Florida A&M Uses Big Plays to Defeat Howard
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Florida A&M used two big plays on defense to jump out to an early lead and then cruised to an easy 51-24 win over Howard University in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game at Greene Stadium.
The Rattlers took the opening kickoff and drove 44 yards in 10 plays before being stopped and forced to settle for a 26-yard field goal.
The Bison responded and appeared on the verge of countering. But then came the first of perhaps the two biggest plays of the game. On Howard's possession, the ball was snapped over the head of Bison quarterback Floyd Haigler and FAMU's Joseph Wims scooped up the loose ball and rumbled 65 yards for the TD.
Florida A&M (2-1 overall, 1-1 in the MEAC) was not finished. The Rattlers struck again on the Bison's ensuing possession when Qier Hall intercepted a Haigler pass and returned it 67 yards for another TD. The two plays came in a span of less than a minute and the Bison found themselves down, 17-0 only six minutes into the first quarter.
"All week, I was concerned about FAMU," said Howard Coach Carey Bailey. "They have phenomenal speed, talent and depth. They have always that, but now they are very disciplined. We were dominated."
With the quick early lead, the Rattlers found a comfort zone and began to use their two-quarterback system effectively. Eddie Battle and Curtis Pulley both played a role in the 24 points that FAMU rang up in the second quarter.
First Battle put together a short drive that he capped off with a 43-yard TD strike to Adrian Smith. Then it was Pulley's turn as the 6-4, 200-pound red-shirt junior transfer from Kentucky took his team 71 yards on only 5 plays. Phillip Sylvester finished off the drive with an 11-yard jaunt, but it was Pulley who accounted for the other 60 yards of the drive.
Battle returned and engineered an exclamation point, 93-yard drive that took 10 plays, used up almost 5 minutes with the 6-2, 215-pound red-shirt sophomore quarterback taking it in from the one-yard line.
"Anytime you get a solid two-quarterback system, it is big plus," explained Coach Bailey. "You have to prepare for them differently but the big thing is that they are doing exactly what they are supposed to do."
Added FAMU Coach Joe Taylor, "Our quarterbacks are two unselfish guys. It was our plan to alternate them and play them as long as they were effective."
Battle was 7 for 12 for 154 yards and a TD while Pulley was 7 of 11 for only 41 yards and a TD, but he picked up 66 yards rushing on 8 carries.
The Rattlers closed out the scoring with a TD and field goal in the third quarter.
Howard (0-3 overall, 0-2 in the MEAC) finally got untracked in the fourth quarter when Haigler tossed touchdown passes of 13-yard to Willie Carter and 1-yard to Ulysses Alexander, who saw his first action of the season. Will Croner, who doubled as defensive lineman and fullback, scored the other TD on a one-yard plunge.
"We are a young squad, but we did not quit," said Coach Bailey. "We are not just good enough to get off to a slow start and fall behind 17 points. We have to learn from this."
Haigler put up some good numbers (30 of 47, 306 yards, 2 TDs), but he was intercepted three times and sacked four times.
"I take full credit for some of the mistakes we made today," said Haigler. "There were a couple of times when I made bad reads and did not get the ball away. But you have to give FAMU credit. They had something to do with the way we played."
GAME NOTES: Phillip Sylvester had another fine outing against the Bison...the sophomore first team All-MEAC selection led all rushers with 131 yards on 14 carries and a TD...Senior wide receiver Arlandus Hood continues his consistent play...the MEAC's leading receiver grabbed 12 passes for 95 yards...he just missed tying the school record of 13 held by former Bison standout Gary "Flea" Harrell, who set the mark in 1993...Willie Carter is making his mark as one of the top freshman to come into the MEAC in recent years...the 6-3, 190-pound native of Denmark, SC, grabbed 8 passes for 87 yards and his third TD of the season...Ulysses Alexander grabbed three passes for 52 yards and a TD...two of the catches were a result of him using his 6-5 height advantage to outmaneuver shorter defenders...Endor Cooper had another sterling effort with 17 tackles, 2.5 for losses...Croner, a 6-2, 245-pound junior from Wilmington, DE, played both sides of the ball...in addition to scoring his first TD at Howard, Croner made his debut at defensive end and responded with 5 tackles, 2 for losses.
NEXT UP: FAMU travels to Atlanta, GA next Saturday to take on the Tigers of Tennessee State in the Atlanta Classic at 3 pm while the Bison will be looking for their first win of the season when they travel to Miami, FL to take on the Tigers of Savannah State in the Miami Classic at 6 pm.