About a month ago, Florida A&M fans were not so happy about their football program. After a 1-2 start, with the second loss ending in embarrassing fashion; Coach Willie Simmons was feeling the heat.
Well, the Rattlers responded fiercely, they won their fourth game in a row. Just over three days after being battered by Hurricane Michael, FAMU beat defending MEAC champ North Carolina A&T 22-21 in Greensboro.
But the victory was hard fought and even hard to see at some points. The FAMU special teams unit was tested early. A Malik Wilson 100 yard kickoff return opened up the scoring for A&T on the first play of the game. The 7-0 deficit turned into a 14-0 deficit after Lamar Raynard found Zachary Leslie for a passing touchdown near the end of the 1st half.
But the Rattler defense kept the team alive. NCAT running back Marquell Cartwright fumbled, Herman Jackson picked it up and scored. This was a possible turning point for the Rattlers but NCAT responded right back. Zackery Leslie scored again for A&T, making the core 21-6 at the half.
Some ugly numbers for @FOOTBALL_NCAT …
— FAMU had 20 first downs in the second half.
— FAMU was 8 for 11 on third down (1 for 1 on fourth) in second half
— A&T had 13 penalties for 131 yards (big pass interference on winning drive).
— Jefe Mills (@JeffMillsNR) October 13, 2018
Ryan Stanley and his offense turned things up a bit in the second half. He manufactured a six minute and 80-yard drive that led to an Azende Rey rushing touchdown. In the 4th, Stanley connected with Chad Hunter, making the score 19 to 21. After an A&T punt, Stanley conducted another long drive. The 70-yard drive ended with a field goal. The FG by Yahia Aly went in with four seconds in the game.
A&T’s last heave for the endzone failed, thus ending the game.
FAMU’s 16 unanswered points were the pathway to victory. Their second half performance cleared that pathway. In the second half, the Rattlers scored on three out of their four drives. Their second drive out of the four ended with a missed field goal. For A&T, its four drives ended in three punts and a last-second heave with a few seconds left in the game.
FAMU’s win was a total team performance. Their QB was a key component of it. Ryan Staley threw for over 300 yards for the second time this season. He outdueled A&T QB Lamar Raynard who threw for 248 yards and two touchdowns.
With this win, FAMU is the team to beat in the MEAC right now.