All posts by Royal A. Shepherd

Royal is the Production Director for Franchise Sports and the Content Writer for the Florida Chamber of Commerce. He grew up in Pompano Beach, Fla and is a lifelong Miami Heat, Kansas City Royals (for obvious reasons), Miami Marlins, University of Miami football and Green Bay Packers fan. He is a former staff writer for the Augusta Chronicle in Augusta, Ga. and the Tallahassee Democrat daily newspapers. He encourages interaction with his readers via twitter (@RoyalShepherdFS) and Instagram (same handle). Father of one.

Rattlers Win Conference Opener Against Savannah State

Royal A. Shepherd (RoyalShepherdFS on Twitter), Director

TALLAHASSEE, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net) – After a disappointing loss to Jackson State last week, FAMU entered conference play against Savannah State on Saturday. The Rattler offense exploded in the second half to pull out a 31-13 win over the Tigers.

The game was the classic tale of two halves for FAMU. Quarterback Ryan Stanley went 7 of 12 for 37 and two interceptions through the first two periods. The entire offense totaled only 76 yards on 26 plays before the break. He would finish the contest 14 of 20 for 166 yards and added a touchdown pass.

The Rattlers would score 28 of their points after halftime, in large part because of the efforts of redshirt sophomore running back Bishop Bonnett. Bonnett had 94 yards on the ground on nine carries with a rushing touchdown. He added two catches for 70 yards and a receiving score as well, including a 69-yard reception in the third to help jumpstart FAMU’s offense.

Bonnet was awarded the game ball and said he would give it to his daughter. He said his habits made it so that the results were no surprise. 

“That’s all I do is work and watch film,” Bonnett said. “I can’t really say that I’m on an emotional high because I expected this. We were supposed to beat them like that.”

FAMU head coach Willie Simmons heaped praise on Bonnett’s work off the field. He said Bonnett doesn’t allow his 5-foot-9-inch frame to stop him from making an impact on the field.

“He is kind of the heartbeat of this football team. He is small in stature but big in heart. He shows that regardless of the situation he comes to work every day and I couldn’t be more proud of him,” Simmons said. “I’m not surprised because I see it every day in practice.”

Redshirt freshman Xavier Smith led the FAMU receiving corps with five catches for 47 yards. Marcus Williams hauled in four passes for 44 yards.

In addition to Bonnett, FAMU running backs Devin Bowers and Deshawn Smith contributed to the Rattlers 186 yards on the ground. Bowers carried the ball eight times for 53 yards and Smith had seven runs for 28 yards and a touchdown.

Punter Chris Faddoul, the conference leader in average yards per punt at 38.2, punted five times for 231 yards and a long of 55 yards.  He averaged 46.2 yards per punt on the evening.

Simmons said to have Faddoul on the roster is a huge advantage for the Rattlers. He even put him in the class of some of the collegiate football elites.

“Averaging almost 50 yards a punt, Chris continues to punt at an All-American level,” Simmons said. “He continues to flip the field for us and it’s a huge weapon.”

Savannah State played two quarterbacks throughout the night. TJ Bell threw for 88 yards on 7 of 15 passing with an interception and D’vonn Gibbons went 5 of 13 for 65 yards.

Gibbons led the ground attack for the Tigers with 13 carries for 94 yards. Treveyon Pratt has one reception for 36 yards while D’Andre had three catches for 19 yards. 

The Tigers kicked off the game’s scoring on a four-yard touchdown run by JaMichael Baldwin at the 9:15 mark in the first quarter to give SSU a 7-0 lead.

FAMU kicker Yahia Aly got FAMU on the board with a 27-yard field goal with 2:45 left in the second quarter to bring the score to 7-3. It would remain that way going into the half.

Stanley hit Bonnett up the middle seam for a 69-yard touchdown in the third quarter to give the Rattlers their first lead of the game at 10-7. 

After forcing the Tigers into a three and out, Smith plowed his way into the endzone from one yard out late in the third quarter to push the Rattlers’ lead to 17-7. Running back Azende Rey added a four-yard touchdown run early in the fourth to increase the lead to 24-7.

With 6:31 left in the game, SSU sophomore running back Jaylen McCloud closed the gap to 24-13 with a two-yard rushing score. FAMU responded less than a minute later with a nine-yard rushing score by Bonnett to push the lead to 31-13.

FAMU will travel to Durham, NC to face conference foe North Carolina Central in a 1 p.m. kickoff.

Willie Taggart and Noles Get First Win of The Season


Royal A. Shepherd (RoyalShepherdFS on Twitter), Director

TALLAHASSEE, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net) – Willie Taggart’s offense got its first touchdown of the season after 70 minutes, 57 seconds of game time. He also collected his first win as the head coach at FSU.

A 33-point favorite, Florida State didn’t lead the game until the fourth quarter in the 36-26 nailbiter win over the Samford Bulldogs at Doak Cambell Stadium on Saturday.

Taggart said the slugfest was a solid first win for his team. He acknowledged the team’s desire to play better on offense, but said he would take the wins however they come.

“Good win for the Noles,” he said. “It was good to see our guys find a way to come back and get a win after we started slow and weren’t playing as well. I thought it was a great team victory.”

Offensively, FSU continued to struggle up front. Despite only giving up one sack, Seminole quarterback Deandre Francois was hit frequently. He would finish the game 31-46 for 320 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Cam Akers paces the Noles on the ground with 76 yards on 14 carries. In total, the team had 134 rushing yards, averaging 3.8 yards a carry.  

The Noles gave up 525 yards of total offense to the Bulldogs, including 475 through the air from senior quarterback Devlin Hodges. Hodges completed 39 of 60 passes with two touchdowns and four interceptions. 

Samford scored on its first play from scrimmage on a 54-yard bomb from Hodges to senior receiver and Bradenton native, Kelvin McKnight. Cooper Cross failed to connect on the extra point attempt, leaving the score at 6-0. 

Royal A. Shepherd | Franchise Sports Tallahassee
FSU lines up late in the fourth quarter.

The Bulldogs would get another score in the first when senior running back Roland Adams plowed his way into the endzone from two yards out. This time Cross would convert the PAT, increasing the lead to 13-0.

The Seminoles would get their first touchdown of the season on a 27-yard hookup from quarterback Deondre Francois to wideout Tamorrion Terry to cut the Bulldogs lead to six.

Freshman kicker Mitchell Fineran added a 30-yard field goal to push the Bulldog lead to 16-7.

The Noles would trim the lead when Francois scored on an 8-yard keeper, cutting the deficit to two and bringing the score to 16-14. 

Despite Florida State’s back-to-back scores, Samford continued its onslaught with a 27-yard touchdown from Hodges to McKnight to extend the lead to 23-14. It was the pair’s second touchdown connection.

Francois would find Terry again in the second quarter on a 15-yard strike for a touchdown to cut the lead again to 23-21, where it would remain until halftime. 

Fineran’s late field goal with 7:58 left in the game gave Samford a 26-21 lead. 

 FSU would get the go-ahead touchdown with 4:03 left in the game when Francois found tight end Tre McKitty on a 5-yard pass into the endzone.  It gave the Noles a 29-26 lead, their first of the game.

McKitty said the play was designed for him and his only job was to make a play on the ball. 

“I was the first read,” McKitty said. “As soon as we left the huddle I knew the ball was coming to me.”

LeVonta Taylor returned an interception for a touchdown in the game’s final minutes to salt it away.

During a break in the game, Florida State played a video tribute for former Nole Burt Reynolds. Reynolds died on Thursday at the age of 82.

Samford will take on the Mercer Bears in their next contest. Florida State will travel to New York for a conference matchup against the Syracuse Orange in a noon kickoff on Sept. 15.

Photo Gallery: FSU vs. Virginia Tech

Royal A. Shepherd (RoyalShepherdFS on Twitter), Director

TALLAHASSEE, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net) –

 

Defense Leads FAMU To Opening Day Win Over Fort Valley State

Royal A. Shepherd (RoyalShepherdFS on Twitter), Director

TALLAHASSEE, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net) – Florida A&M University head football coach Willie Simmons’ calling card has always been his offense. On Saturday, it was the former quarterback’s defense that shined in the Rattlers’ 41-7 win over the Fort Valley State Wildcats in Bragg Memorial Stadium.

Royal A. Shepherd | Franchise Sports Tallahassee
FAMU stops the Fort Valley State Drive with a blocked field goal to keep the Wildcats scoreless.

FAMU’s defensive unit didn’t allow a single rushing yard from the Wildcat offense on the day. Fort Valley totaled -12 rushing yards in the game and 291 total yards on 55 offensive plays. Five different Wildcats ended the game with negative net yardage in the ground. 

Despite this being Simmons’ first game at the helm, the team was clicking on all cylinders. Simmons said he is anxious to see where the team can go after this.

“These guys have worked extremely hard since I got here in December. They’re committed to doing things the right way. They’re committed to transforming this program to another level,” Simmons said. “They say the biggest jump for a team is from week one to week two. So I’m excited to see how big of a jump that we can make now that we have a game under our belt before the game next week.”

Sophomore linebacker Derrick Mayweather led the attack with five total tackles, including one tackle for loss and a sack. Freshman Kendrick Kelly also added five tackles while Senior linebacker Antonio Miller chipped in four tackles and a sack.

The Rattler defense also caused two turnovers and a safety. They forced two fumbles, recovering one, and senior defensive back Orlando McKinley picked off a pass midway through the second quarter. 

Mayweather said the performance from the defense started before the game even kicked off. He said this should be the start of how the defense will look to play all season.

“We just wanted to be laser-focused going in. On defense, we knew we had to play our assignments perfectly. Even if we were wrong, we just wanted to play fast to make a play. We tried to fly around every time,” Mayweather said. “We really set a tone to let everyone know that we are here and we are coming.” 

Not to be outdone, the Rattler’s new up-tempo offense was on full display in the contest. Redshirt junior quarterback Ryan Stanley was efficient all game until he was replaced late in the fourth with the game well in hand. Stanley finished the night 11-20 for 115 yards and two touchdowns. 

“I feel like overall it was a good game. The scoreboard shows 41-7 but there are a lot of missed opportunities that you can’t have against teams like Troy,” Stanley said. “I missed a few throws to Chad [Hunter] tonight early in the first and second quarter. If you miss those opportunities, it could lose you a game. We got the win tonight, so we will enjoy it.”

FAMU (1-0) rushed for 293 yards as a team, led by redshirt sophomore running back Bishop Bonnett’s 81 yards. Redshirt sophomore receiver Azende Rey added 40 yards on one carry and redshirt junior Hans Supre had 37 yards on the ground.   

Redshirt freshman receiver Xavier Smith paced the receiving corps with 2 catches for 35 yards and a touchdown. Rey hauled in three passes for 25 yards and redshirt sophomore Ricky Henrilus, in his first game lining up at wideout for the orange and green after converting from running back, caught two balls for 28 yards.  

FAMU kicker Yahia Aly converted kicks of 38, 43, 24, 29, 26 and 29 yards to help give the Rattler offense a boost and set the new FAMU record for the number of field goals made in a game with six.

“As I was running out to kickoff after my fifth field goal, I heard the guy talking about the new record. I looked at the time to see if we had time left just to make sure. When I got the chance I executed and I feel very happy about it,” Aly said. “I’m also glad to have my snapper and holder. Without them, I couldn’t have done this.”

Fort Valley senior quarterback Slade Jarman completed 17-27 passes for 303 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Most of Slade’s passes connected with freshman Lorenzo Smothers. Smothers ended the day with six catches for 207 yards.

Henrilus kicked the scoring off with a one-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Aly connected on his first two kicks in the second quarter to put the Rattlers up two scores.  A lightning delay paused the game’s action with 5:05 left in the second and the Rattlers up 13-0.

Fort Valley (0-1) scored on its first possession once play resumed. Jarman found Smothers for a 92-yard touchdown pass, making the score 13-7. It would be the Wildcats only score of the game.

On the Rattlers’ next drive, Stanley found Smith for a 28-yard touchdown pass at the 2:15 mark in the second, his first of the season. FAMU took a 20-7 lead into halftime. 

In the third, Stanley threw his second touchdown of the game, a nine-yard strike to redshirt junior receiver Marcus Williams. Aly added his third and fourth field goals before the end of the period. 

The final period saw junior defensive back Elijah Daniels add a safety to the Rattlers dominant defensive outing and Aly connect on his fifth and, record-setting sixth field goals. 

The Rattlers will travel to Troy, Ala. to take on the Troy Trojans next Saturday at 6 p.m. CST. The game will be broadcast on ESPN Plus. 

FAMU vs. FVSU First Half Photo Galley

Royal A. Shepherd (RoyalShepherdFS on Twitter), Director

TALLAHASSEE, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net) – 

VIDEO: FAMU Weekly Press Conference Highlights

Royal A. Shepherd (RoyalShepherdFS on Twitter), Director

TALLAHASSEE, FLA., (www.franchisesportsonline.net) – 

 

Highlights of FAMU head football coach Willie Simmons, Quarterback Ryan Stanley and Middle Linebacker Jabreel Hazly talking about their week 1 matchup against Fort Valley State. Full press conference can be found on our YouTube page.