It was more than just a typical home opener for Rattlers wide receiver Willie Hayward.
Closing out the game with three big grabs, this 6-foot-4 inch Miami-bred junior helped change the game’s momentum for the Florida A&M University offense.
Hayward hauled in six catches for 114 yards; his longest reception was a 44-yarder.
His crucial two-point conversion grab brought the Rattlers within three points. Hayward gave the Bragg Memorial Stadium crowd a dazzling performance.
Q: Talk to me about your mindset during the two-point conversion near the end of the game.
Hayward: It was critical points we had to have being in the fourth quarter. I just knew I had to do the best to my ability to catch the ball. And that’s just what I did.
Q: Was there any extra motivation before playing tonight’s game?
Hayward: Not letting my team down. I used that as my motivation.
Q: Coming into the game, I know if I was put in the position to make plays and help my team win – that’s just what I was going to do. With a 2-2 record how do you feel with another win under your belt?
Hayward: A win is always good. We came up with the win 21-25. I expected to beat them more, but we satisfied with the win. Next week, we’ll try to get better.
Q: The Atlanta Classic is coming up this week. What can we expect from you?
Hayward: The same thing. I try to get better and better each week. More offense production, more catches, more yards. Just doing my part.
Q:You’re known to be a flashy player. Was there any extra pressure from your coaches before coming out tonight?
Hayward: Well, they always try to put the extra pressure on me because I usually talk a lot. They tell me to back it up. But I used that as motivation. Also, to come out here and know I have to play to the best of my ability. Although the offense struggled in the first half, redshirt junior quarterback Albert Chester II still found a way to lead the team to victory.
He completed 16 of 26 passes for 187 yards.
Chester also rushed for 60 yards. His touchdown run in the fourth quarter closed the deficit to five points.
The Rattlers trailed 21-18 after Chester hit Hayward for a two- point conversion.
Chester and Hayward’s on field chemistry helped propel FAMU to a win.
Q: Going into the fourth quarter what was the team’s mindset?
Chester: We knew we had to make plays and put points on the board. It was a close game. We always have a chance to win in a close game.
Q: What can the team work on to improve their offense to get them going a little earlier?
Chester: Spend more time watching tapes. We always have flat starts. We just need to find a way to get us started and carry us throughout the game sooner.
Q: How do you think your return helped the team?
Chester: I’m not even sure. It wasn’t planned to take me out at first. Coach just wanted me to sit out and get a breather. It was surprising and I was glad to get in. Yeah, I was glad.
Q: What are the keys to success as a team against Tennessee State next week?
Chester: We had four fumbles this game and other errors on offense. We have to make sure we improve those things. Taking drives and scoring. We just need to stop stalling and put points on the board earlier.