FAMU fans stay faithful; even for a Sunday game
By James Thomas
Vendors were on Perry Street, the Marching 100 was inside Bragg Stadium entertaining the fans and the cheerleaders never stopped trying to fire up the crowd.
Things just felt like another football Saturday afternoon. This was Sunday, though.
An announced crowd of 10,051 showed up and witnessed FAMU taken down North Carolina A&T 34-31 in overtime. The turnout for a Sunday game didn’t surprise coach Willie Simmons.
“I think everyone understands how big a game this was,” Simmons said. “Even with the adjustment of moving the game back, some of them had to hurry to get over here to the stadium.
“I can’t say enough about these fans we have.”
FAMU was forced to move the pivotal game against North Carolina A&T to Sunday due to the forecast for Tropical Storm Nestor that predicted the weather would have been too bad to play.
FAMU hadn’t played a Sunday afternoon game since the Rattlers beat Mississippi State in the 2013 MEAC-SWAC Challenge.
“When there is something to be done, we are not going to let something like a tropical storm get in our way,” FAMU President Larry Robinson said just before kickoff.
When the game got underway, fans were still trickling into the stadium. Several former FAMU football players, including Willie Ferrell, were in the crowd.
“Everything felt like a regular game day,” Ferrell said. “The vendors are out, people are tailgating, and the marching 100 had the crowd rocking. I forgot that it was Sunday.”
Throughout the game, the north end crowd was sparse. The west end had more spectators, although they were scattered. The pre-game ceremony was the same high energy by the Marching 100 band, which started performing about 20 minutes before kickoff.
Even with the game being rescheduled, athletic administrators maintained plans to dedicate the day to breast cancer awareness. The cheerleaders wore pink top. Pink also was the dominant color with fans on both sides of the stadium.
Members of the band also wore pick tops by the midway point of the first quarter.
The weather was ideal for football. Temperature at kickoff was 68 degrees.
However, tailgating was down to just a few tents. There was one fan in the stand on the west end egging on others about Aggies losing to only one team in three years, that team being FAMU which won last year 22-21 on a last-second field goal.
FAMU got the win in overtime when back-up quarterback Rasean McKay found Marcus Williams at the lip of the end zone for a 22-yard touchdown. The win extended FAMU’s streak to six.
Verna Stokes, an avid FAMU fan eagerly waited to get out of church.
“I had to hurry up and get home after church so I could make it to the game,” said Stokes, who worried when starting quarterback Ryan left the game in the fourth quarter with a minor injury. “I thought my day would be ruined, but they handled business late.”
The change in schedule kept several fans from Bragg, including FAMU alumna Kennon Griffen.
“I was excited to be able to come to Tallahassee to watch my school beat up on A&T,” said Griffen, who couldn’t reschedule his plans for Saturday. “I feel like the game could have still been played on Saturday, but I understand playing it safe for the safety of the players. I’m just glad they got the win.”
St. Clair Murraine contributed to this report.