Four days after head coach Earl Holmes was fired, the Florida A&M Rattlers (2-7, 2-3 MEAC) lost on homecoming, 12-10 game in a nail-biter at Bragg Memorial Stadium to the Norfolk State University Spartans (4-5, 4-1 MEAC).
Interim head coach Corey Fuller reflected with a heavy heart about his friend being fired days before the loss.
"Next to my Brother being killed this has been one of the longest weeks of my life," Fuller said. "A friend of mine was fired and we had to put it all together in two and a half days in a situation where its an all the way uphill battle."
The Rattlers started off slowly with a three and out and a lost muffed punt on their first two drives. After the miscues, Norfolk State dominated time of possession in the first half edging the Rattlers 18:00 to 11:40.
The Rattlers were unable to capitalize on their one and only red zone attempt in the first half getting stopped at their one-yard line before failing to convert on 4th and inches. This would prove to be a fitting omen for the second half.
Sophomore left guard Keonte Cash felt like the team could have been more successful with their first half drives; especially their short yardage situations.
"That defense wasn't better than us, we were moving the ball on them, we just have to be better at finishing drives," Cash said. “They were not anything special, we just dropped the ball."
During the second half the Rattlers began to gain momentum and sustain drives. The Rattlers converted a season high 50 percent on third down; going 6 for 12 on the day.
Both teams traded the lead during the second half.
FAMU a 10-6 lead behind a 10-yard reception by redshirt sophomore wide receiver Montavius Williams with 2:18 left in the third.
Norfolk State regained the lead 12-10 with 6:40 left in the game, but missed the extra point which left the door open for the Rattlers.
With 4:22 left in the game the Rattlers called their final timeout due to a confusion on a pre-snap read, which was an issue all afternoon.
The Rattlers drove down to their red-zone with seconds left in the game, but had no timeouts to work with.
Senior quarterback Damian Fleming ran a qb sneak amid tons of confusion and that would be the last play of the game.
The failed sneak epitomized the type of game it was for the Rattlers and it sealed the 12-10 loss.
Freshmen running back Gerald Hearns cited the miscommunication as the reason for the loss.
"In the huddle the play was called," Hearns said. "We didn't realize until after the fact that [coach] wanted us to spike the ball…everything was going so fast it was hard for us to tell what was going on."
The Rattlers get no reprieve as they try and regroup against Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference leader South Carolina State University Saturday in Bragg. Kick-off is set for 3 pm in the Rattlers home finale.