Florida A&M Downs Howard For First Win
FL, September 17—Howard
University came into the game with the top-ranked defense in 1-AA,
but it was the recently maligned Florida A&M defense that stole
the thunder as the Rattlers defeated, 33-20 before at Bragg
The Rattlers (1-2, 1-1 in the MEAC) jumped out to an early 14-0 lead, increased it to 24-0 at halftime and held the Howard offense to only four first half, first downs.
The FAMU game plan was simple: Use the quick, short passes and the running of Rashad Pompey to neutralize the Howard blitzes that had been so effective in their first two games and shut down the Bison running game and put pressure on Howard quarterback Ronald Venters. It worked to perfection as Pompey finished with 116 yards on 20 carries and the Rattler quarterbacks completed 18 of 26 for 177 yards and three TDs; Howard was held to 30 yards rushing on 24 carries and Venters was sacked three times and fumbled twice.
“The team we saw tonight was not the same team that we saw on film against South Florida,” said Howard Coach Ray Petty, referring to the Rattlers’ last outing. “They came out with a lot of intensity and emotion and we didn’t match it. They executed their game plan. They dictated the pace of the game on offense with a quick tempo that did not allow us to use our different packages and their defense took away some of the things we wanted to do. They are a better football team that people think and they are going to be a factor in this conference.”
FAMU set the tone early. Following the first of two fumbles by Venters, the Rattlers took seven plays to go 67 yards as Josh Driscoll, in his first start of the season, connected with Derek Williams from 5 yards out.
Howard (1-2, 0-2 in the MEAC) was forced to punt after failing to get a first down and the Rattlers took advantage of the short field by going 38 yards in six plays, this time Driscoll taking it in from seven yards to up the score to 14-0 still in the first period.
FAMU increased its lead to 21-0 on its first possession of the second quarter after an 8-play, 57-yard drive that was culminated on a flea flicker from wide receiver Roosevelt Kiser to Aubrey Parrish from 28 yards out.
The Bison offense finally got untracked and put together their first sustained drive of the first half, moving the ball deep into Rattlers’ territory. But Howard wide receiver Thyron Lewis (career-best 6 receptions, 83 yards, 2 TDs) was stripped of the ball and the Rattlers recovered at their own seven-yard line and later tacked on a 42-yard field goal on the last play of the half.
On a down note, the start of the second half was delayed for several minutes after a confrontation between the Florida A&M Marching 100 band and the Howard players that resulted in objects being thrown from the stands at the Howard players. No one was injured and order was restored after the teams changed sides of the field.
The Bison seemed to gain motivation from the incident and responded with their first touchdown of the game on a three-yard run by Jamar Smith.
But this was the Rattlers day on defense as they forced another Venters’ fumble on Howard’s next possession. It took them two plays to score and up the margin to 31-7.
Howard refused to fold and scored back-to-back touchdowns on 24- and 9-yard strikes from Venters to Thyron Lewis during a five-minute span to get to within 31-20 with almost four minutes left.
But the Florida A&M special teams sealed their first win of the season when they blocked the Bison PAT attempt and returned it for a two-point conversion.
“I am proud of the way that the players fought back in the second half,” said Petty, who is now 2-1 against the Rattlers. “We never quit and actually had a chance to be back in the game.”
GAME NOTES: Venters set new personal records in completions (18) and attempts (34) in a losing effort…Larry Duncan had another fine effort, catching 5 passes for 64 yards and returning 4 punts for 47 yards…Bethea led the team in tackles with 12 and recorded his first interception of the season…sophomore linebacker Danual Pearce continues to show why he has a bright future, recording 10 tackles and a forced fumble…the win was the first for FAMU head coach Rubin Carter.