FAMU weathers fourth quarter struggles to hold off South Carolina State

Courtesy of Florida A&M Athletics:

The Rattlers played a dominant 45 minutes of football as they took a commanding 20-0 lead, but a disappointing fourth quarter made the game close for the Rattlers as Florida A&M won their first road game of the season 20-14 at South Carolina State. The win gives the Rattlers their third straight win versus the Bulldogs.
“Big time win, a lot of adversity, but the guys found a way,” said Head Coach Willie Simmons. “It’s the mark of a championship ball club. These guys showed character tonight, they showed grit, and they showed resilience in the face of all kinds of adversity. I don’t know the official stats, but a whole lot of penalties on our end to not very many on their end, but our guys found a way to get it done, and that’s what it’s all about.”
Dominant First Half
The Rattlers dominated the first half on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball as they took a 17-0 lead into the half. On the second drive of the game, Jeremy Moussa connected with Xavier Smith for a 63-yard touchdown, giving Smith his seventh touchdown of the season. Then later in the second quarter, Moussa and Jah’Marae Sheread linked up for a 35-yard touchdown. Moussa threw for 228 passing yards in the first half, and both of his touchdowns came in the same half.
From a defensive standpoint, the defense only allowed 85 total yards in the first half (7 rushing and 78 passing) and only five first downs. BJ Bohler also recorded his first interception of the season during the first half. 
Fourth Quarter Woes
Taking a 20-point lead into the fourth quarter, the Rattlers forced a punt, but on the ensuing drive, Jeremy Moussa threw his first interception as one of the nation’s leading interceptors, BJ Davis, came up with his first interception of the game. The Bulldogs took advantage of the turnover finding the end zone on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Corey Fields to Shaq Davis. On the Rattlers’ next drive, Moussa had another pass intercepted by the Bulldogs’ BJ Davis, which the Bulldogs would capitalize the next play on a 44-yard touchdown pass to Shaq Davis.
The Dark Cloud Defense came up when they needed to most on the Bulldogs’ final drive of the game, which started on their own 14 and made their way to the FAMU 29 before the Rattlers stopped them on a 4th and 5 to take over and kneeled the clock out.
Xavier Smith Continues to Impress
Xavier Smith finished with 102 yards and one touchdown off five receptions. Smith broke free in the first quarter on a 63-yard touchdown, which gave him his seventh on the season and touchdown in his fourth consecutive game. 
Dark Cloud Defense Dominates on the Road
The term defense travels proved to be true today as the Rattlers held the Bulldogs to only 261 yards of total offense and had three interceptions (BJ BohlerJavan Morgan, and Kendall Bohler). The run defense was stout, as they only allowed 24 yards with an average of 1.2 yards per carry, and outside of one long play, the pass defense held their own, allowing 237 passing yards off 50 attempts (4.7 yards per attempt). The defense also made many plays in the backfield, with nine tackles for loss and two sacks.
Isaiah Major has Major Game
Linebacker Isaiah Major was all over the field as he finished with 13 tackles (5 solos, 8 assists), 2.5 tackles for loss, and one sack.
Penalty Issues
The Rattlers saw a ton of yellow thrown on the field their way as they finished with 15 penalties for 146 yards. Ten of the 15 occurred in the fourth quarter for 99 yards, and the Rattlers gave the Bulldogs four first downs off penalties (three in the fourth quarter).

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