Backup QB Stanley leads motivated Rattlers to first victory
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook Staff Writer
Nobody put FAMU’s first win in five games more succinctly than back-up quarterback Ryan Stanley, after a week in which coach Alex Wood’s unexpected comments about the Rattlers seemingly motivated them.
“You can’t get too high and you can’t get too low,” said Stanley, after leading the Rattlers to a 19-14 victory over Savannah State. “Same thing as when we were losing. Now we’ve got this win, we just got to enjoy it.”
The Rattlers (1-4 overall and 1-1 in the MEAC) must now try to extend their winning ways to two conference games on the road. They go to North Carolina Central on Saturday, October 8, followed a week later to Delaware State.
The Rattlers weren’t the only ones on Saturday savoring the victory; fans were happy too. This win was their first in eight games – dating back to an Oct. 13 win over Delaware State last season. It also was their first victory in Bragg Stadium since the 2012-13 season.
FAMU got this one in dramatic fashion with linebacker Jacquez Bryant intercepting Tigers’ quarterback T.J. Bell, with just under four minutes left in the game.
The Tigers didn’t get the ball back until the final 36 seconds – not enough time to try even a Hail Mary, considering how well the Rattlers’ defense played all night. When it was over, they limited the Tigers to just 42 yards passing and another 171 on the ground.
On the other hand, the Rattlers exploited a Savannah State defense that held Bethune-Cookman University to just 10 points a week earlier. Stanley completed 21 of 30 attempts for 230 yards of the Rattlers’ season-best 450 total offense.
Running back Hans Supre rushed for 93 yards on 15 carries, including one for a touchdown.
But the night clearly belonged to Stanley, who got to start in place of starter Kenny Colman, who sat out with a sprained ankle. Stanley looked nothing like a back-up with his performance during the Rattlers’ final possession of the first half.
He overcame a fumble during the drive; rushed when he was hurried out of the pocket; and threw his longest pass of the night for 43 yards.
FAMU came into the game with plenty of motivation, just a week after a disgusted coach Wood said he would have cut some of his players for their lack of effort in losing by 32 points against South Carolina State.
The players spun their reaction by saying the media overplayed Wood’s comments, but said it was what they needed none-the-less.
“It was very motivating across-the-board,” said Tevin Spell, whose one-yard run gave FAMU the lead for good, 13-7 in the second quarter. Everybody felt it. “Everybody became very close.”
And that closeness began in practice during the week leading up to the game against the Tigers.
“We just kept on each other,” said defensive end Elijah Price. “We never looked down on each other. We just kept each other up.”
“You can shame us all you want. Just come back fighting; that’s all we had to do no matter what anybody says from the outside. No matter who doubts us. We are going to come back fighting.”
That they did indeed at a time when the Tigers seemed to be making one last push to put the game away.
After FAMU stalled on downs at the Tigers’ 24-yard-line with 9:07 left to play, Savannah State used 5 minutes and 14 seconds to march 61 yards to FAMU’s 15. A Savannah State time out gave the Rattlers’ defense the rest it needed.
On the ensuing play, Bell took a shot at the end zone. The ball ended up in the hands of Bryant, who took it back 45 yards with 3:54 left to play.
The relief on the Rattlers sideline could be felt throughout Bragg Stadium, as the crowd erupted in a deafening cheer.
Wood was perhaps the most relieved; sensing that the pick had sealed the victory.
“It’s a good feeling,” he said. “Haven’t felt it in awhile.”