FAMU turns attention to Aggies’ Cohen after homecoming victory
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
The challenge ahead for FAMU this weekend will be to stop North Carolina A&T’s high octane offense led by record-setting running back Tarik Cohen.
Not even a homecoming victory this past Saturday was enough to make the Rattlers ignore Cohen. In fact, it was one of the hot locker room topics immediately after FAMU beat Hampton University 31-14 for its second straight win.
“I won’t lie,” said safety Jacques Bryant, breaking from the celebratory mood he was in. “If we don’t keep our focus, he will run up the score on us.”
Perhaps not, considering how much the Rattlers’ defense tormented the Pirates and limited them to touchdowns in the second and fourth quarters in front a crowd of 26,044 ruckus fans at Bragg Stadium.
Two weeks ago, Cohen became the 26th running back in FCS history to carry the ball for more than 5,000 yards in a career. During the win over Howard University, Cohen also became the 10th player in FCS history to record four consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.
But for the rest of this week, the Rattlers can savor beating Hampton in a game that coach Alex Wood said is proof they are turning the corner. FAMU, which started the season with four straight losses, improved to 3-5 overall but more importantly sits at 3-2 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference standings.
“It was a great win for us,” Wood said. “Where we are right now and the things that we need to get done, the gains we need to make I think we made them today.
“We’ve got to take this momentum and really build on it. We truly got better today as a team. We are excited about it.”
Freshman quarterback Ryan Stanley, who started the season as back-up to Kenny Coleman, was remarkable. He completed 18 of 31 attempts for 212 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 20 yards on eight carries.
The Rattlers took the lead for good in the third quarter, breaking a 7-7 tie when Stanley found Brandon Norwood on a 15-yard pass. That capped a drive that covered 80 yards on 10 plays.
FAMU scored on each of its five trips into the red zone, the last two times on runs of two yards each by Hans Supre and Tevin Spell.
Hampton looked to be homecoming spoilers, but the Rattlers’ defense wouldn’t be denied. The unit recorded seven tackles for loss and sacked each of the two Hampton quarterbacks once.
The first sign that the unit wasn’t going to be easy came in the second quarter when Hampton took 8 minutes and 18 seconds off the clock to score the tying touchdown.
“It was hard, but we got subs in,” said defensive end Calvin Darville of having to endure more than half of the quarter on the field . “That (substitutions) made it a lot easier.”
Hampton was mounting one last threat when Jayl Williamson’s misread his target and threw the ball into the hands of Bryant.
He didn’t get the ball only because Williamson couldn’t find his man, Bryant said, insisting that he was merely following instructions.
“Coach told us go attack the ball,” he said. “The quarterback made the wrong read by throwing it to me.”