Rattlers Give Their Fans a Homecoming Victory to Savor
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook Staff Writer
There was still plenty of time left in the game – more than nine minutes, in fact – when FAMU football fans began to stroll out of Bragg Stadium.
The scene resembled the many times that they’ve had to leave early with a broken heart, knowing that there was no hope of a comeback for their team.
But this time, they went home victorious as the Rattlers snapped out of a five-game losing skid by beating Delaware State 41-13. To make the mood more festive, it came on homecoming in front of 22,678 ruckus fans last Saturday afternoon.
FAMU had not won on homecoming in the last two seasons.
“We are just happy to win a homecoming game at FAMU for sure,” said coach Alex Wood, following that expected win over a DSU team that came to Bragg without a win in five games. “We played good at times. We still have work to do, but we are just happy to get a win.”
“I’m proud of the way our kids played. They hung in there until the end. We played winning football today.”
That was on both sides of the ball, with the defense sealing the deal with the second of two interceptions that the Rattlers converted for points.
“Those were great plays big plays,” Wood said. “Knowing that we could add those points and put that cushion in place our chances of winning were much greater.”
Akil Blount’s pickoff of Hornets’ back-up, Gilbert Rivera, was the dagger with 9:04 left in the game. The stadium became deafening as Blount sprinted 75-yards for the score.
The PAT by Colby Blanton put the Rattlers on top 34-13, the largest lead they have held on an opponent this season.
“It’s just a great win,” Blount said. “Been a long time coming. We’ve just been working for this moment. We really wanted to get this one.”
As impressive as the win was, Wood said he didn’t feel a sense of relief for getting his first victory as head coach.
“Right now we’ve got to wrap this game up,” he said. “The only thing that will give me a sigh of relief is another win.”
But the sweetness of victory was on his face, although he tried not to make too much of beating the only team in the MEAC without a win.
“I would think that everybody is relatively happy,” Wood said. “I’m not happy; I’m relatively happy.”
Despite the Hornets’ two interceptions of quarterback Carson Royal, he scorched them for 229 yards in the air. He completed 14 of 31 passes, with his longest being a 76-yarder for a touchdown by Jairockeis Jones in the second quarter.
FAMU struck again in the quarter with a 35-yard field goal from Colby Blanton.
“We had a lot of energy today,” Royal said. “We came out with a lot of intentions to make plays and that’s what we did today.”
To a man, the Rattlers called the win a confidence booster. They will have this weekend off before returning to Bragg for their final home game against North Carolina A&T.
Blount said he hopes the Rattlers could take the momentum into the Oct. 31 game against the Aggies.
“My four years here, we’ve been right there; every game,” he said. “We just came up short in a lot of those games. We will take this energy; this enthusiasm and carry it into the bye week and try to finish the last quarter of the season.”