Rattlers Fall To Bison In 21-10 Homecoming Defeat

FAMU drops third straight game to Bison in disappointing performance Saturday afternoon at Bragg Stadium
Credit: Florida A&M Sports Information 
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Oct. 19) – The struggles of the 2013 Florida A&M Football team continued here Saturday afternoon, as they fell behind early en route to a bitter 21-10 Homecoming game loss to Howard University at Bragg Memorial Stadium, in which all the game’s points came in the first half.
The loss was the third straight in the series to Howard (2-6, 1-3 MEAC) for the Rattlers (2-5, 1-2), which dropped their fifth game in six tries.
Howard bolted to a 13-0 lead in the first period, capping long drives with scoring runs: a one-yard burst by William Parker with 12:47 left in the first, ending a 77-yard drive with the opening kickoff, and a 10-yard jaunt by Anthony Philyaw with 5:53 left, which ended an 80-yard march.
Kicker Chase Varnadore put FAMU on the board with six seconds left in the first period with a 33-yard field goal for a 13-3 score.
In the second period, the visiting Bison extended their lead with 10:57 left in the half on a one-yard burst by Philyaw, which capped a 75-yard drive. Philyaw then ran for the two-point conversion to vault Howard ahead, 21-3.
FAMU closed the game’s scoring at the 5:19 mark, as Lemond Buice tallied on a two-yard run to make the score 21-10 at the half.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS: A crowd of 15,332 witnessed the homecoming bout which was contested under cloudy skies with intermittent showers… The Bison wore down the Rattler defense with their ground attack, netting 254 yards on the ground to 122 for FAMU, led by Philyaw’s 121 yards on 14 carries and 2 TDs… RB James Owens led FAMU with 39 yards on four carries, followed by Al-Terek McBurse with 33 yards on 11 tries, and Buice with 30 yards on five carries and a score….
@ Howard piled up 321 total yards (254 rushing, 67 passing), while FAMU finished the day with 227 total offensive stripes (122 rushing, 105 passing)…. MEAC total offense leader QB Greg McGhee of Howard rushed for 57 yards, while passing for 67 more (124 total), while FAMU’s Damien Fleming finished with 125 total yards (105 passing, 20 rushing)…. Dennis Hall stepped up receiving wise for FAMU, leading with six catches for 55 yards….
@ FAMU safety John Ojo led with nine tackles (5 solos, 2.0 tackles for loss), followed by linebacker William Small with eight takedowns (six solos)…. Howard defensive back Ademol Olatunji led the Bison defense with seven tackles (six solos).
RATTLER SPEAK: What Rattlers said in postgame comments about Saturday’s contest.
@ QB Damien Fleming: “We got off to a bad start in the first half… They were giving us everything we wanted, we just didn’t capitalize… They adjusted in the second half and we never could sustain any drives (FAMU was 3 of 10 on third downs).”
@ LB William Smalls: “We have to play smarter, especially on third downs, to get off the field… We need to play tough and avoid giving them life.”
@ FS John Ojo: “We have to stay focused, to pay more attention to our keys on defense, to get off the field.
@ WR Dennis Hall: “I was able to make some plays today because I was open, and I wanted to win badly, so I did all that I could with my opportunities.”
@ Head coach Earl Holmes: “Basically, we started slow defensively and could have made more plays on offense…. We’re still looking for playmakers… We find ourselves needing to make a play and we aren’t doing that… You can’t start slow as we have, then not make plays when we need to…. All losses hurt whether they are at home (FAMU is 0-3 at home this year) or on the road… You prepare all week to play 60 minutes, and there are plays you simply have to make to win…. I don’t think we played well at all today as a team… It was an ugly game, and I am very disappointed…. We have to continue to work hard to improve and begin playing good, solid Rattler Football…. We have to get off the field on third downs (Howard converted 7 of 10 third downs Saturday), if want to have a chance to win.”
MEAC UPDATE: As of press time (5:45 p.m. ET), Bethune-Cookman (5-1, 2-0) was on the verge of moving into a first place tie with idle South Carolina State (5-2, 3-0), as they were pummeling visiting Savannah State, 42-7 at halftime…. Delaware State (3-4, 3-1) went into Greensboro, N.C. Saturday and pulled a 12-7 stunner over slumping North Carolina A&T (3-3, 1-3), moving into sole possession of third place…. Hampton (2-5, 2-1) knocked off cross bay rival Norfolk State, 27-17, and Morgan State (2-5, 2-1) bounced North Carolina Central, 34-22, to pull into a tie for fourth place at 2-1, the remaining contenders after seven weeks…. The second tier of clubs is led by Norfolk State (2-5, 2-2), which has dropped their last two games; North Carolina Central (3-4, 1-2) and FAMU (2-5, 1-2); North Carolina A&T (3-3, 1-3) and Howard (2-6, 1-3) are just ahead of last place Savannah State (1-7, 0-4).

WHAT’S NEXT: The Rattlers will host North Carolina A&T (3-3, 1-3 in MEAC) next Saturday in Bragg Stadium. Kickoff will be 2:

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