HAMPTON, Va. (Nov. 14) – The Florida A&M University Football team suffered their first shutout in conference play in 11 years here Saturday, as they dropped a 25-0 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference decision to Hampton University at Armstrong Stadium.
It was the first shutout overall for FAMU since a 62-0 setback at the hands of Virginia Tech in 2004, and it was the first conference shutout since an identical 25-0 decision was dealt to them by Bethune-Cookman in 1988 in Tampa.
Saturday’s setback virtually ended the Rattlers NCAA playoff hopes, but a bigger question for FAMU (7-3, 5-2 in MEAC) is the health of the squad.
Senior quarterback Curtis Pulley exited the game in the first half after re-aggravating a groin injury, then backup Eddie Battle injured his shoulder late in the game. Plus all three starting Rattler receivers – Kevin Elliott, Adrian Smith and Isaac West all left the game with injuries.
David Legree and Herbert Bynes split time at quarterback, leading the Pirates (5-5, 3-4 in MEAC) to 464 total yards Saturday, while the Rattlers managed just 184 total – their lowest of the season.
Legree scored on a 15-yard run with 25 seconds left in the half to give the Pirates a 6-0 halftime lead.
Running back Steve Robinson capped an 82-yard, 12-play drive with a two-yard run, extending the Pirates’ lead to 12-0, then Isiah Thomas caught a 50-yard bomb from Bynes (14:03) early in the final stanza to push Hampton further out front, 19-0.
Robinson, who rushed for a game-high 150 yards on 17 carries, capped the game’s scoring with a one-yard burst at the end of an 81-yard march for the final 25-0 with 4:25 left in the game.
Third string quarterback Martin Ukpai led all FAMU runners with 48 yards on five carries in the final two series of the game, followed by Philip Sylvester, who ran for 45 yards on 10 carries.
Battle finished the game Saturday with 32 yards passing on eight completions (16 attempts), with two interceptions, while Pulley was five of seven for 22 yards in the first period.
Adrian Smith led FAMU with four receptions for 34 yards, while Javares Knight (26 yards), Isaac West (18 yards) and Sylvester (-8 yards) each had two catches.
Defensively, linebacker Alvis Grahm topped the charts with 10 tackles, followed by freshman Jerrod Brisbon with nine stops.
GAME NOTES: Saturday’s loss, coupled with South Carolina State’s win over Morgan State, assured the Bulldogs the 2009 MEAC title. SCSU (9-1, 7-0) will claim the league’s automatic NCAA playoff berth for the postseason which begins November 28.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Rattlers will close out the regular season next Saturday in Orlando against Bethune-Cookman University in the 30th Florida Classic. Kickoff will be 2:30 p.m. for the nationally-televised contest (ESPN Classic) at the Florida Citrus Bowl.