TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Marcus Williams caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Rasean McKay for the walk-off overtime victory as the Florida A&M University football team took down the defending Black College National Champions, North Carolina A&T State, 34-31 in overtime, in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) game on Sunday afternoon at Bragg Memorial Stadium.
Florida A&M (6-1 overall, 4-0 MEAC) entered the game as the No. 2 team in the Black College Football Poll and that is sure to change after Sunday’s thrilling win. Meanwhile, North Carolina A&T State (4-2, 2-1) began the day ranked No. 10 in the STATS FCS Top 25, No. 11 in the FCS Coaches Poll and No. 1 in the Black College Football Poll.
The Rattlers, who have now won five games by a touchdown or less, has won three games over a top-ranked team at Bragg Memorial Stadium since 1997.
The game had all the intensity of a top tier matchup, which featured three ejections from both teams, along with one coach due to a brawl as the teams crossed paths at halftime.
Florida A&M got the ball to begin the game and marched 81 yards in eight plays as Xavier Smith caught a 56-yards touchdown pass from Ryan Stanley, giving the Rattlers a 7-0 lead with 10:53 remaining.
North Carolina A&T State, who controlled the clock for 39 minutes and 40 seconds on Sunday, went 72 yards in 16 plays, taking 8:47 off the clock as Kylil Carter scored on a 1-yard run, tying the game at 7 with exactly two minutes left in the opening quarter.
Back came the Rattlers as Stanley connected with David Manigo for a 5-yard score to give FAMU a 14-7 advantage with 30 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Aggies quickly responded as Jah-Maine Martin scored on a 9-yard touchdown run, tying the game at 14 with just under 13 minutes remaining in the first half.
Florida A&M answered with some trickery on its next drive as Stanley pitched the ball to Azende Rey in the backfield, who found Williams in the end zone for the 21-yard touchdown strike, giving the Rattlers a 21-14 advantage with 11:04 remaining.
North Carolina A&T State had an opportunity right before the break to cut the deficit, but Noel Ruiz’s 46-yarder missed wide left to keep FAMU on top, 21-14.
The Aggies trimmed the margin to 21-17 after Ruiz booted a 26-yarder with 4:01 remaining in the third.
Florida A&M marched 63 yards in 10 plays as Terrell Jennings scored on a 2-yard run to extend the lead to 28-17 with 14:54 left in the final quarter.
The Aggies refused to go away quietly as Kashon Baker scored on a 36-yard run and with the 2-point conversion, North Carolina A&T State had trimmed the deficit to 28-25 with 10:27 remaining.
Unable to move the football, FAMU punted the ball to the Aggies 11 with 5:39 left.
North Carolina A&T State’s offense moved the ball to the FAMU 7, but with two incomplete passes, settled for a 24-yard field by Ruiz to send the game into overtime.
The Aggies opened the extra period with the ball and got a 32-yard field goal from Ruiz to grab a 31-28 lead.
On FAMU’s overtime possession, Davonne Kendrick rushed for three yards and after an incomplete pass, the Rattlers were faced with a third-and-7 from the NCAT 22. Williams broke to his right on the third-down play as McKay’s pass was on time for the diving touchdown.
Before FAMU could fully celebrate, the touchdown play went under review with the initial call on the field being ruled a touchdown. About a minute later, it was confirmed a touchdown and the Rattler bench erupted as head coach Willie Simmons fell to the ground, elated FAMU pulled off the overtime win.