Rattlers slither to a win despite defensive errors

Not even light, wind or rain could keep the Florida A&M Rattlers (1-2 overall, 1-1 MEAC) from their first victory of the season, a 31-23 win over the Howard University Bison (0-2 overall, 0-2 MEAC) in front of 6,035 fans Saturday afternoon.

FAMU opened the game with a 10-play, 56-yard touchdown drive. Redshirt sophomore running back Anthony Edwards made his presence known early with a two-yard touchdown plunge that put the visiting Rattlers on the board first. Neither the weather nor the Bison defense could slow down Edwards. The Atlanta native carried 29 times for 124 yards and two touchdowns.

“He’s a great back, and he takes a lot of pressure off the receivers as well as the quarterback. I think a couple times I saw a few people scared to hit him because he runs so powerful,” said senior Roosevelt Kiser, who led all receivers with nine catches for 107 yards and a touchdown.

The Orange and Green offense also took to the air as redshirt junior quarterback Albert Chester II returned to the reins.

Chester, who missed last week’s game with a left hand injury, completed 18 of 27 passes for 213 yards, a touchdown and one interception.

Bolstered by Kiser and Edwards’ performances, FAMU received additional help. Willie Hayward (4), Ronald Wright (3) and Derek Williams (2, one touchdown) all caught passes.

Solid plays from the offensive line set the tone for the entire unit. “You’ve got to have all 11 players on the field playing together at the same time, or nothing is going to work at all. When we’re all clicking, it makes it a whole lot easier,” Edwards said.

FAMU’s miscues provided opportunities for Howard to score. Officials flagged the Rattlers on a Bison punt attempt, and the home team took advantage. Sophomore quarterback Martin Decembert, a Miami native, connected with junior wide receiver Stephane Assoumou on a 13-yard touchdown pass.A Dennis Wiehberg extra point tied the game 7-7 with one

minute and 57 seconds left in the first quarter.A touchdown run by senior Keon Coleman, who carried 12 times for 92 yards, put the Bison ahead and Howard led FAMU 14-10 at the break.

The Rattlers regained the lead in the third quarter but the Bison would not quit. Howard pulled within one on a 31-yard scamper by senior quarterback Will Blanden with eight minutes and 35 seconds to play. This was as close as the contest would get as Edwards scored his second touchdown, a 25-yarder that provided the final margin.

Linebacker Vernon Wilder paced the defense with 11 tackles, one tackle for loss, two pass breakups and a sack. Wilder said the continued development of the young defense is important.

“We’ve got six seniors on the whole team and one (senior) starter on defense. This type of game is good for us. This was a growing game for us.”

Three turnovers, two fumbles and one interception could have cost FAMU the game. But a timely interception by freshman defensive back Michael Creary secured the Rattlers’ first win of the season.

In the home opener Saturday, the Rattlers take on the Winston Salem State University Rams (1-2) at 6 p.m.