On Sunday afternoon, The Florida A&M Rattlers (6-1) were able to pull off another nail-biting win, this time over fellow Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) rival North Carolina A&T (4-2) by a score of 34-31, also marking FAMU’s first overtime game of the season.
In a game that relied on both teams’ key players to make crucial plays down the stretch, redshirt freshman and Tallahassee native, Resean McKay delivered a 22-yard touchdown strike in overtime to fellow wide receiver
Marcus Williams, which stuck pandemonium into all 12,061 fans at Bragg Memorial Stadium.
In the team’s post-game press conference, FAMU head coach Willie Simmons seemed to be riding high after the Rattlers secured their sixth consecutive win.
“(I’m) extremely happy to be here at 6-1, it feels really good being 4-1 in conference play, and it feels even better to beat A&T (North Carolina A&T) in overtime,” Simmons said.
In a game that was rivaled with emotions, dating back to the Rattler’s 22-21 win in Greensboro, NC, over the Aggies last season, the hatred on both sides was more than evident.
With the revenge factor looming over Bragg Memorial Stadium, the friction between the two teams led to a pregame scuffle between the opposing coaches, which ultimately led to another brawl that broke out, as both teams were making their way to their respective locker rooms at the conclusion of the second quarter.
Coach Simmons expressed his displeasure with the way both teams conducted themselves.
“You hate to see that kind of stuff because that’s not what this game is about, it’s about doing it on the field between the whistles,” Simmons said.
Although tempers that did flare-up, the Rattlers were able to stay composed despite losing their starting quarterback Ryan Stanley midway through the third quarter after he suffered an apparent injury to his throwing shoulder. After careful evaluation by the FAMU medical staff, Stanley’s injury came out to be an AC sprain.
As McKay took advantage of his moment, Coach Simmons explained why he was comfortable with putting McKay under center later into the game.
“We have all the faith in Rasean (McKay) and that’s why we decided to go in with him after Ryan (Stanley) got injured,” Simmons said.
Marcus Williams who caught the game-winning touchdown was ecstatic after beating the reigning Black College football national champions.
“That’s big, two years straight to beat the number one team,” Williams said.
Not to be outdone by their offense, FAMU’s defense was able to step up to the challenge.
The Rattler defense held the Aggies conference-leading rushing attack below their season average of 235 rushing yards per game, as they only allowed 180 rushing yards to the Aggies.
They also held conference leading rusher Jah-Maine Martin below his season average of 135 yards per game, down to only 71 yards on the ground.
The standout defensive performance is even more significant considering that FAMU defensive coordinator Ralph Street was ejected from the game at halftime.
FAMU safety Terry Jefferson spoke on how the defense had to come together in support of their coach.
“At the end of the day, we just had to bite down for the man who’s running this defense, as a team we decided to come together and play for our coach,” Jefferson exclaimed.
With Sunday’s win over the Aggies, FAMU now finds themselves in unfamiliar territory, as for the first time in 10 years they find themselves ranked in the latest Associated Press FCS Top 25 poll, and currently sit at the 20th spot.
The Rattlers (6-1, 4-0 MEAC) will look to get their fifth straight conference win next week (seventh win overall), as they go on the road to Baltimore, Maryland to take on Morgan State University (1-6, 1-3 MEAC) at Hughes Memorial Stadium next Saturday at 3 P.M.