FAMU defeats North Carolina A&T 34-31

From Florida A&M Sports Information:

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. | Marcus Williams caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from backup quarterback Rasean McKay for the walkoff overtime victory as the Florida A&M University football team took down the defending Black College National Champions, North Carolina A&T State, 34-31 in overtime, in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) game on Sunday afternoon at Bragg Memorial Stadium.

Florida A&M (6-1 overall, 4-0 MEAC) entered the game as the No. 2 team in the Black College Football Poll and that is sure to change after Sunday’s thrilling win. Meanwhile, North Carolina A&T State (4-2, 2-1) began the day ranked No. 10 in the STATS FCS Top 25, No. 11 in the FCS Coaches Poll and No. 1 in the Black College Football Poll.

The Rattlers, who have now won five games by a touchdown or less, has won three games over a top-ranked team at Bragg Memorial Stadium since 1997.

The game had all the intensity of a top tier matchup, which featured three ejections from both teams, along with one coach due to a brawl as the teams crossed paths at halftime.

Florida A&M got the ball to begin the game and marched 81 yards in eight plays as Xavier Smith caught a 56-yards touchdown pass from Ryan Stanley, giving the Rattlers a 7-0 lead with 10:53remaining.

North Carolina A&T State, who controlled the clock for 39 minutes and 40 seconds on Sunday, went 72 yards in 16 plays, taking 8:47 off the clock as Kylil Carter scored on a 1-yard run, tying the game at 7 with exactly two minutes left in the opening quarter.

Back came the Rattlers as Stanley connected with David Manigo for a 5-yard score to give FAMU a 14-7 advantage with 30 seconds left in the first quarter.

The Aggies quickly responded as Jah-Maine Martin scored on a 9-yard touchdown run, tying the game at 14 with just under 13 minutes remaining in the first half.

Florida A&M answered with some trickery on its next drive as Stanley pitched the ball to Azende Rey in the backfield, who found Williams in the endzone for the 21-yard touchdown strike, giving the Rattlers a 21-14 advantage with 11:04remaining.

North Carolina A&T State had an opportunity right before the break to cut the deficit, but Noel Ruiz’s 46-yarder missed wide left to keep FAMU on top, 21-14.

The Aggies trimmed the margin to 21-17 after Ruiz booted a 26-yarder with 4:01 remaining in the third.

Florida A&M marched 63 yards in 10 plays as Terrell Jennings scored on a 2-yard run to extend the lead to 28-17 with 14:54 left in the final quarter.

The Aggies refused to go away quietly as Kashon Baker scored on a 36-yard run and with the 2-point conversion, North Carolina A&T State had trimmed the deficit to 28-25 with 10:27 remaining.

Unable to move the football, FAMU punted the ball to the Aggies 11 with 5:39 left.

North Carolina A&T State’s offense moved the ball to the FAMU 7, but with two incomplete passes, settled for a 24-yard field by Ruiz to send the game into overtime.

The Aggies opened the extra period with the ball and got a 32-yard field goal from Ruiz to grab a 31-28 lead.

On FAMU’s overtime possession, Davonne Kendrick rushed for three yards and after an incomplete pass, the Rattlers were faced with a third-and-7 from the NCAT 22. Williams broke to his right on the third-down play as McKay’s pass was on time for the diving touchdown.

Before FAMU could fully celebrate, the touchdown play went under review with the initial call on the field being ruled a touchdown. About a minute later, it was confirmed a touchdown and the Rattler bench erupted as head coach Willie Simmons fell to the ground, elated FAMU pulled off the overtime win.

Turning Point
In a game that pretty much had everything, this contest looked like a heavyweight fight.

Neither team backed down and neither did the coaches.

Rasean McKay filled in for an injured Ryan Stanley and cemented his legacy with arguable his biggest touchdown pass of his career.

To put it into context, had McKay not completed the pass, the Rattlers would be looking at close to a 40-yard field goal from Yahia Aly. Certainly not out of his range by any stretch.

But the redshirt freshman went 1-for-2 on his final drive and Marcus Williams ran an excellent route. The ball was slightly underthrown, but was in the right place as William made the perfect diving catch to give FAMU the overtime win.
Inside the Numbers
> Florida A&M finished with 17 first downs and 345 total yards of offense

> Terrell Jennings led the ground game with 12 carries for 57 yards and one touchdown

> Ryan Stanley went 14 of 24 passing for 220 yards and a pair of touchdowns

> Rasean McKay was 2-for-4 passing for 28 yards and one score

> David Manigo led the way receiving with six catches for 63 yards and one touchdown

> Xavier Smith caught five passes for 106 yards and one score

> Chris Faddoul punted the ball four times for 193 yards, including a 72-yarder

> Terry Jefferson and Elijah Richardson each recorded 11 tackles

> North Carolina A&T State finished with 28 first downs and 496 total yards

> Jah-Maine Martin, the MEAC leading rusher, was held to 71 yards on 22 carries

> Kylil Carter went 21 of 31 passing for 251 yards and one interception, while rushing for 63 yards on nine carries

> Backup quarterback Jalen Fowler went 8 of 15 passing for 65 yards

> Zachary Leslie caught 11 passes for 136 yards

> Kicker Noel Ruiz made field goals of 24, 26 and 32 yards, but missed a 46-yarder in the second quarter

> Antoine Carter registered nine tackles, including seven solo stops

News & Notes
> This was the 67th meeting between Florida A&M and North Carolina A&T State

> FAMU improves to 44-18-2 with the victory

> The Rattlers came into the game receiving votes in the STATS FCS Top 25 and FCS Coaches Poll

> North Carolina A&T State came into the contest ranked No. 10 in STATS FCS Top 25 and No. 11 in the FCS Coaches Poll

> FAMU head coach Willie Simmons improved to 2-0 all-time against North Carolina A&T State

> Three players from FAMU were ejected at halftime – Andrew Davis, Tim Williams and Jalen Brayboy, along with defensive coordinator Ralph Street

> Three players from NCAT ejected were Elijah Bell, Frank McCain and Stephen Davis

> Ryan Stanley continued to build on the all-time FAMU completions record with 660

> Ryan Stanley now has 7,999 passing yards, a school record he continues to build on

> Ryan Stanley is just two touchdown passes (56) from eclipsing Quinn Gray’s mark of 57

> Ryan Stanley needs just 25 passing attempts to break Quinn Gray’s record

> FAMU’s overtime win Sunday its record in extra frames to 5-5 all time

> The Rattlers improved to 1-1 all-time in overtime games played at Bragg Memorial Stadium

> Florida A&M have played three overtime games against North Carolina A&T State (2-1) and Bethune-Cookman (1-2). The last overtime game came in 2014, an 18-17 loss to the Wildcats at the Florida Classic

> FAMU’s first overtime game came in the 1996 Coca-Cola Circle City Classic, a 59-58, six-overtime win over Hampton in Indianapolis, Ind.

> Florida A&M improved to 2-0 on Sunday’s. The last Sunday victory came in 2013 at the MEAC/SWAC Challenge, a 27-10 win over Mississippi Valley State in Orlando

> The Rattlers have now reeled off six straight wins, a feat last accomplished in 2010

> FAMU victory was its third over the HBCU No. 1 team in Bragg Memorial Stadium since the 1997 season (1997: 33-3 win over Southern; 1999: 65-19 win over Southern); 2019: 34-31 over North Carolina A&T State)

> Not counting Fort Valley State, Florida A&M’s average margin of victory this season is 2.6 points and have won the last five games by a touchdown or less

Up Next 
Florida A&M returns action on Saturday in Baltimore, Md. Against Morgan State. The Bears are coming off a 24-10 loss this past Saturday at South Carolina State.

The Rattlers won the 2018 contest, 38-3, at Bragg Memorial Stadium.

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