Rattlers drop ball in last home game

There are times when the score of a game does not reflect a team’s performance.

This was not the case for the Florida A&M University Rattlers as they limped their way to a 59-7 loss against the Hampton Pirates in their final home game of the season.

The Rattlers were outplayed on both sides of the ball Saturday night as they suffered their worst home loss since a 45-12 loss to Grambling State University in 1992.

FAMU came into the game without four key starters, including three linebackers.

The Rattler defense was without redshirt freshman Michael McMillan, junior Dannel Shepard, redshirt sophomore Vernon Wilder and junior defensive end Tyrone McGriff.

And the offensive line was without its starting center, freshman Steve Brazzle, who suffered a dislocated shoulder in practice Wednesday.

The Pirates took advantage of the Rattlers’ anemic defense, as senior Hampton running back Alonzo Coleman rushed 11 times for 181 yards and 4 touchdowns.

“I said at the beginning of the week that I wanted to rush for 200 yards, and I was in my offensive line’s ear all week about it. They blocked and opened up some holes for me, and I just hit them hard,” Coleman said.

While Coleman fell a bit short of his 200-yard goal, the rest of the Hampton backfield also made contributions.

Junior running back Kevin Beverly rushed for 73 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries.

The Pirates racked up 256 total rushing yards against the Rattlers defense. FAMU played without its leading tackler and team captain, Wilder, who was sidelined with a left leg injury.

“I feel like I let my team down,” said Wilder of his absence. “I tried to go in practice, but I just couldn’t do it. I was having trouble sprinting.”

FAMU head football coach Rubin Carter said that the team’s injury count changed the FAMU game plan.

“We had to play young defensively. And it looked like they just didn’t have enough experience,” Carter said.

Brazzle’s shoulder injury gave redshirt junior Richard Koonce his first start at center for the Rattlers.

“I only had one day at practice at it,” Koonce said. “But you know when an injury happens, you have to make things happen.”

Carter said the shift on the offensive line also forced the Rattlers to alter their approach. The Rattler offense struggled to move the ball throughout the contest.

The running game proved to be ineffective for FAMU, as they gained 78 yards on the ground.

Redshirt sophomore Anthony Edwards led the team in rushing with 64 yards on 10 carries.

The Rattlers passing game also came up short as the team garnered 79 yards through the air.

Redshirt junior quarterback Albert Chester II completed 8 of 20 passes for 53 yards before leaving the game early in the third quarter with an ankle injury.

Chester struggled against the Hampton defense as he overthrew receivers for most of the game.

“They didn’t play us how we expected. Our timing was a little off when they gave us a different look,” Chester said.

Back-up quarterback Leon Camel did not fare much better. He completed 2 of 7 passes for 26 yards with two interceptions and two fumbles.

Camel’s first interception was picked off by Hampton linebacker Charles Robinson and returned 45 yards for a touchdown.

The lone Rattler score came on an end zone fumble recovery by senior wide receiver Roosevelt Kiser in the second quarter after a botched pitch attempt.

Kiser said the loss will serve as inspiration as the team prepares to face rival Bethune-Cookman College Saturday in the Florida Classic at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando.

“It leaves a bad feeling in my chest,” Kiser said. “I never thought this game would have been so lopsided, but this is definitely motivation for next week.”