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.