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WHO HAS THE EDGE? // FAMU vs. B-CC

QUARTERBACK

Oteman Sampson has had a record-setting season for Florida A&M. Sampson, who has thrown for more than 300 yards in four games, holds the single-season school record for passing yards (2,533) and total offense (2,823). His touchdown-to-interception ratio (19-15) does not sparkle, but almost half those picks came in one game. Bethune has shuffled between 1995 starter Todd Walker (1,190 yards) and Chris Perkins (1,093 yards). The shuffling seems to have created continuity problems for the Wildcats, with Walker completing only 48 percent of his passes and Perkins doing only slightly better at 51 percent. EDGE: FAMU.

RUNNING BACKS

Of the platoon of running backs FAMU has installed, Antoine Flowers (120 carries, 619 yards) has been the best. With 15 touchdowns (11 rushing), Flowers could eclipse the school record of 17 held by former Plant RB Michael Solomon. Bethune's Yate Bryant and Steve Wallace have combined for 600 yards in the Wildcats' pass-oriented offense. B-CC has not used its running attack in several games because it has been behind. EDGE: FAMU.

RECEIVERS

Bethune has a dynamic combination in sophomore James Adderley (60 receptions, 812 yards) and junior transfer Antwuan Wyatt (63 receptions, 855 yards). Both have the speed to negate teams. FAMU's receiving unit is led by Robert Wilson, who is the school's career leader in receptions, receiving yardage and receiving touchdowns. Marvin Taylor averages 22.7 yards per reception. EDGE: Even.

OFFENSIVE LINE

FAMU's offensive line averages 320 pounds with tackles Jamie "The Hammer" Nails (345) and Owen Neil (300), guards Bradley Fita (360) and Demetrius Billie (300) and svelte center George Ishmael (263). The Bethune line has an all-conference candidate in 6-4, 330-pound Eric Gaines, but with a 291-pound average, the Wildcats do not have FAMU's bulk. EDGE: FAMU.

DEFENSIVE LINE

The Bethune-Cookman defensive front has done a good job of battling its opposition to stalemates to allow the linebackers to make plays, but the Wildcats do not have a dominating player among their front four. DE Louis Kirchgessner (42 tackles) is the best of the bunch. FAMU lost three starters from last year's front four and had to scramble when two prospective starters were lost for the season. Still, defensive ends Antonio Bradwell and Jomo Cousins have combined for 109 tackles and 16 sacks. EDGE: FAMU.

LINEBACKERS

With Michael Womack, Bethune might have had the edge in this category, but Womack went down with a season-ending injury as he approached the school record for tackles. The 'Cats still have Tampa native Jerrell Cogmon, who has 81 tackles and 8{ sacks, and Terry Doctor, who has filled Womack's void with 13 tackles for loss. FAMU lost three of its four starting linebackers from '95, but James Gibson and Cedric Liddell have stepped up to lead the team in tackles. Liddell and Leonard Inge (65 tackles) have both been MEAC Player of the Week this season. EDGE: FAMU.

SECONDARY

This was another unit besieged by injury. Safety Willie Oglesby went down for the year with a knee injury and the B-CC defense has not been the same since, giving up six touchdown passes against Howard. FAMU's unit is led by NFL prospect Karlos Odum and Primus Burley, who are tied for the team lead with three interceptions. The Rattlers, however, are better against the run than the pass. EDGE: FAMU.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Statistically, FAMU placekicker Juan Toro (7 of 10 field goals, 40 of 42 extra points) has outperformed B-CC's Alton Bolden (8 of 16, 16 of 19). Both teams have punt returners who rank among the nation's best: FAMU's Undre Williams (14.5 yards) and Wyatt (13.3 yards). EDGE: FAMU.

COACHES

Bethune-Cookman's Cy McClairen looked capable of sparking a revival, but it appears the program's constant problems with depth got the best of him this season. FAMU's Billy Joe promised MEAC championships and NCAA playoff berths before taking over in 1994. So far, he has delivered. EDGE: FAMU.

_ ERNEST HOOPER

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