WASHINGTON – After a tough homecoming loss, coach Mike London and the Howard University Football team rebounded with a 31-23 victory over conference leader Florida A&M (FAMU) at Greene Stadium.
“It’s huge,” London expressed after the game. “In this conference, you better bring your ‘A’ game every Saturday. It was disappointing last week, but to beat the number one team at our place, [and] celebrate with our fans and players, it’s really special.”
With the win, HU (4-4, 4-2 MEAC) gave the Rattlers (6-3, 5-1 MEAC) their first conference loss of the season while keeping their Celebration Bowl hopes alive.
“I’m proud of this team,” London continued. “[We] lost all our linebackers except one, our best corner [Bryan Cook] was out, and [we were] playing a true freshman on their best receiver [Chad Hunter]. I’m out there holding my breath and those guys are out there playing. [It’s] true to the next guy up mentality.”
Despite giving up nearly 450 total yards offensively to the Rattlers, Howard’s defense made stops down the stretch and held Florida A&M to only six points after intermission.
“The defense was put in some uphill positions, but they were able to respond back,” said London. They did a phenomenal job. This is one of the games that all three elements had to contribute. This win was truly a team effort.”
Offensively, the Bison racked up 420 total yards, including 247 on the ground. Sophomore tailback Dedrick Parson (Philadelphia) led the way with a game-high 149 yards and a TD.
“He’s been like that all year,” London stated on Parson’s performance. “He’s had some phenomenal games for us. It’s refreshing to see a young man [with] that never says die and never quit attitude. [It] is the epitome of what effort is and hanging in there. I’m so proud of him.”
HU capitalized all four chances inside the red zone, including three touchdowns.
FAMU took the early lead, 7-0, but a pair of touchdown passes from second-year signal caller Caylin Newton and an 11-yard TD run by Parson gave HU a 21-10 advantage after one.
After Florida A&M trimmed the margin before halftime, 21-17, Howard extended the lead back to double digits with a 1-yard QB sneak over the top from Newton on fourth down, 28-17.
Early into the fourth, FAMU answered and sliced the deficit down to a one-possession game after a 15-yard TD pass from Ryan Stanley to Xavier Smith, 28-23.
Freshman kicker Faraji Joseph pushed the lead to eight, 31-23, after a 24 yarder.
FAMU’s next possession ended with a touchback interception by newcomer Jalen Smith, followed by a turnover on downs with under a minute remaining.
Junior wideouts Kyle Anthony and Jequez Ezzard each scored a TD while safety Tye Freeland led the defense with nine tackles (eight solo), a forced fumble, and INT in the victory.
On Nov. 10, Howard goes to Norfolk, Va. for their final road test at Norfolk State. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.
Courtesy: Howard Athletics