarterback, Ryan Stanley only threw for 166 yards while completing 14 of his 20 passes against Savanah State, he has been electrifying since the start of the season as he moves up to the 6th spot on the career passing list at FAMU with 4,371 yards, passing Pat Bonner one-year mark of 4,148
Stanley has completed most of his passing yards this season to Chad Hunter, a redshirt junior wide-receiver from Tallahassee, as the two have seemed to for great chemistry
“They kind of trust one another, that’s carried on all the way through now,” Said Simmons. Chad wasn’t in the game on that last play against Jackson State, had he’d been in the game Ryan would have thrown a fade to him. But that’s the trust that they have for each other.”
“Chads our leader, he’s the guy we normally look for to make big plays.”
Redshirt sophomore Bishop Bonnett led a 28-point second half scoring surge to lift the Rattlers out of a 7-3 halftime hole, after a first-half struggle on offense against Savannah State as he rushed for a total of 89 yards and a score
Coach Simmons ended the press conference on a high note, giving his thoughts on how well Bonnett played.
“He (Bonnett) probably has the biggest heart on this football team. He’s a guy that comes from humble beginnings out of Jacksonville. Anyone who knows Jacksonville knows the area that many of those kids come out of…he has enough motivation to make himself a great football player,” said Simmons. “His work ethic is really what makes him the player that he is.”