The No. 1 ranked Florida A&M Rattler’s remain undefeated in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference after nearly a shutout performance against the No. 9 seeded Morgan State Bears in a 38-3 romping behind the outstanding performance of “Mr. Football” Deshawn Smith, finishing with 116 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown.
This victory for the Rattlers marks their fifth win in a row, giving the team its first winning season since 2011, standing 6-2 overall and 5-0 in the conference.
Head coach Willie Simmons knew he needed to re-establish his rushing game going into this matchup with Morgan State, considering the depth they have at the running back position. When discussing how Smith has followed the ‘next man up’ mantra and stepped up for the team in this game, Simmons says it’s a testament to his patience and work ethic.
“There’s only one Mr. Football walking around these halls and that’s [Deshawn] Smith, the talent has always been there, he’s just a guy it took a little while to learn the system and he’s a product of waiting his time.
“Bishop’s been banged up with an ankle injury and Ricky has been banged up with a knee injury. Devin coming back from his concussion, and guess who the next man up is, [Deshawn] Smith and all he’s done is make the most of his opportunities and he works as hard as anybody.”
This is the second game of the year where Smith has rushed the ball into the 100-yard category, the first coming against North Carolina Central, where he tallied a season-high 152 yards on 20 carries.
When Smith was asked about the ability it took to be able to transition into Rattler football, going from being the main contributor of a team to part of a system that requires more than one rusher to thrive in the offense, he mentioned how it was ‘humbling’ to be a part of this new game scheme.
“My story as Mr. Football, pretty much going from starting and everything, running all the touchdowns, it was a very humbling experience. Like I know in high school how all these boys feel, but you can’t be selfish, you got to learn how to get on your ground and wait your turn and keep fighting cause the game of football is going to make you into a man, mold you into a man.”
The Rattler’s were on the verge of another shutout at Bragg Stadium until the Bears’ scored in the final period of play with a field goal at the end of the game when the game was out of reach.
FAMU’s defense played a huge part in the lopsided game, with the crippling “Orange Crush” defense having a field day when it came to play, holding the Bears to zero points throughout most of the entire game. Linebacker Elijah Richardson provided insight on the defensive game plan and what drives their success to winning the championship at hand.
“We got a great group of coaches that prepare us well, good game plan, and we come out hungry every single day. There’s a lot of talk around the conference, school, and the city about FAMU and we really haven’t done nothing yet, so until they put that ring on our fingers…we hungry.”
Next week the Rattler’s travel to Washington D.C. to play the Howard Bison’s (3-4), where a victory in this game claims them their first MEAC championship since 2010.