ORLANDO — Defense wins championships, and Bethune-Cookman is back in the Division I-AA playoffs after shutting down Florida A&M on Saturday in the Florida Classic.
Quentin Williams and Isidore Jackson each rushed for two touchdowns as the Wildcats downed the Rattlers 29-10 in front of an announced 45,321.
The Wildcats (10-2, 7-1 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) defeated the Rattlers (3-9, 2-6) for the third consecutive time, earned a share of the conference title and clinched a berth in the I-AA playoffs next week.
It will be B-CU's third appearance in the playoffs in the past four years. It lost to New Hampshire in 2010 — Brian Jenkins' first season as Wildcats coach — and Coastal Carolina last year.
Williams rushed for 70 yards and completed 7 of 10 for 95 more. Jackson gained 96 yards on 29 carries as the Wildcats held the ball for 36:48 and outgained FAMU 289-89.
The Rattlers' lone touchdown was defensive back Jonathan Pillow's 45-yard fumble return in the third quarter. FAMU's offense never got inside the Wildcats 30.
"We knew we could play defense like we did today," said Jenkins, whose team has won 10 games twice in his four-year tenure. "When you have coaches like I do for defense, you can only have confidence they're going to play lights-out."
FAMU capitalized on a Wildcats fumble for a 3-0 lead with 9:58 left in the first quarter. B-CU then took over.
Williams scored on runs of 10 and 17 yards to cap scoring drives of 79 and 66 yards on the next two possessions. After recovering a fumble on the FAMU 16, Bethune-Cookman took a 21-3 lead on a 3-yard Jackson run. B-CU's defense held the Rattlers to three first downs and 34 yards in the first half.
Williams left the game after giving up the fumble on a hard hit that Pillow took in for the touchdown. B-CU struggled on offense most of the second half.
"I'm a little disappointed with the offense and a little disappointed with (Williams)," Jenkins said. "Quentin could run into a brick truck and get up."
"We never found a tempo on offense where we could move the ball down the field," said FAMU coach Earl Holmes.
B-CU will find out its playoff opponent today. "Believe it or not, I'm going to take a breather," Jenkins said. "Then we'll see what's in store for us."