Late Field Goal Win by Eagles Extends Rattlers’ Losing Streak to Six
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook Staff Writer
Coach Alex Wood couldn’t have put it any better after his Florida A&M football team dropped its second straight game at home for its sixth consecutive loss without a win.
“It was terrible,” Wood said, following FAMU’s 27-24 loss to North Carolina Central on Saturday at Bragg Stadium. “It’s a terrible experience to come that close and not win a game. We’ve got to deal with it and try to figure out what we do next.”
FAMU held a 24-17 lead after three quarters before going scoreless in the final 15 minutes to allow the Eagles to tie the game at 24-all with 5:19 left to play. By that time, the Rattlers had knocked Eagles starting quarterback Malcolm Bell out of the game.
But on their final possession of the game, the Rattlers were forced to punt. Kicker Colby Blanton managed just 27 yards, setting up the Eagles dead on the 50-yard line. That ended a minus-2 yard drive.
The Eagles went to work with back-up Quinn Billerman under center. He engineered an eight-play drive to the Rattlers’ 3-yard line to set up a 20-yard field goal that Nigel Macauley nailed with 15 seconds left to seal the win.
“That’s what happens when you can’t play good, clean football,” Wood said. “When you’ve got a lead, you’ve got to protect it and build on it.
“But I told our players ‘don’t hang your heads unless you just didn’t play.’ I think there was enough that happened tonight; coaching and playing that we can point to as to why we were not successful.”
The loss was the first to the Eagles since 1973 and only NCCU’s second victory in the series that FAMU leads 6-2-1.
NCCU shut down the Rattlers rushing game to just 15 yards for the game, but even with that FAMU finished with 396 yards of total offense to 375 for NCCU. Thanks to quarterback Carson Royal having a career day, completing 29 of 47 attempts for 331 yards with two touchdowns.
Royal credited his offensive line that was made up of walk-ons and freshmen due to injuries.
“They did a great job working this week,” said Royal, who was intercepted once and sacked once. “They blocked who they needed to (and) gave me enough time to get the ball in the hands of guys that made plays.”
That didn’t happen enough in the fourth quarter, although the FAMU defense that harassed both NCCU quarterbacks.
“We just have to find ways to finish,” said linebacker Kashawn Butler, who intercepted Bell to set up the Rattlers’ final score in the third quarter.
The scenario that led to the Eagles getting the winning field goal was eerily similar to a week ago when NCCU was beaten on a blocked field goal by Bethune-Cookman. This time, Macauley had redemption on his mind.
“I wanted to redeem myself badly because I knew these guys wanted it,” Macauley said. “I knew they wanted it last week and I wanted to give it to them this week.”
“I’m always anticipating it; I always have it in my mind. You always have to have that mindset that you’re going to end up doing something great and win the game. Every kicker dreams of that moment and I got mine tonight.”