In the Rattlers homecoming game which saw over 26,000 fans in attendance against Norfolk State University on Saturday afternoon, Florida A&M University was able to get a 17-0 shut out win, (their first since 2000) thanks to their stellar defense.
In the first half alone, the tenacity from the Rattlers defense forced Spartans quarterback Juwan Carter to complete only nine of his 21 passes for 125 yards and three interceptions-Antonio Miller, Elijah Daniels, and Orlando McKinley each grabbing one INT.
With the constant pressure from the Rattlers defense all game long and the work that they put in throughout the week, this shut out did not come as a surprise to Daniels.
“We were hungry, and when the defense came onto the field we wanted to eat. It started with just the film study and the game plans we get and everybody just bought in as a unit, all the way from the D-line (Defensive Line), to the linebackers, to the secondary. We did a great job of just buying in and coming together,” Daniels said.
Although FAMU was only holding a 3-0 lead over the Spartans going into the fourth quarter, junior quarterback Ryan Stanley was able to march the Rattlers offense down the field and find Chad Hunter in the end zone for a 13-yard touchdown pass with 9:59 remaining to push their lead up to 10-0.
With the game coming to a close in the fourth quarter, Bishop Bonnett was able to find his way into the end zone with 2:34 remaining and put the finishing touches on the game.
With their defense making key stops all game and the offense struggling in the first half, Bonnett knew the Rattlers offense had to start producing as well.
“We had no choice but to do better, we couldn’t keep putting our defense in bad situations. So we knew as an offense that when we scored, the game was over, Bonnett said.
Although FAMU didn’t win in spectacular fashion against the Spartans, coach Simmons knows that a great defense is key to a great team.
“Every great team plays great defense, and the offense is not always going to be strong. Coming into the game Norfolk (Norfolk State University) had the leading defense in the conference statistically, so we knew it was going to be a tall challenge to consistently score points and move the ball,” Simmons said.
The Rattlers defense indeed played a great game as they only allowed 291 total yards to the Spartans offense and held them to only five for 14 on third down conversions.
FAMU (4-2, 3-0 MEAC) will go on the road next Saturday to take on North Carolina A&T (5-1, 2-1 MEAC) and the game will be broadcast on ESPN3 at 1 p.m.