Optimism fading as Rattlers ride out season
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook Staff Writer
Opening the season with a victory over Texas Southern created an aura of optimism about the FAMU football team.
Oh things have changed, though. Drastically for the Rattlers.
Not even the 25,067 fans in Bragg Stadium could motivate them enough to avoid a 31-20 loss to North Carolina A&T. On homecoming day no less.
Since that Aug. 26 victory, the Rattlers have only one other victory. That puts them at 2-5 overall and 1-3 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
That means they aren’t going anywhere for the post-season. No Celebration Bowl. Nothing.
Only a team that plays much better and wins more than the Rattlers have lately deserves to play on a stage like the Celebration Bowl or even generate some sort of argument for a berth in the NCAA playoffs.
FAMU can’t argue about anything. The 16 penalties they racked up in Norfolk two weekends ago coupled with nine this past weekend point up a large part of their problem.
Essentially there is no one but themselves to blame. Well, with one exception an apparent touchdown that was ruled a touchback after a Devin Bowers fumble in the end zone that rolled out of bounds for a touchback.
A big game changer that gave the Aggies the momentum that FAMU could have gotten had the game’s officials called it right to put them up 14-7 late in the first quarter.
“That was big, but that was early,” said quarterback Ryan Stanley, who for the second time following a home game loss finds himself taking the blame.
“When things happen in the game you have to have tunnel vision,” he said. “You’ve got to have short-term memory.”
The problem is fans don’t forget when their team loses on homecoming. Especially when their team has just two wins at this point in the season.
It might not get any easier. Three of the remaining four games are on the road, where they’ve struggled mightily.
Wining out might just be too difficult.
It’s not as if the Rattlers don’t know how to find a resolution to their problems. Or at least attempt to.
“We just have to put our minds to it,” said running back Devin Bowers following the homecoming loss to North Carolina A&T.
Bowers admittedly has a ball-control issue, despite rushing for 100 or more yards in his last two starts.
Add to that misreads by Stanley, who threw two picks to the Aggies. Apparently the reason that coach Alex Wood benched him after he threw the second interception, which the Aggies quickly converted for a touchdown and a 28-7 lead in the second quarter.
Backup Vincent Jefferies couldn’t move the offense either and Stanley returned to finish the game.
“It’s little things,” is what Stanley offered as reason for the Rattlers’ skid. “Turnovers.”
Seemingly, though, the Rattlers are confident they could save the season.
“We just have to believe,” Stanley said. “It’s all about believing. We are here for a reason.”
Hopefully that reason is to fix their issues and finish the year with better than another three-win season.