TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Sept. 28) – The old saying “History Repeats Itself” was never a more appropriate way to describe the recent football history between Florida A&M and North Carolina Central.
That the visiting Eagles (3-1, 2-0 MEAC) turned Houdini for the third straight year to escape with a 21-14 fourth quarter victory was not surprising.
Nor was the frustration and disappointment that the gritty and determined FAMU Rattlers (2-3, 1-1 MEAC) felts yet again after another near-miss against Central.
Take away Davant Reynolds pick six off FAMU quarterback Ryan Stanley with 5:02 left in the first period, and the game might have had a different outcome.
The Eagles scored first when quarterback Chauncey Caldwell dashed in from 18 yards out for a 7-0 lead with 5:18 left in the opening stanza. Reynolds’ pick six came just 16 seconds later, staking the visitors to a 14-0 lead.
But the Rattlers dug deep and pulled themselves back into contention in this heavyweight battle, when Devin Bowers capped a 14-play, 86-yard matrch with a one-yard run with 10:27 left in the half, cutting the Central edge to 14-7.
The Rattler Defense opened the door for the tying score with under seven minutes left in the half, sacking NCCU’s Caldwell on the Eagles’ one-yard line and recovering a fumble.
Four plays later, Bowers tossed a fourth down jump pass to Kevin Newman for a 14-14 count after Khalil Clark’s PAT, with just over five minutes to play.
After, the game settled into a defensive struggle until Central’s final possession late in the fourth quarter, where they had won the two previous games in the series in 2015 (27-24) and 2016 (17-13).
The Eagles took possession after a FAMU punt was downed at the Rattler 47-yard line, driving the distance in eight plays, with halfback Isaiah Totten barging in from nine yards out with 2:02 left.
FAMU would turn the ball over on downs, with NCCU running out the clock.
LOOKING AHEAD: The Rattlers head to Norfolk, Va., next Saturday to face off against the Norfolk State Spartans in a 1:00 p.m. game at Dick Price Stadium.... The next home game will be Saturday, Oct. 14 against the North Carolina A&T Aggies in the annual Homecoming game in Bragg Stadium. Kickoff will be 3:00 p.m.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: Rattler Nation showed up strong for the nationally-televised thriller at Bragg Stadium, with 18,488 partisans filling the stands, many arriving after the 7:30 p.m. kickoff…
The FAMU Defense held the Eagles to just 241 total yards Thursday, the second fewest yards allowed this season, after the 202 allowed in the opener to Texas Southern…. The FAMU Offense fared slightly better with 258 total yards, as they passed for 185 yards and rushed for 73…. Bowers had 76 yards rushing on 19 carries, rushing for a score and tossing a TD strike…
Stanley went 19 for 31 for 182 yards, with one interception…. Brandon Norwood led FAMU with six catches for 37 yards, but was robbed it appeared of a crucial diving catch which would have sustained a fourth quarter drive, despite a lengthy replay review….
Linebacker Elijah Richardson, who went down late with an undisclosed injury, led the FAMU defense with 10 tackles, inckuding three tackles for loss…. End Elijah Price had a monster game, with six tackles, two sacks, three tackles for loss and two forced fumbles.