FAMU spoils Norfolk State’s homecoming

Senior running back Phillip Sylvester continued his dominance in his return to Norfolk State. He racked up a season high 92 yards against the Spartans last season, and led the offensive attack with 130 rushing yards on 23 carries in this season’s game.

The Florida A&M football team spoiled Norfolk State’s homecoming with a 17-13 victory Saturday at Dick Price Stadium. The Rattlers (4-3, 3-1 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) traveled to Norfolk, Va., hoping to continue their push for a MEAC title.

“We weren’t thinking about their homecoming, or spoiling anything, we just wanted to win the game,” Sylvester said.

Sophomore quarterback Martin Ukpai struggled early in the game. He threw an interception in the first quarter that was returned for a 68-yard touchdown by Norfolk’s senior cornerback Dante Barnes. Ukpai responded by running for a touchdown in the second quarter and orchestrating a 98-yard game-winning drive.

Pinned on the 2-yard line in Rattler territory with 11:41 left in the game, Sylvester ripped off a 36-yard run, his longest of the day.

Freshman fullback Patrick Davis made the next big play on third and seven, catching an 8-yard pass, breaking a tackle and fighting for the first down. The reception was his only catch of the day.

Sophomore wide receiver T.J. Lawrence made a 14-yard grab, despite a pass interference call, to leave the Rattlers 10 yards away from the end zone.

Sylvester handled the rest and rushed for a 10-yard touchdown on the ensuing play.

“Scoring the game winner was nice, but I was much more proud of the defense for holding up during their last drive,” Sylvester said.

The Rattlers’ defense had their hands full all game with Norfolk’s senior running back DeAngelo Branche. He gained 89 yards on 26 carries.

The Spartans (2-5, 1-4 in the MEAC) were hoping to snap a three-game losing streak and get their second ever win against the Rattlers.

Senior cornerback Curtis Holcomb said the team’s focus is past the point of no return, only eyeing the overall goal.

“All we have to do is win out and we win the MEAC,” Holcomb said. “The ball is in our court now.”

This week will be the Rattlers’ homecoming game and they will try not to suffer the same disappointment they served to the Spartans.

“To us, homecoming is just another game,” Sylvester said. “Our goal isn’t to win homecoming, it’s to be in the hunt and win the MEAC.”

The Rattlers will try to continue their run in Bragg Memorial Stadium against the Morgan State Bears at 3 p.m. Saturday.