Rattlers win home opener

Florida A&M University takes the field against Fort Valley State University. Photo by

After an upsetting loss in last weekend’s Orange Blossom Classic game, Florida A&M Football team returned home to Bragg Memorial Stadium with a dominating 34-7 victory over Fort Valley State University.

With no football being played at Bragg Memorial Stadium in over 665 days due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the FAMU football team gave its Rattler fans something to look forward to. The win over FVSU is FAMU’s seventh consecutive win at Bragg Stadium.

Head coach Willie Simmons shared the importance of the teams return to home and how it feels to give the Rattler fans something exciting to be a part of.

“Feels great to sing the schools alma mater, feels great to go up in the stands and leading the Marching 100, which has become a tradition after a win, just a great atmosphere,” Simmons said.

“Fans showed back up after a 30-minute lightning delay, which shows how excited they are about football, and as a team we want to give them something to be excited about,” he said.

The Rattlers’ offense seemed to have similar struggles from last week’s game, as freshman quarterback Junior Muratovic started the game with 2 interceptions on the team’s two opening drives. Although Muratovic struggled in the first half, he ended the game with a 14-22 completion rate, 127 yards and one touchdown.

“He is a very young guy, this is only his second college game, with very limited duty,” said Simmons. “He is going to be a phenomenal football player and we’re going to need him this year.”

Simmons also mentioned Rasean McKay and Cameron Sapp stepping up and being ready to play.

McKay started the second half for the Rattlers and gave the team a huge spark that was desperately needed. McKay led the team with a 7 play, 74-yard touchdown drive to open the second half. McKay ended the game with a 12-16 completion rate, 176 yards and one touchdown.

“I knew you weren’t going to see the last of Rasean McKay,” said Simmons. “One game doesn’t define an individual. We made the decision to start Junior and he had some struggles early, and we decided to go back to Rasean who has some more veteran leadership.”

Bishop Bonnett is another focal player that Simmons describes as a lethal player for this Rattlers offense. Bonnett leads the team in rushing yards and ended Saturday’s game with 70 yards and 1 touchdown.

Florida A&M University running back Bishop Bonnett (1) scores a touchdown during a game between Florida A&M University and Fort Valley State University. Photo by TORI LYNN SCHNEIDER/TALLAHASSEE DEMOCRAT

Bonnett has some goals of his own on how he plans to step up as a leader for this season.

“Some goals I have for the season is to win the SWAC East, the SWAC, the Celebration Bowl and have over 1,000 yards and 7 or more touchdowns,” said Bonnett. “As a leader, I just want to show the guys that if you work hard, your fruits of labor will show.” Bonnett added.

With unsteady play on the offensive side, the hounding Rattler defensive put the team on their backs once again, holding FVSU to only one touchdown and 4 of 13 conversions on 3rd down (30%). The Rattlers defense also forced 4 sacks and 2 fumbles; one was returned for a 44-yard touchdown by linebacker Nadarius Fagan.

“Week in and week out, me and my brothers on defense put in work to prepare for the opponents we face,” said defensive back BJ Bohler. “Then coming out on Saturday watching and making those same plays unfold is a great feeling,” he added.

The defense also collected two interceptions, one where BJ Bohler nearly had a 45-yard pick-6 but was stopped short of the goal line.

The Rattlers look forward to maintaining momentum as they travel to Tampa on Saturday to take on the South Florida Bulls.