Rattlers aim to spoil Bison party

FAMU already has all the incentive needed to travel to Washington, D.C. and beat former MEAC foe Howard.

Not only is this the final time the Rattlers (4-2) will face Howard (4-1, 3-0 MEAC), not only did the Bison beat them at home last year, not only is FAMU looking to extend its first three-game winning streak of the year. There’s an even better reason to beat Howard this weekend.

The Bison have scheduled FAMU as their Homecoming opponent.

“That’s great,” linebacker Shedrick Copeland said. “We like playing in front of big crowds. It just gives us a chance to spoil somebody’s weekend.”

As for FAMU’s winning streak, the last time the team won three in a row, it followed that up by losing its final two games of the season, which ultimately cost the team a trip to the playoffs.

There are no playoffs at stake, but the thrill of spoiling Howard’s Homecoming and getting the last laugh will do just fine.

Going into Saturday’s game, the Rattlers’ momentum is at full force coming off their “best all-around performance of the season,” according to coach Billy Joe.

“We played well,” quarterback Ben Dougherty said. “We moved the ball well, and our defense came up big again. We could’ve scored more, but I still think we did a great job.”

FAMU’s healthiest offense of all season will be playing Saturday. Running back Devvin Richardson, who saw his first action of the season two weeks ago after hurting his ankle, has been slowly trying to work his way back into the offense. Joe said he feels comfortable giving Richardson at least a medium-sized workload against Howard.

“Devvin is progressing extremely well,” Joe said. “Of course we’re still in the process of working him into the offense, but he’s getting stronger with every game.”

Howard’s offense centers around the running back combination of Antoine Rutherford and Keon Coleman. Rutherford leads the team with 302 yards rushing in three games. Coleman is more of a big-play back, averaging 7.1 yards per carry. Senior linebacker Greg Spriggs leads the Bison defense with 28 tackles, two sacks and an interception.

FAMU’s defense has allowed just nine points per game in its last three games. That’s been mainly because of the play of linebackers Shedrick Copeland and Julian Worley.

“We just want to go into every game focused on what we have to do to win,” Copeland said. “We just stick to the game plan that coach [Joe] gives us, and it works. It just goes to show what a great coach Billy Joe is.”