Simmons: OT win doesn’t define FAMU season
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
Everything about FAMU’s 34-31 victory over North Carolina A&T says it’s the kind of win that could turn out to define a football season.
The Rattlers overcame so many adversities, starting with Tropical Storm Nestor pushing back the game from Saturday to last Sunday. Then, a high-octane Aggies team showed up and ignited a halftime skirmish that resulted in the Rattlers losing three players and defensive coordinator Ralph Street for the entire second half.
Quarterback Ryan Stanley was knocked out of the game with a minor jury in the fourth quarter. That put red-shirt freshman Rasean McKay in position to make the game-winning touchdown in overtime.
Quite a lot for the Rattlers to overcome in the first Sunday game for the program since 2013. However, coach Willie Simmons wasn’t quite ready to say that the way the Rattlers turned back the top-ranked Aggies truly defines the season.
Simmons had too many memories of last season when the Rattlers won six games but couldn’t run the table.
The wins that FAMU had last season included a late field goal that beat the Aggies 22-21. Sunday’s win gives FAMU a 2-1 record in overtime meetings with the Aggies.
“This win is only as good as we continue to play,” Simmons said. “We don’t want to look back. Last year we beat these guys on the road by a last-second field goal. But nobody remembers that because of the way we finished the season.”
On Sunday, the Rattlers seemed unstoppable and by halftime had built a 21-14 lead. The defense had plenty to do with that, holding the team that has the conference’s leading rusher Jah Maine Martin in its backfield to just 66 yards after the first 30 minutes.
Linebacker Terry Jefferson led the defense with 11 tackles, five solo while he assisted on another for a loss. The goal, said Jefferson, was to hold the Aggies under 200 yards on the ground.
The Aggies 496 yards of total offense included 180 rushing. Martin finished with 71 yards.
FAMU managed 345 yards of total offense, 269 of it on passing. McKay’s 22-yard pass on a third-down play in overtime was the second touchdown for Williams.
His first was on a 21-yard pass from Azende Rey who took a flea flicker from Stanley in the backfield. That accounted for the Rattlers final score of the half.
Tempers flared throughout the first half and reached a boiling point as both teams were returning to the locker room at halftime. A skirmish broke out, resulting in six players — Elijah Bell, Frank McCain and Sephen Davis from the Aggies and the Rattlers’ Timoty Williams, Andrew Davis and Jalen Brayboy, along with
Street being ejected for the second half.
The Aggies scored two fields goals and a touchdown with a two-point conversion in the second half of regulation to force the overtime. At that point it became typical FAMU, which won its previous four games on last-second heroics.
“We know this game is not won on a whole of hoopla, hollering and doing a lot of talking,” said Jefferson. “We came out here and do what we had to do; handle our business between the whistles.
“What happened off the field was a little out of character, but we stayed true to who we were on the field and we came out with the W.”