1995: Southern Sweep
FAMU and Southern came into their Nov. 4 matchup ranked no. 1 and no. 2 respectively in Black College Football. The game was played in the old Georgia Dome and it set the tone for the new era of this then-50 year old rivalry led by coaches Pete Richardson of Southern and Billy Joe of FAMU.
This game is often considered the birth of Billy Joe’s Gulf Coast Offense, mainly out of necessity. Southern came out of the gate strong with a 21-7 lead early, leading Joe to put in Mario Allen at quarterback. He completed 21 of 35 passes for 322 yards and four touchdowns, helping the Rattlers tie the game at 28 at halftime and keeping things knotted in the third quarter. Southern was just too much, though as an Allen interception helped close the lid on the Rattlers hopes for that game in a 52-38 win for the Jaguars.
But there would be another matchup between the two teams. This was the era of the Heritage Bowl, where the SWAC champ and a MEAC representative (usually its second-place team as the winner took on the playoff bids most years) met up in Atlanta for a game that generally decided the “mythical black college national title.” Basically it was the Celebration Bowl before the Celebration Bowl.
FAMU badly wanted another piece of Southern, and it made no attempt to hide it.
“We may meet Southern again in the same place,” star receiver Robert Wilson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I want Southern again.”
And that’s just what Wilson and Co. got.
The two teams met again on Dec. 29, 1995. Southern’s senior quarterback Eric Randall completed a decorated career with a solid win over FAMU as his team once-again withstood a furious late comeback attempt from Mario Allen and Earl Holmes’ Rattlers to claim a 30-25 win.
“We came here a couple of years ago and there was some debate about who was No. 1,” Pete Richardson said. “There’s no doubt now.”
At least not until the next season.