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'Big plays' get Florida A&M Rattlers star, Blake grad, a trio of records

ORLANDO — As days go, LeRoy Vann's was pretty good.

In Florida A&M's 58-35 win over Bethune-Cookman on Saturday in the Florida Classic, the Blake High alumnus not only contributed to the victory with an 83-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the second quarter, but put his name in the NCAA record book — not once, not twice, but three times.

By game's end, Vann held two Division I-AA single-season records by himself — combined kick returns (four Saturday, 66 total), combined kick return yardage (127 Saturday, 1,583 total) — and shared another — combined kick returns for touchdowns (one Saturday, six total).

"I like big plays," said Vann, a junior.

Apparently so.

On Vann's touchdown, which put FAMU ahead 38-13, Vann said he saw the B-CU defenders coming from one angle so he simply went in the other direction.

That's where he found a gigantic hole waiting for him.

"When I hit it, I hit it full speed and ran," Vann said.

BANDING TOGETHER: The Classic is more than a game; it's an event. And the much anticipated pregame and halftime shows from the school's respective bands are a big part of the festivities.

To say the least, neither one disappointed.

In between jam sessions, both paid tribute to the country's president-elect, Barack Obama, with emotional performances. Before the game, FAMU's famed Marching 100 formed the No. 44 on the field. (Obama will be the country's 44th president.)

At halftime, the group, which has more than 400 members, formed the United States — and had enough people left over to spell out "O-B-A-M-A" across the field.

GIVE ME AN 'O': One trend has developed at the Classic: More often than not, a lot of points will be scored.

Since 1995, the winner has scored at least 31 points in every meeting but one (2005). FAMU scored 25 more points Saturday than its season average entering the game. Despite getting clobbered, B-CU also easily topped its average (24.7).

FAMU has scored 50 or more points 11 times in the series' 62 meetings.

NOTABLE: FAMU leads the overall series, which began in 1925, 46-15-1. When the game moved to a neutral site on an annual basis in 1978, it became known as the Florida Classic. Since then, the Rattlers are 19-10 against their rivals. … First-year FAMU coach Joe Taylor is 10-4 all-time against the Wildcats. Before landing with the Rattlers, he spent the previous 16 seasons as coach at Hampton. … For the second straight year, the Classic drew fewer than 70,000 fans (60,712). Before last season's game, eight straight Classics had attendances of more than 70,000. Despite the drop, only 10 Classics have had larger crowds.

'Big plays' get Florida A&M Rattlers star, Blake grad, a trio of records 11/22/08 [Last modified: Saturday, November 22, 2008 10:19pm]
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