TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – The Florida A&M University football team trailed early in the fourth quarter, but a Ryan Stanley 17-yard touchdown pass to Xavier Smith capped the rally as the Rattlers defeated Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) foe Southern, 27-21, in front of a packed house at Bragg Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
The Rattlers (2-1) led 19-7 at the half, but watched Southern (1-3) score two second-half touchdowns to pull ahead, 21-19, with 14:53 remaining.
After both teams traded punts, Florida A&M took over at their own 19-yard line with 8:03 remaining. The Rattlers marched 81 yards as FAMU completed a 3rd-and-5 from the Southern 36 as Stanely connected with Kaleob Parker for five yards.
Three plays later, Smith caught the 17-yard strike from Stanley to give the Rattlers a 25-21 lead with 3:32 left. Instead of kicking the extra point, FAMU head coach Willie Simmons elected to go for the two-point conversions. Azende Rey found a diving Kamari Young in the endzone to give the Rattlers a 27-21 advantage.
On the ensuing Southern offensive possession, the Jaguars started on their own 9, but went backward. After a false start penalty, Ladarius Skelton was sacked by Isaiah Land for a 2-yard loss and tackled for no gain as Florida A&M forced a punt.
Davonne Kendrick carried the ball three times for 16 yards as the Rattlers ran out the final 1:34 to give Florida A&M the 27-21 victory.
Florida A&M started strong and took a commanding 17-0 lead into the second quarter.
George Webb caught a 26-yard pass from Stanley with 10:02 left in the opening period and a Derrick Mayweather sack in the endzone gave the Rattlers a 9-0 advantage with 9:54 remaining.
Ray capped the first-quarter scoring on a 2-yard run and the two-point conversion run by Chris Faddoul gave FAMU a 17-0 lead with 2:17 remaining.
Southern capped a 10-play, 99-yard drive as Glendon McDaniel scored on a 1-yard run to cut the deficit to 17-7 with a little over eight minutes left in the first half.
The Rattlers took advantage of a botched Jaguar punt and converted it into a safety to extend the advantage to 19-7 with 3:51 remaining.
The Jaguars got a 23-yard touchdown pass from Skelton to Jamar Washington in the third quarter and a 9-yard quarterback keeper by Skeltonwith 14:53 left in the fourth quarter to grab a 21-19 lead.
That set the stage for the late-game rally, which gave the Rattlers their 34th victory over the rival Jaguars.
Florida A&M jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter as it appeared the game would be a blowout.
But true to fashion in this rivalry that there would be no blowout.
Southern got a second-quarter touchdown and closed the gap to 19-7 at the half.
Two touchdowns by the Jaguars gave Southern the momentum and a 21-19 lead.
However, the Rattlers put the ball in Ryan Stanley’s hand and the red-shirt senior did the rest. He completed passes to three different receivers during the drive and capped the night with a 17-yard strike to Xavier Smith with 3:32 left.
A block in the back penalty on the ensuing kickoff meant the Jaguars would start from their own 9. Skelton completed a pass to Timothy Bedford for three yards, but a false start penalty backed Southern to its own 5. A sack by Isaiah Land and a tackle by Land for no gain forced Southern to punt the football with 1:34 left.
The Jaguars never got the ball back as the Rattlers ran out the clock.
Courtesy: FAMU Athletics