Column: Is this the new FAMU football team?

Royal A. Shepherd (RoyalShepherdFS on Twitter), Production Director

TALLAHASSEE, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net) – You know, I can’t remember the last time Florida A&M’s football team drove down the field into their opponents redzone on its first three drives. Then again, I can’t remember the last time the Rattler’s defense suffocated a team into submission by halftime. Or at least I couldn’t remember.

Head coach Alex Woods and the Rattlers did both on Saturday. The team was both efficient on offense and stingy on defense for their noon kickoff against Texas Southern University.  It resulted in a pretty convincing 29-7 victory for FAMU in its first home opener since 2011.

Calvin Sykes | Franchise Sports Tallahassee
Vincent Jefferies carries the ball into the end zone during the third quarter of Florida A&M’s season opener. The Rattlers won 29-7.

FAMU’s opening drive started off promising. Behind a good mix of passing and running plays, the Rattlers marched down the field only to miss a relatively short field goal attempt. Of course, everyone was thinking the same thinking the same thing at this point: “You have to make those count. You never know how many chances they’ll have in the red zone.”

The answer was several.

In fact, the team got into the red zone on each of its first three possessions. Devin Bowers and Ricky Henrilus were extremely impressive in the game. They were able to give FAMU a solid ground game as a change of pace option. It looked like the type of dual-back tandem the team can lean on going forward. Bowers ended the game with 41 yards on 15 carries, while Henrilus had 14 carries for 81 yards. The team ended with 193 total yards on the ground.

The Rattler’s next drive was also a thing of beauty. Back-to-back spectacular runs after the catch by Marcus Williams, the redshirt sophomore out of Miami, set up a nine-yard QB keeper for a touchdown by Ryan Stanley. 

Let’s pause for a second and talk about Mr. Stanley, or as he will now be known, Sunshine.

 

 

 

Stanley was an absolute monster in this game, finishing 19-32 for 214 yards and a touchdown. He also had three rushes for 21 yards and a touchdown. It wasn’t just his numbers that were impressive, it was his general command of every situation presented to him on the field. It led to some interesting notions about a certain end of the year award.

 

His performance was only outshined by his hair, which reminded me of Billy Ray Cyrus a little.

The Rattlers’ hurry-up offense kept Texas Southern off balance every time they went to it. FAMU looked like a well-oiled machine throughout the first two quarters. TSU players, however, were gassed by the end of the half. They were a team that was beaten and knew it. 

FAMU’s defense played a big role in that feeling of helplessness. Although TSU accounted for 202 yards on offense, they struggled for everyone. The Tigers didn’t cross midfield until the fourth quarter with FAMU up four scores. The Rattler defense only allowed 62 rushing yards on 18 carries and 140 passing yards. They also came away with three sacks and an interception on the day.

The Tigers lone touchdown, a 30-yard hookup between quarterback Jay Christophe to Darvin Kirby, came when the game was already out of reach. 

FAMU needed all the momentum they could gather heading into Thursday’s game against the Arkansas Razorbacks on Thursday. This was a surefire way to gain some of that confidence. We’ll just have to see if they can keep it up all season. But for now, job well done Rattlers.

Famu offense and defense strikes early

Calvin Sykes, Florida A&M Reporter (@CSykesSportsU on twitter)

Tallahassee, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net) – In the first season opener since 2011, Florida A&M faced Texas Southern at noon in the Jake Gaither Classic at Bragg Memorial Stadium on Saturday. The Rattlers defeated the Tigers 29-7 in front of 15,401 fans.

The Rattlers opened their first offensive drive moving the ball downfield easily but came away with no points after a missed field goal.

“We missed on the first opportunity to score,” Head coach Alex Wood said. “We got down and drove the ball on the first drive. I was disappointed that we didn’t get something out of that.”

The first points of the game came off of Florida A&M’s quarterback Ryan Stanley’s legs. Stanley scored on a nine- yard rushing touchdown to give the Rattlers a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter.

The quick success of Stanley against Texas Southern sent the twitter world in a frenzy, being touted as a Heisman hopeful and recognized for scoring the first touchdown of the NCAA football season. Stanley was applauded as the first person to score a touchdown in the 2017 college football season as well as his stylish hair.

 


 

FAMU defense forced TSU to punts on the first two drives and held the Tigers in check through the majority of the game. FAMU only allowed 14 yards throughout the first quarter.

Orlando Mckinely attributes the knowledge of the system on defense for the early success.

“We know the system, and we’ve been in the system for three years,” said McKinely. For the most part, we are veterans and we understand what’s going on.

After Stanley’s rushing touchdown, the Rattlers would have no trouble keeping the success of the up-tempo offense going. Stanley said the passing game was made easy because of the success the team was having on the ground. The success, he said, was due to the work of running backs coach, Roderick Plummer.

“Our backs did a real good job. Bowers, Rickey Henrilus and some young guys got in and got some good reps,” Stanley said. “Coach Plumber does a good job with our running backs, and not even just the run game but protection too.”

Calvin Sykes | Franchise Sports Tallahassee
FAMU’s Ricky Henrilus takes a carry in the third quarter.

Vincent Jefferies, a senior transfer, was brought into the game to run the offense late in the second half, but he did not complete any passes. Jefferies missed on all three of his pass attempts.

“We told Vincent and Ryan both that Vincent was going to play,” Head coach Alex Woo said. “It’s his senior year. It is just not because it’s his senior year. We just don’t give reps just because. He’s earned it, he brings value to the game and his explosiveness. He didn’t create a turnover, and that’s important.”

Jeffries would get a chance to lead the Rattlers to a successful drive in the third quarter. One in which he capped it with a rushing touchdown on a broken play.

On the other hand, Sothern had no success on the offensive side of the ball. Jay Christophe could only connect with his receivers 3 times out of 14 attempts.

“Our quarterback had a tough day,” said Southern Head coach Michael Haywood. “Last year, he went the first game of the year, and he struggled coming back, but everything can be corrected from his mistakes.

Starting the second half down 20 points, Southern’s return man went back into the end zone to take a knee resulting in a safety.

TSU’s only score came off a 35-yard TD from Jay Christophe late in the game.

The Rattlers will face the Arkansas Razorbacks on August 31 at 7 p.m. Central Time.

Holt-On A Second, Noles Almost Steal Rubber Match In 9th

TJ Knapp, Correspondent

TALLAHASSEE, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net) – Almost.  That’s the best way to put Florida State’s 7-5 defeat to Virginia on Sunday. 

At one point in this game, the Nole’s trailed 6-0, and, in the bottom of the ninth, they had the tying run at the plate thanks to a somewhat unfamiliar pinch hitter.

Early on, the feeling in this game was that of another trip out to the wood shed. 

Starter Andrew Karp allowed four runs in the first inning with no recorded outs; the Cavaliers tacked on two more; and the Seminoles (27-18, 11-12) were facing a six-run deficit before they had made it through their own lineup once. Then, in the bottom of the fourth, Dylan Busby smacked a solo shot just left of center field and the Nole’s appeared to wake up.  Two batters later, Drew Mendoza skied a two-run homer over the wall in right field and it was suddenly a 6-3 ball game. 

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Seminoles Celebrate Seniors with Victory Against North Carolina

Kaitlin McMillan, Correspondent

TALLAHASSEE, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net) – Though Florida State celebrated going undefeated in conference play, it was a bittersweet moment for the graduating Seminoles that were honored this Senior Day.

FSU Softball (46-3-1, 23-0) has done the miraculous and gone completely undefeated in the ACC this season after a 6-2 victory over North Carolina. To not have suffered a single loss was an achievement that the Seminole players and coaches were not eager to relinquish this weekend against UNC (36-17, 14-8).

“Just going undefeated in the ACC speaks volumes of the team and the coaching staff and the way we prepare,” senior first baseman Alex Powers said. “Beating any team three times in a row is always pretty difficult and for us to do it continuously throughout this ACC has been really special for us.”

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U-G-L-Y FSU Ain’t Got No RBIs

TJ Knapp, Correspondent

Tallahassee, FLA. (franchisesportsonline.net) – Virginia’s offense feasts, while Florida State’s famines as the Cavaliers take the second game of the series 8-0.

It seemed like nothing could go right for the Seminoles (27-17, 11-11) on Saturday.  Sophomore starting pitcher Tyler Holton lasted only 4.1 innings, allowing two runs on five hits and only striking out one batter—his lowest game total of the season.  Meanwhile, UVA freshman starting pitcher Noah Murdock threw six scoreless innings and allowed only two hits.

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Godby Rallies Back In Extra Innings

Andrew Miller, Correspondent (@AndrewMillerFS on Twitter)

TALLAHASSEE, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net) – Godby used two extra innings to defeat the Sneads Pirates 6-5 on Thursday night.  The Cougars were able to capitalize on the Pirates’ errors to rally back on senior night after falling behind several runs early due to poor pitching.

Sneads got into a groove against a shaky-looking Godby squad early in the game. Senior pitcher Bryan Hamilton was hitting his spots for the Pirates in the first couple of innings, making it tough for the Cougars to get any offense going.

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Travis Rudolph’s Father Fatally Shot

Andrew Miller, Correspondent (@AndrewMillerFS on Twitter)

TALLAHASSEE, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net) – Darryl Rudolph, the father of former Florida State wide receiver Travis Rudolph, died Saturday night after being accidentally shot in the head. Rudolph, a club bouncer at Sugar Daddy’s Cabaret in West Palm Beach, was found inside a back storage room of the club with a mortal gunshot wound to the head and neck area.

According to the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Department, Rudolph was doing some kind of repair work inside the club when an employee in an adjacent room moved a firearm from a shelf, subsequently (accidentally) firing through the wall and striking Rudolph. The incident occurred at 9:25 PM on Friday night.

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Treasured Leon Coach Jimmy Sauls Passes Away at 71

Kaitlin McMillan, Correspondent

TALLAHASSEE, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net) – Sports fans and athletes from Tallahassee and beyond are feeling the loss of esteemed former Leon County high school football coach, Jimmy Sauls. He was admitted to the hospital where he died of cardiac arrest on April 13th at the age of 71.

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Derwin James Back and Better Than Ever

Andrew Miller, Correspondent (@AndrewMillerFS on Twitter)

TALLAHASSEE, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net) –  When defensive stud Derwin James went down with an injury in week two of last year, many Florida State fans held their breath. After the game against Charleston Southern, those fans’ fears quickly became reality—the talented junior safety was victimized by a season-ending knee injury that kept him out of action for the remainder of the season.

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Byrd Is the Word

Florida State vs Clemson Baseball Recap: Brittany Defran, Correspondent

TJ Knapp, Correspondent

TALLAHASSEE, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net) –  Florida State takes the series in a hard fought finale with a final score of 7-6 to hand No. 3 ranked Clemson back-to-back losses for the first time this season.

Stellar relief pitching, timely hitting and clutch defense was the recipe for success.   Senior lefty Alec Byrd earned the win by going three innings in relief, allowing just one run and picking up a couple of huge strikeouts with runners in scoring position.  Cal Raleigh blasted his fifth home run of the season, a solo shot in the 7th inning, to break a 5-5 tie.  The biggest moment of the game however came in the top of the 7th when Rhett Aplin fired nailed what would’ve been the go-ahead run at home plate on an absolutely perfect throw from right field.

“That was an igniter,” said FSU head coach Mike Martin referring to Aplin’s throw to home. “The throw to the plate was right on the money, and the catcher has to make a play. That is probably as a exciting as anything.”

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Noles Bounce Back on Easter

Andrew Miller, Correspondent (@AndrewMillerFS on Twitter)

TALLAHASSEE, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net) – The Florida State Seminoles defeated the Clemson Tigers by a score of 7-3 on Easter Sunday. Sophomore pitcher Tyler Holton tossed a brilliant game for the Seminoles, only allowing three runs in eight innings on a whopping 123 pitches. Ultimately, the Seminoles played nine innings of error-free baseball to tie the series against Clemson at 1-1.

“Obviously when you don’t make an error, you like to think you played well – and we did,” Florida State coach Mike Martin said after the game. “This game was obviously very important to us, and with the lineup we have, we have the ability to do what transpired today [multiple home runs],” he added.

The Seminoles (22-15, 8-9) came out of the gate early, scoring four runs against the Tigers (30-6, 14-3) in the first inning to combat an early 1-0 lead. In the first at-bat for the Seminoles, junior Taylor Walls hit a solo home run to right field. After junior Rhett Aplin was walked and subsequently stole second, sophomore catcher Cal Raleigh brought him across with a deep single to right field. A few pitches later, sophomore slugger Quincy Nieporte went yard for the Seminoles, driving in two runs, making the score 4-1.

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Florida State Falls Short to Clemson in Unbelievable Comeback

Jordan Pandy, Correspondent (@JordanPandyFS on Twitter)

TALLAHASSEE, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net) – The no. 4 Clemson Tigers edge the Florida State Seminoles in a game that was a lot closer than it should have been. Clemson senior Seth Beer drove in four runs, including the final two runs of the game to give the Tigers the final lead 12-10.

“It was a good ballgame, it was a great ballgame – I hope everybody enjoyed that one,” Florida State head coach Mike Martin said, admittedly, sarcastically after the game, but he was not wrong from a fan’s perspective.

The last time these two teams met was in the ACC championship game last year where Clemson won in an 18-13 offensive showdown. This game did not quite have as many runs scored as the last meeting, but it was just as much, if not more, fun.

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