Tallahassee, FL–One thing for sure, Albany State (1-1, 0-0 SIAC) was not the ideal opponent for Florida A&M (1-2, 0-1 SWAC) on Saturday. The Rattlers coming off a season-opening 0-2 skid, were facing the 1-0 Golden Rams who were coming off an SIAC championship and an NCAA playoff appearance. If FAMU had the right opponent who could create another perfect storm, it was Gabe Giardina’s squad.
Fortunately for the Rattlers, their home opener in the newly renovated Bragg Memorial Stadium would end in their first win of the 2022 season. The Rattlers are clawing back into the season after a rollercoaster beginning. Coach Willie Simmons managed to put together some glimpses of what this Rattler squad promised to be.
FAMU was impressive in the fact that it was able to operate offensively in balance. They went for 395 total offensive yards with 230 coming through the air and 165 coming on the ground. The dedication to the running game was key for FAMU controlling the game. With starting running back Tyrell Jennings on the sidelines, Jaylen McCloud and De’Andre Francis carried the rock as his replacement.
The game started with the Golden Rams taking their first possession and driving down the field as Marcus Fulks scored on a seven-yard run on an option play with a pitch from SIAC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, quarterback Dionte Bonneau.
FAMU would rebound as De’Andre Francis scored his first career touchdown for FAMU on a one-yard run. All-SWAC kicker Jose Romo-Martinez nailed a 29-yard field goal with 7:10 remaining in the half to give FAMU it’s first lead of the night. With 2:06 remaining in the first half, All-American wide receiver Xavier Smith darted to a corner route and quarterback Jeremy Moussa was right on the money with the pass for a six-yard touchdown. The Rattlers would go in at halftime with a 17-7 lead.
The third quarter saw Romo-Martinez nail two more field goals giving FAMU a 23-7 lead going to the fourth quarter.
Giardina and his gritty team would not wane as they would score another touchdown in the final 20 seconds of the game. Marcuis Fulks would power in a one-yard run to make the final score 23-13.
FAMU Streak continues
Simmons will take the win and look forward to a bye week to prepare the Rattlers for an eight week conference run.
“We’re excited to get a win. Obviously we didn’t play our best ball but at the end of the day it feels really good to be back in the win column. It’s good to continue our home winning streak, one of the longest in the nation so it’s been a goal of ours and we wanted to make sure we kept that in tact,” said Simmons.
The Rattlers are on an 11-game home win streak, dating back to 2019.
Giardina proud of the resilience of his team
Giardina was proud of how Albany State stepped up against the Rattlers and was impressed by the game atmosphere in Bragg Stadium.
“What an environment first of all. It’s a great place to play. The electric crowd was awesome. Just being out there from pregame til the end of the game was a really neat environment. We had a great start and got a stop and went down and scored and had it moving there for about six minutes, then they did a good job of settling in and I think defensively, I was really proud of our defense. I thought the guys really tackled so much better than they did last week,” Giardina said.
Albany State will next face Shorter University in Rome, GA. The Rattlers will have a week off before welcoming in the Alabama A&M Bulldogs to Bragg Stadium.