Penalties and poor clock management was the story for Florida A&M football in their 18-16 loss to Jackson State University.
Saturday night’s game came down to the final seconds, and poor clock management by head coach Willie Simmons cost the Rattlers a chance to win the game.
With 1:09 left in the game, FAMU managed to drive all the way from the Tigers’ 36-yard line to their own two after FAMU quarterback Ryan Stanley connected with wide receiver Xavier Williams on a long pass. With less than 20 seconds left and a chance to win the game, the Rattlers elected to run the ball with no timeouts left. On 2nd down with 13 seconds left on the running clock, coach Simmons tried to quickly get the field goal unit on the field instead of spiking the ball and time ran out before the Rattlers could snap it.
“Obviously poor clock management on my part,” said coach Simmons after the game. “We had no time outs so, you got to throw the football. We ran a play that kind of gave us the option to run it or throw it, we hand the ball off and didn’t get it and time was running down. I should’ve killed the ball and let the quarterback spike it…just poor clock management on my part. I assume full responsibility for that.”
Penalties were also costly for FAMU. Although the offense was able to move the ball easily, racking up a total of 463 total yards, penalties and turnovers constantly killed momentum on the Rattlers’ drives.
“It’s poor fundamentals,” coach Simmons explained. “Right now, we’re not playing very good fundamental football and that’s coaching. We’ve got to do a much better job of stressing it. We may have to look at the way we practice, and we may have to implement some more individual time…to make sure we get fined tuned in our fundamentals.”
FAMU committed 15 penalties which costed them 177 yards, and that’s without mentioning the many holding penalties that were declined by the Tigers.
On top of all that, the Rattlers lost the turnover battle. While they were able to force two interceptions on the defense end, the FAMU offense lost three fumbles.
Despite the gut-wrenching loss, Stanley is only allowing himself 24 hours to dwell on it.
“If I get in there moping around and crying or having my head down those guys will do the same thing,” Stanley said. “I just got to keep my spirits high and tell them we have a long season ahead of us. Twenty-four-hour rule for a victory and a 24-hour window for a loss. You just got to watch the film tomorrow and get better.”
Stanley’s performance is one thing the Rattlers can hang their hat on. He completed 26 passes in 37 attempts for 340 yards and a touchdown. The defense also put up a great performance, forcing two turnovers and only allowing JSU to convert 3 times out of 14 on third down.
“I think we fought hard right to the end,” said linebacker Derrick Mayweather. “It just came down to the last minute.”
The real test for FAMU starts next Saturday, as they open conference play at home against Savannah State at 4 p.m.