Florida A&M Capitalizes On Howard's Missed Opportunities
Washington, DC-September 16, 2006-Florida A&M parlayed two fourth quarter touchdowns and a missed PAT into a 31-23 win over Howard University in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game at Greene Stadium before 6,035. The Rattlers (1-2, 1-1) won their first game of the season while the Bison (0-2, 0-2 in the MEAC) dropped their sixth straight dating back to last season.
Florida A&M set the tone early, taking the opening kickoff and moving smartly down the field, culminating a 56-yard, 10-play drive with a two-yard plunge by red-shirt sophomore running back Anthony Edwards.
The Bison failed to move the ball on their first possession and were forced to punt after three plays.
But the Howard defense made some adjustments and forced the Rattlers to punt on their next possession. The Bison then put together an impressive drive, going 87 yards in 8 plays with sophomore quarterback Martin Decembert hooking up with Stephane Assoumou from 13 yards out for the duo's second TD of the season.
The Howard defense, led by junior linebacker Danual Pearce, who stripped Edwards of the ball, gave the offense excellent field position at the FAMU 26. The offense took advantage, taking 6 plays to go the distance as senior running back Keon Coleman scored from two yards out to give the Bison their first lead of the season at 14-7.
The Rattlers then countered following a nifty 34-yard kick return by senior Roosevelt Kiser that helped set up a 26-yard field goal by Wesley Taylor that cut the deficit to 14-10 at the half.
The Bison had a chance to regain the momentum in the third quarter as they forced turnovers and mistakes by FAMU. But it was a case of missed opportunities.
"We missed some opportunities and it took us out of the game," lamented Howard Coach Ray pPtty. "We let a game get away that we should have won today."
Howard had three chances to come away with points, but a combination of untimely penalties, dropped passes and botched assignments proved to be its undoing. FAMU did not let its opportunity get away as the Rattlers droved 66 yards in 5 plays and capped off the drive with a beautiful pass from Chester to Derek Williams from 13 yards out to give them a 17-14 lead with 1:48 left in the third.
Howard countered however on its next possession as it drove deep into FAMU territory, but a couple of mistakes forced a field goal that tied the game at 17-all to start the fourth quarter. It was freshman Dennis Wiehberg's first field goal of his career.
But the Rattlers came right back. It took them a little over two minutes to go 67 yards, the final 43 coming on a Chester to Kiser connection to make it 24-17.
"We had to make sure that we moved the chains to keep their offense off the field," said FAMU head coach Rubin Carter. ""We put in schemes to make sure that we kept the chains moving and got the ball into the end zone."
The Bison, feeling the urgency of the moment, switched quarterbacks and inserted junior Will Blanden, who started the season opener against Hampton. The move paid dividends as Blanden put together a 10-play, 80-yards drive, finishing it off with a 31-yard determined run where he eluded or ran out of the grasp of several FAMU defenders.
The PAT attempt by Wiehberg was good, but a crucial penalty against the Bison pushed them back and this time Wiehberg, missed, making the 24-23, FAMU.
"It was huge and it took us out of the game," said Petty, who protested vehemently with the official after the call. "We were in a double wing formation, the same formation that we ran earlier and the same formation we ran after the penalty."
The Rattler gave themselves some insurance on their next possession when Edwards accounted for most of the yards during a 68-yard drive in which he sealed the deal with a 25-yard burst off tackle.
"His special ability is to get yards after contact," said FAMU Coach Carter. "Those are the type of things we expect from him." Edward finished with a career-high 124 yards on 29 carries and two touchdowns.
Howard had one more chance on its ensuing possession, but the Rattlers got an interception and ran out the clock for their first win.
The Bison were led on offense by Coleman, who rushed for 92 yards on 12 carries and Blanden, who came off the bench to rush for 80 yards in 7 carries.
"I thought we stepped up today," said Howard first-year offensive coordinator Linwood Ferguson. "A lot of players took the experience from the first game and stepped up today. We're really proud of the effort today."
Chester, who missed last week's Miami game with an injury, completed 18 of 27 for 213 yards and 2 TDs while Kiser caught a game-high 9 catches for 107 yards. On the day, Kiser, who has been a thorn in the Howard's side, totaled 260 yards of all-purpose running.
NEXT UP: FAMU hosts Winston-Salem State in its home opener next week at Bragg Stadium while Howard travels to New Brunswick, NJ to take on Rutgers at 2 pm. That game will be broadcast live on MSG cable.
GAME NOTES: It marked the second straight time that the Bison have eclipsed the 200-yard rushing mark. But they managed only 112 yards passing and completed only 9 of 29...for the second straight week, the trio of linebackers, Timothy Lockett, Danual Pearce and Robert Dowdy, led the defense...all three finished with double digit tackles.