Rattlers look to end losing streak versus archrival

The storied rivalry of the Florida Classic XXVI will look to add another chapter to the book, as the Florida A&M University Rattlers will take on the Bethune-Cookman College Wildcats Saturday, at the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium. The game is set for a 3:30 p.m. kickoff.

The 59th match-up between the in-state rivals is a game deeply rooted in history, as the rivalry dates back to 1925. The Rattlers won their first collegiate game ever against the Wildcats back in 1925, and lead the all-time series count at 43-14-1. The odds however, are leaning in the favor of the Wildcats. BCC has claimed the last three victories, including last season’s 58-52 overtime heartbreaker.

A lot is at stake for the Rattlers in the highly anticipated season finale. The Rattlers, at 5-5 on the season (4-3 in the MEAC,) hope to emerge victorious in an attempt to complete their first winning season since 2002. Coach Carter hopes to reverse the losing streak, as well as finish his first season with a winning record; beginning a solid start and bright future for “The Carter Era,” at FAMU.

“He’s done nothing but good since he’s been here,” said receiver Aubrey Parrish of his coach. “I see nothing but good in his future here.”

Senior running back Rashard Pompey also has some business to tend to in his last performance in the orange and green, coming off of a record-setting home finale, in which compiled the second highest single-game rushing yards (265) in school history. His momentous performance in the North Carolina A&T game also launched him over the 1,000 yard rushing mark for his senior year (1,010,) and placed him at third-place all-time in career rushing yards at FAMU (2,921.) In Saturday’s game, Pompey needs 79 yards to become only the third player in FAMU history to have rushed for 3,000 yards in his career.

“They’ve beat us every year I’ve been here. There’d be nothing better than to end our season with a win over BCC,” said Pompey. “I’m more focused on getting the victory than the yards.”

This game is also huge for the seniors on the team. With losses in the past three seasons, no one on FAMU’s active roster has ever tasted victory over their archrivals.

“Everybody’s excited to close the season out with BCC,” said senior running back Chris Daniels. “I know we can be victorious if everyone plays to their potential and executes.”

Look for the Rattlers to employ the use of active quarterbacks Albert Chester and Josh Driscoll to secure a win at all costs.

For the Rattlers to be successful, the running game must be in top gear in order to open up the passing game. Both quarterbacks will likely look to their favorite deep-threat target Roosevelt Kiser for big plays in the game. This should be nothing new for Kiser, as the junior receiver has compiled 678 receiving yards for the season and notched five touchdown catches.

The Rattlers defense will have their job cut out for them this weekend as the Wildcats, at 7-3 (also 4-3 in the MEAC) have put up some big team numbers as a team all season. In team totals, the Wildcats have nearly doubled the Rattlers total in rushing yards on the season (2411-1261), as well as in points-per-game (36.1-17).

With a lot at stake, historically as well as in the current season, the Rattlers travel to Orlando with an attempt to complete the 2005 centennial season with a victory.

“Throughout this season, we’ve persevered and been through a lot,” said Parrish. No matter the outcome, the team can leave with their heads high and be proud of their 2005 season. “We came out and played well this season,” said Pompey. “I had fun here, playing Rattler football.”

Contact Reginald Snowden at famuansports@hotmail.com