Head coach Billy Joe said that if he had a choice he would not play a high-quality opponent like Hampton for the Homecoming game.
As it turned out, Hampton was the ideal choice.
The Rattlers beat the Pirates 25-13 in front of 29,065 at Bragg Memorial Stadium, winning its third straight game,and its eighth straight Homecoming game.
“This was a very pivotal game, that could have turned our season around in a negative way had we lost,” Joe said.
The game was a lot more lopsided than the score indicates. The Rattlers (7-3, 5-2) dominated the Pirates (5-4, 3-2) in almost all aspects of the game. The Rattlers offense, although inconsistent at times, played a solid game.
Quarterback Casey Printers threw two first half touchdowns; a 10-yard pass to receiver Charlie Allen and a 28-yard throw to receiver Rod Miller. Printers ended the game 26-for-38 with 315 yards to go along with his two first half scores.
“We did some good things on offense but there were times where we didn’t execute,” Printers said. “But the most important thing is, we got the win.”
Freshman running back Rashard Pompey, who has been sensational since earning the starting job three weeks ago, had another great game. Pompey ran for 114 yards, including a six-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
The Rattler’s defense played its best game of the season by far, shutting down a very balanced Hampton offense. The Pirates came into this game averaging 195 yards both on the ground and in the air, but was not able to do much with the ball. The defense started the game by forcing the Pirates to go three downs and out on their first four drives. Hampton did not get a first down until late in the first quarter.
The Rattlers run defense, which has been an issue for most of the season, held one of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference’s best running teams to 104 yards and no touchdowns.”
“Everybody thinks that we can’t stop the run,” junior safety Levy Brown said. “But we showed that we are balanced on defense. We can stop the run and the pass.”
By the end of the first half, Hampton had six first downs, and had only gotten the ball into FAMU territory twice. The Pirates offense, which averages four touchdowns per game, did not get into the end zone.
“It’s all about your intensity,” senior linebacker Joe Sanders said. “We played with a lot of intensity tonight.”
The Rattlers defense also did a great job containing Hampton receiver Zuriel Smith, who led the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference in almost every receiving category coming into this game. Smith caught seven passes for 71 yards, but most of his catches and his only touchdown came in the fourth quarter, when the game was out of reach.
“I couldn’t get it going tonight,” Smith said. “They played well, but I really stopped myself.”
Next week, the Rattlers will play Troy State, their second Division I-A opponent this season. If FAMU wins its last two games, it will finish 9-3, and be in excellent position to make the playoffs.