Saturday, December 16, 2017
Colleges

Bethune-Cookman beats Florida A&M in Florida Classic

ORLANDO — To hear the Bethune-Cookman players talk about their 21-16 victory over rival Florida A&M in Saturday's Florida Classic, you'd think there was nothing to it.

"Easy as pie," is how B-CU running back and Classic MVP Isidore Jackson summed it up, and the celebration was somewhat muted after a fairly businesslike victory.

The win marked the third time B-CU has beaten FAMU in consecutive years in a series that started in 1925.

Former Jefferson High standout Quentin Williams threw for 120 yards and one touchdown, and he also rushed for 86 yards as the Wildcats improved to 9-2 overall and 8-0 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference for the first time in 29 years.

But there wasn't a lingering party on the Citrus Bowl field. Within minutes of the trophy presentations, the field was nearly clear of all team personnel.

But this is what Bethune-Cookman coach Brian Jenkins preaches to his players. They are expected to win games and take care of business.

"All I did was I went out, and I did what I was supposed to," said Jackson, who had 77 yards on 13 carries and 41 yards on three receptions. "My offensive line blocked great for me, and I did exactly what a running back is supposed to do. I didn't know I was going to win (MVP). I only had 77 yards. What is that? That's nothing, really."

Jenkins called Jackson's number on a key fourth-and-3 play in the third quarter and the 5-foot-9, 190-pound junior took advantage of a block on the outside by receiver Eddie Poole to run untouched for a 34-yard touchdown that gave B-CU its first lead at 14-10.

"We (saw) that they only had one man out there and the safety was in the box," Jackson said. "That's one of our best plays and (Jenkins) called it. … Eddie Poole with a great block on the outside, and it was just easy as pie."

Jenkins did not hesitate on another fourth-down play at the FAMU 9 in the fourth quarter, and that, too, paid off. Androni Lovett converted a fourth and 3, then went in on a 1-yard run that proved to be the deciding score.

Williams' day included a first-half, 1-yard touchdown pass to Poole.

"This is more about the team than what I did out here," he said. "We just executed the game plan, and that's pretty much all it was."

FAMU's Damien Fleming also had decent numbers, passing for 166 yards, including a 37-yard touchdown to Dwayne Harvey that got the Rattlers within striking distance with 8:04 reaming. Fleming completed 18 of 23 passes.

FAMU (4-7, 4-4) flirted with the upset, leading B-CU 10-7 at halftime and cutting the Wildcats' lead to 21-16 late.

However, B-CU held on to ruin FAMU interim coach Earl Holmes' first Classic in charge. Holmes stepped in for Joe Taylor after his retirement 10 days ago.

"You can't get too high with the highs and can't get too low with the lows," Holmes said. "We gave ourselves an opportunity to win today, but we just came up short."

Attendance for the game, recognized as one of the nation's top Black College Football Classics, was announced at 32,317, the lowest since the 1993 game drew 31,264. The absence of the FAMU band, suspended for a year after the hazing death of drum major Robert Champion here last year, played a major role in the attendance declined.

Champion was remembered with a moment of silence before kickoff, and R&B artist Charlie Wilson performed in the FAMU band. During its set, the Bethune-Cookman band spelled out "LOVE" to Florida A&M fans and played the Rattlers' alma mater.

"What happens to one (Historically Black College/University) happens to us all," said B-CU band public address announcer Glenn Walker. "Florida A&M, we love you."

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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