Senior back provides spark

The Rattlers are on a three-game win streak and the play of senior running back Philip Sylvester has been a significant factor for the team’s success.

Sylvester rushed for 192 yards and two touchdowns in the 31-17 homecoming victory over the Morgan State Bears Saturday, including an 88-yard touchdown with 3:04 left in the fourth quarter to seal the game.

Sophomore quarterback Martin Ukpai said he knew Sylvester was going to bust the play open as soon as he got by the safeties. 

“The safety was coming up and (Sylvester) just started turning his legs even faster,” Ukpai said.  “That’s just what he does. He’s a speed back so I expected him to run that in.”

Sylvester has rushed for 100 yards or more in three consecutive games for the first time in his collegiate career.  Head coach Joe Taylor said he will be the focal point of the offense for the rest of the season.

“We will run the ball because Mr. Sylvester is healthy,” Taylor said. “He’s our featured guy going down the stretch.” 

The mid-season rushing surge brought on by Sylvester has made the Rattlers a run first team, and Sylvester said Taylor likes running the ball to win the possession battle.

“Coach always tells us that we want to control the ball, and by doing that, we’re going to run the ball,” Sylvester said. “That’s what we’ve been doing in practice and that’s what happened in the game.

Taylor said Sylvester is as healthy as he’s ever seen him and also said he has potential to play professionally if he keeps working. 

“He’ll be playing on Sundays next year if he keeps it going the way he is,” Taylor said. 

Sylvester has rushed for 475 yards and five touchdowns in during the Rattlers’ win streak and possibly could be catching the attention of pro scouts.