Saturday's homecoming crowd at Bragg Memorial Stadium saw Florida A&M University finally put it all together. The Rattlers defeated South Carolina State 37-17 before 28,150 fans. Quite simply, FAMU was impressive in earning its third consecutive victory:
Quarterback Tony Ezell passed for 232 yards and threw two 34-yard touchdown passes.
Early in the third quarter, Craig Hall's fake punt try resulted in a 92-yard touchdown to Chuck Duffy.
After allowing 10 points in the first quarter, the defense stiffened, allowing just one touchdown the rest of the way.
Placekicker Jimmy Vertuno scored 13 points (three field goals and four point-after tries) and became the school's all-time leading scorer with 208 points.
Rattlers coach Ken Riley is pleased with his team's current standing.
"We're happy to be 4-3," said Riley, whose team plays winless Morgan State in Miami next week. "It's been a long haul, but we still have a long way to go. We're not going to start taking anybody lightly."
For its efforts, FAMU is 4-3, 3-0 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. SCSC is 4-3, 2-2 in the MEAC.
Riley said Duffy's touchdown was the clincher. "That took the wind from them. I had waved off the play from the sidelines, but Craig kept it in."
FAMU turned three first-half interceptions into 10 points. Free safety William Carroll snagged two of Bulldogs' quarterback Ron York's errant passes.
Tim Daniel's catch helped give FAMU a 17-10 halftime lead.
Ezell threw an interception on FAMU's first possession and the Bulldogs took advantage, scoring the first points of the game on a 27-yard field goal by William Wrighten.
The Rattlers' second possession ended when Vertuno's 45-yard field-goal attempt sailed right. But on the next play, FAMU's Jason Turnipseed intercepted a York pass and returned it to the Bulldogs' 25. Moments later, Vertuno booted a game-tying, 38-yard field goal.
A big play early was Carroll's first interception at the FAMU 34 to end a possible SCSC scoring drive. But a clipping penalty on the return moved the ball back to the FAMU 14.
But two big running plays nullified that mistake.
Ezell scrambled for 27 yards to begin the fireworks; two plays later, Rasul juked left and raced right for a 44-yard touchdown. It gave FAMU a brief 10-3 lead; on the ensuing kickoff, SCSC's Orell Lumpkin bobbled the football, then returned it 88 yards for the tying touchdown.
Albany St. 36, B-CC 6
DAYTONA BEACH _ Division II Albany State proved its 34-0 win over Bethune-Cookman last season was not a fluke by manhandling the Division I-AA Wildcats in a 36-6 thrashing at Municipal Stadium.
Clarence Tiller rushed for the first two touchdowns of his college career to lead the Golden Rams.
Albany State improved to 4-3, while B-CC had its losing streak extended to five games _ its longest skid since another five-game slide in 1987.
"They beat us in every phase of the game," Bethune-Cookman coach Larry Little said. "I don't think we could have played any worse, but Albany State had a lot to do with it."
Albany State's domination began with the help of Tiller, who put the Golden Rams on the scoreboard with a 36-yard touchdown scamper off a pitch to the left side. Tiller's first score of the season capped a 70-yard march on seven plays and came with 48 seconds left in the first quarter.
Tiller added a 13-yard scoring run off a pitch to the right side with just 10 seconds left in the third frame. The speedy 5-foot-9, 175-pound back set up the score two plays earlier on a 44-yard run.
Ga. Southern 38, UCF 17
ORLANDO _ Halfbacks Karl Miller and Darryl Hopkins combined for a total 193 yards rushing to lead the Georgia Southern Eagles to a 38-17 victory over the Central Florida Knights in college football.
Miller and Hopkins took pitches from quarterback Raymond Gross most of the night lead the I-AA Eagles, defending national champions, to a 4-3 season record. The Knights are also 4-3.
Gross was six for eleven for 85 yards passing while rushing for 13 yards as he engineered the Georgia Southern option offense to near perfection.