Rejuvenated Rattlers to face Tigers

FAMU has made a habit of winning close, come-from-behind games. Two weeks ago, a blocked field goal return by safety Levy Brown and linebacker Julian Worley late in the game gave FAMU (3-2) a 10-7 win. Saturday, the Rattlers came from eight points down in the fourth quarter to beat Delaware State 15-14.

“I think winning those types of games bring a team together,” linebacker Shedrick Copeland said. “Nobody pointed fingers when we were struggling the past two games. For us to stick together and pull through these two games is a good sign for us.”

When the Rattlers travel to Indianapolis Saturday to take on Jackson State (2-3, 2-0 Southwestern Athletic Conference), the offense will likely be in better shape than it has been the last two games. Quarterback Ben Dougherty is expected to start after injuring his right shoulder three weeks ago. Running back Devvin Richardson and offensive lineman Fletcher Williams, both injured for the first five games of the season, will see significant playing time.

“I couldn’t say I’m 100 percent right now, but I’m about 90 percent,” Williams said. “This is my first week of doing everything with the team, so we’ll see how healthy I really am.”

Although FAMU managed to beat Tennessee State two weeks ago without Dougherty, the quarterback had to enter in the second half of last week’s game to lead the Rattlers to victory.

While the offense has struggled with putting points on the board, the defense is playing its best stretch of football. FAMU gave up just one touchdown to a Tennessee State team that scored 44 points on Jackson State. The unit followed that game up by allowing just seven points Saturday while holding an offense based on running the ball to 148 rushing yards.

“The coaches said it was going to be on the defense,” defensive end Sean Kelly said. “We knew the offense would struggle until Ben came back. We understood that.”

This week FAMU goes up against a Jackson State team which has not lived up to its preseason expectations. The Tigers have an excellent passing attack, led by All-Conference quarterback Robert Kent, who threw for over 3,300 yards and 31 touchdowns last season, but has struggled so far this year.

“Jackson State can throw the ball, there’s no question about that,” coach Billy Joe said. “They have an excellent quarterback and two receivers who can catch the ball extremely well. They can wreak havoc on your secondary.”

Joe is referring to All-Conference receiver Timothy Manning and Chris Jones. Manning and Jones combined for over 110 catches last season.

After Saturday, the Rattlers will spend the rest of the season on their Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference farewell tour. All but one of the remaining seven games are on the road.

Kevin Fair can be reached at