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FAMU must ready backup QB after shoulder injury to Domingo

A South Carolina State defensive end, playing against Florida A&M in Orlando Saturday night, ruined a party in California.

Anthony Cook didn't realize his second-quarter sack of Ray Domingo had nationwide impact. But the family and friends of the FAMU quarterback who had gathered in Lakewood, Calif., to watch the game on ESPN2 saw Domingo leave after the next play with a separated shoulder.

"I heard it pop out and then I thought I heard it pop back in," said Domingo, who called his parents after the game. "On the next play when I dropped back to pass, I couldn't even raise my arm. I knew right there that it was separated. I called timeout and took myself out of the game."

The Rattlers were beaten 27-15, then learned they lost Domingo for the season. For a team that had spent the past three years searching in vain for a quarterback, it was big blow.

"Losing Ray Domingo hurts simply because he was having such a great year," FAMU coach Billy Joe said. "He's an accurate passer, and any time someone gets open downfield you can be sure that Ray will find them. Lose him, and we lose a dimension to our offense."

FAMU (4-3) is 2-2 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. No team with two losses has ever won the MEAC. Now, Joe has to ready sophomore Ernest Cooper to handle the remaining four games, including highly ranked Southern and Grambling. Cooper, who hadn't thrown a pass before Saturday's game, was 9-of-23 for 135 yards.

"We'll have to adjust our offense to suit Ernest Cooper's abilities," Joe said. "He can do some things Ray Domingo can't and Ray can do some things that Ernest can't. We'll try to mold our offense around Ernest's strengths."

Cooper gets his first lengthy exam Saturday in a homecoming start against Morgan State, but it may not be much of a test. The Bears (1-6) are allowing 43.4 points per game.

UCF: Sports Illustrated made Central Florida its preseason pick to win it all in Division I-AA. Now the Knights will have to win each of their remaining three games just to entertain thoughts of reaching the playoffs.

Publicly, the team speaks confidently about pulling off the trifecta, which includes a Nov. 12 game against Division I-A East Carolina. But privately there have to be some serious doubts. The Pirates upset South Carolina 56-42 earlier this season, and the Knights are allowing 26.6 points.

That statistic doesn't say nearly enough about how badly the defense played Saturday against Troy State in a 39-38 loss. The Trojans' option attack totaled 437 yards rushing. After a film review, the Knights coaches said 22 missed tackles led to 196 yards.

Freshman defensive end Jermaine Benoit, the former Hillsborough standout, was at a loss when asked why Troy had so much success.

"I don't know, we practiced it all week," Benoit said. "It's just mental. We knew what we needed to do. It's just mental."

B-CC: Losses often lead to frustration, not respect. But Bethune-Cookman's six-game losing streak has produced both angst and admiration.

Not much was expected of the Wildcats, thin on depth and experience. So when they lost three games by a total of five points, people were quick to credit Cy McClairen, the 64-year-old coach who came out of semi-retirement to rejuvenate the program.

But the losses don't get any easier to stomach. After consecutive two-point defeats, Bethune watched Albany State walk away with a 30-29 victory Saturday. A two-point conversion that would have won the game was negated by a penalty.

"We have to find a way to win instead of losing," offensive coordinator Reggie Beverly said. "We've played too many games this season to blame something like this on inexperience. At this point, there's no such thing as inexperience."

_ Correspondents Jamal Thalji and Sean Kernan contributed to this story.

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