Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Rattlers wrest share of MEAC

Philip Sylvester gets loose for some of his 146 yards as the Rattlers spoiled Bethune-Cookman’s bid for a perfect regular season.

Associated Press

Philip Sylvester gets loose for some of his 146 yards as the Rattlers spoiled Bethune-Cookman’s bid for a perfect regular season.

ORLANDO — Florida A&M running back Philip Sylvester almost spent more time going backward than forward during the first half of Saturday's Florida Classic.

But when a force begins to take motion, something has to give, and in this case it was the Bethune-Cookman defense.

Sylvester had 2 rushing yards at halftime, and it looked like his string of five 100-yard games was in jeopardy. But some halftime adjustments and patience got Sylvester moving forward, and his 144 second-half yards sparked an upset of previously unbeaten B-CU 38-27.

The Rattlers' (8-3, 7-1) victory, before a Citrus Bowl crowd of 61,712 at the 31st Florida Classic, gave them a one-third share of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference championship.

Bethune-Cookman (10-1, 7-1), which clinched a tie for the title a week ago, earns the league's automatic bid to the Division I-AA playoffs because of the conference's tiebreaker policies. The Wildcats will learn who their playoff opponent is this morning, while South Carolina State (9-2, 7-1), the other team sharing a third of the MEAC crown, will wait with FAMU to see if they made the field.

"We just wanted to come out here and get a piece of that MEAC championship," said Sylvester, the game MVP. "… Thank you, Rattler nation, for not giving up on us."

And it could have.

After Sylvester's 9-yard touchdown run and an Austin Trainor-to-Antonio Lawrence touchdown pass, FAMU led 14-6 in the first quarter.

But thanks to mistakes and penalties by the Rattlers, B-CU scored three straight second-quarter touchdowns, the last one a 35-yard pass from Matt Johnson to Eddie Poole, and the Wildcats went ahead 27-14 by halftime.

"We were hoping to hit some passes in there to loosen it up (in the second half)," FAMU coach Joe Taylor said of his team's 14 yards rushing in the first half. "They were just loading the box … eight, nine in there and rushing on us. After we made a few first downs I thought they were getting somewhat winded, and that's when we started to hand off."

That was mainly to Sylvester.

On the Rattlers' second drive of the second half, Sylvester carried three times for 12, 11 and 13 yards, respectively, the latter finding the end zone and the Rattlers were within 27-24.

"We came out throwing in the second half, and once we got them to change the defense, we just put the ball in Philip's hands and let him do his thing," said Trainor, who threw for 261 yards, connecting on 19-of-38 attempts with a touchdown.

Then came the big hit.

Johnson, B-CU's quarterback and the MEAC offensive player of the year, hit Poole for 45 yards and the Wildcats were threatening midway through the third quarter. That's when FAMU's 6-foot-5, 275-pound defensive end Kendrick Washington chased down Johnson, forcing him to fumble and injuring the QB's shoulder.

FAMU's Marquiste Ramos picked up the loose ball and ran 56 yards to the B-CU 22-yard line. FAMU failed to capitalize, but the damage had been done.

"Our offense didn't move the ball after losing our quarterback," B-CU coach Brian Jenkins said. "… Jackie (Wilson) our backup quarterback also had a highly severe sprained ankle early. When those two guys were healthy you see we were moving the ball, they couldn't stop us."

Without them, the Wildcats had minus-12 yards the rest of the way.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Rattlers wrest share of MEAC 11/20/10 [Last modified: Saturday, November 20, 2010 10:50pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Lightning edges Red Wings on road

    Lightning Strikes

    DETROIT — The digs were different, the Lightning seeing the masterfully-done new Little Caesar's Arena for the first time.

    Lightning center/Red Wings’ killer Tyler Johnson gets past defenseman Trevor Daley on his way to the first goal of the game.
  2. Armwood pulls away to defeat Plant 27-7, remain undefeated


    SEFFNER — First-year Armwood coach Evan Davis pulled out all the stops to get his team psyched for Monday's annual grudge match against Plant.

    Armwood defensive end Malcolm Lamar (97) gets fired up before the start of the game between Plant High School Panthers and the Armwood High School Hawks in Suffer, Fla. on Monday, Oct. 16, 2017.
  3. Bucs journal: Dirk Koetter says Vernon Hargreaves needs to improve


    TAMPA — The Bucs now rank 31st in the NFL in pass defense, allowing 301 yards per game in their 2-3 start, and coach Dirk Koetter was asked Monday how concerned he is with the play of second-year CB Vernon Hargreaves.

    Ryan Fitzpatrick, throwing an incompletion under pressure after replacing injured Jameis Winston against the Cardinals,  would start this Sunday in Buffalo if Winston’s shoulder is still bothering him.
  4. Backhand shot makes Nikita Kucherov's offense even more dangerous

    Lightning Strikes

    DETROIT — Nikita Kucherov is on a historic streak, just the fourth player in the past 30 years to score a goal in each of his first six games.

    Nikita Kucherov’s backhand shot adds to his strong scoring.
  5. Rick Pitino officially fired by Louisville amid federal corruption probe


    In an expected move, the University of Louisville Athletic Association's Board of Directors on Monday voted unanimously to fire men's basketball coach Rick Pitino. The decision came 19 days after Louisville acknowledged that its men's basketball program was being investigated as part of a federal corruption probe and …

    In this Oct. 20, 2016, file photo, Louisville head basketball coach Rick Pitino reacts to a question during a press conference in Louisville, Ky. Louisville's Athletic Association on Monday officially fired Pitino, nearly three weeks after the school acknowledged that its men's basketball program is being investigated as part of a federal corruption probe. [AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File]