FAMUAN player of the week: The Rattler Defense

Rattler defense lining up against Fort Valley State on Sept. 1
Sydne Vigille | The FAMUAN

In the annual Florida A&M University Homecoming football game, the Rattlers shut-out Norfolk State behind the stout “Orange Crush” defense holding the Spartans’ scoreless throughout the entire game. 

The Rattler offense stammered in the first three quarters of play, accumulating only 58 rushing yards and no passing touchdowns. The lone score of the first half for both teams being Yahia Aly’s 22-yard FG to give FAMU a 3-0 lead. 

Junior linebacker Elijah Richardson, one of the key members of the “Orange Crush” defense, who recorded a team-high 10 total tackles, helped limit Norfolk State to 79 total rushing yards. Richardson gave credit to the hunger that the players have to be great defensively regardless of how the offense is doing.

“We hungry when defense comes onto the field. We want to eat. It doesn’t matter what the offense is doing, the defense has to do its job. We can’t worry about the offense, we don’t practice with the them.” 

The Rattlers’ secondary torched the Spartans for three interceptions, gaining 88 total yards off of turnovers alone. 

Sophomore LB Derrick Mayweather, who garnered five total tackles, says preparation throughout the week in practice gives the ability for anyone to step up on any given week. 

“Basically, everyone tries to prepare. They try and rotate everybody in during the week, during practice, so everybody is prepared if someone gets kicked out or gets a penalty.”

The first touchdown of the game didn’t happen until 9:59 of the 4th quarter on a 13-yard pass to WR Chad Hunter from QB Ryan Stanley. 

Coach Willie Simmons, who as of Oct. 7, is leading FAMU to an undefeated record in the MEAC, discussed how the defense stepped up when the offense was sluggish in the first three quarters of play before picking it up in the final 15 minutes of regulation. Simmons credited the players, the defensive staff, and defensive coordinator Ralph Street for executing the game plan well. 

“Any great team plays great defense, and offense is not always going to be strong. Coming into the game [Norfolk State] had the leading defense in the conference statistically, so we knew it was going to be a tough challenge for us to consistently score points and move the ball.

“I tip my hat to the defensive staff, defensive coordinator Ralph Street. Phenomenal game plan to neutralize three dynamic receivers and a dynamic quarterback who just threw for 300 yards.”   

This was FAMU’s first shut-out win in 18 years since routing Howard University 43-0 back in the early part of the century. 

Up next is an inner-conference match-up against the North Carolina A&T Bulldogs.