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Taylor Proud of FAMU's Ability to Concentrate In Wild 52-49 Win over Southern
Coach told Rattlers not to let penalties rattle them.
BATON ROUGE, La. — This time there was no late field goal — just trickery and LeRoy Vann’s magic.
Vann retuned a punt 60 yards for a touchdown to ignite two quick strikes by FAMU in the fourth quarter and the Rattlers held off every comeback by Southern for a 52-49 victory Saturday night.
FAMU dodged the biggest bullet after the Jaguars marched 30 yards to FAMU’s 1 following an interception of quarterback Curtis Pulley’s pass that was intended for Philip Sylvester. But on his way to the end zone, Southern receiver (and former Godby High standout) Del Roberts lost the ball after a hit by FAMU’s Fabian Wilson.
Wilson recovered the ball and the Rattlers ran out the clock — thanks in large part to a fourth-and-1 conversion from their own 11-yard line with 1:54 remaining.
FAMU’s victory at Mumford Stadium was the third consecutive for the Rattlers on Southern’s home field. The previous two were decided on field goals in the closing minutes.
The Jaguars found themselves trailing by 31-21 at halftime Saturday night, but they stormed right back against the Rattlers. They pushed the envelope on a fourth-down play just one yard from the end zone late in the third quarter. Alvin Fosselman pushed through a pile of players to score. Just like that, Southern was up 35-31.
Later, FAMU showed the same boldness to get the score that stood.
On first-and-10 from the Southern’s 41, quarterback Curtis Pulley pitched the ball to running back Philip Sylvester who then pitched it to receiver Kevin Elliott who then passed across the field to Pulley, who was waiting at the 20. Pulley raced untouched to the end zone for what turned out to be FAMU’s final touchdown of the night.
It was the second consecutive series that Pulley directed for the Rattlers. He and Eddie Battle had been alternating possessions most of the game.
Southern responded quickly to FAMU’s trick play, with Roberts being the dagger. He took a 76-yard pass from Bryant Lee and just as quickly the Jaguars were back within a field goal at 52-49.
Things got scary for the Rattlers after Pulley was intercepted on FAMU’s next possession. But Roberts, who had a heck of a game for the Jaguars, fumbled to give the Rattlers the ball one last time.
They made the most of that final opportunity and sealed the victory.
As wacky as Saturday night’s shootout victory over Southern University turned out, not even the dramatics could overshadow the glaring number of penalties called against Florida A&M.
Five flags were dropped on the Rattlers in the third quarter for 55 yards during the 52-49 win at Mumford Stadium. In all, FAMU was flagged 13 times for 143 yards. Southern was penalized five times for 35 yards.
Coach Joe Taylor didn’t hold back expressing his disgust — but not with his players for drawing the calls. Instead, he kept encouraging them not to buckle under the flag.
“We just told them keep playing,” Taylor said. “We were just letting them know I didn’t agree with all of (the calls) so don’t get out of your tree — keep playing hard because I just thought it was ridiculous.
“I kept yelling, ‘Let them play.’ I’m proud of these guys.”
Taylor’s team gave him plenty of reasons to be proud as it won its third straight and improved to 5-2.
FAMU delivered on a reverse play, which Curtis Pulley started at quarterback and ended as receiver for a touchdown. That gave FAMU a 45-42 lead which it never relinquished.
Later, Pulley’s run on a fourth-and-1 from FAMU’s 12 wiped out whatever chance the Jaguars might have had for one last comeback. Up to that point, the lead had changed four times.
“We didn’t come over here looking for a shootout,” Taylor said, “but give them credit.”
Penalties played a significant role, too. Through the first two quarters, the Rattlers were penalized three times for 33 yards. Southern had three for 20 yards.
The penalties came at least once on every FAMU series in the third quarter after the Rattlers took a 38-35 lead on LeRoy Vann’s 66-yard punt return for a touchdown.
Southern wouldn’t lead again, but penalties continued to slow FAMU until Pulley found Andrian Smith with a 39-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.
One play before Smith scored his second touchdown of the game, a holding penalty had pushed the Rattlers back 10 yards on a first-and-1 play.
“I don’t question the officials, but I don’t coach a team that has that many penalties,” Taylor said. “I never have and I never will.”
Despite the penalties, FAMU had one of its most productive games offensively, accumulating 472 total yards.
Which was less than Southern. Defensively, the Rattlers had issues containing quarterback Bryant Lee, who completed 25 of 42 passes for 407 of the Jaguars’ 523 yards.
FAMU expected as much from Lee.
“At the press conference (earlier last week), we talked about how quickly he gets the ball out of his hands,” Taylor said. “Certainly he did that. Sometimes we were in position, but he just got the ball out so quickly.”
Safety Fabian Wilson ruined what might have been a game-winning touchdown for the Jaguars. Lee connected with Tallahassee native Del Roberts on a second-and-9 play from FAMU’s 30.
Wilson greeted Roberts with a hit that jolted the ball loose. It bounced in the direction of defensive back Curtis Holcomb, who couldn’t hold it. Wilson pounced on the ball to give possession back to the Rattlers with 1:03 to play.
The Jaguars, with no time outs left, couldn’t stop the clock.
Taylor proud of FAMU’s ability to concentrate
By St. Clair Murraine, The Tallahassee Democrat
Photo Credit: Glenn Beil/The Tallahassee Democrat
Rattlers win shootout: Florida A&M 52, Southern 49
By St. Clair Murraine, The Tallahassee Democrat