Howard prepared to take on FAMU in Celebration Bowl

title image via David Sierra

Courtesy of Howard Athletics

December 15, 2023) – Back in September when the season had just begun, Howard University Head Coach Larry Scott asked what could be considered more of prediction than a question: “Wouldn’t it be great if Howard University and FAMU were to play each other in the Celebration Bowl?”

Whether it was wishful thinking or he had a crystal ball, his predilection has come to fruition.

Here we are: Howard, the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Champion against the Rattlers of Florida A&M (FAMU), the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) Champion, in the 2023 Cricket Celebration Bowl Saturday, December 16, inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Kickoff at noon.


Saturday’s showdown will be carried on nationally televised ABC.

Tiffany Greene Berry will be doing play-by-play and Jay “Sky” Walker on color commentary. Greene Berry is a FAMU alum and Walker is a Howard alum.

Bison fans can catch all the action on the Howard Sports Radio Network. Trevin Jones will call the action, Nathaniel Henry will provide color analyst and Sareyah Rudd will provide sideline interviews.



The first meeting between the two institutions started in 1933 with the Rattlers winning the inaugural game, 9-6. FAMU holds a 29-11 advantage with the last meeting taking place in 2019, 39-7 Rattlers.


The Bison (6-5, 4-1 MEAC) got here after defeating Morgan State, 14-7, in the regular season finale. Although Howard tied with North Carolina Central (NCCU) in the MEAC standings, the Bison get the nudge because they defeated NCCU in their head-to-head competition.

Howard features a balanced attack with the running of sophomore Eden James (Port St. Lucie, Fla.), senior Jarett Hunter (Mineral, Va.) and graduate Ian Wheeler (Houston), who combined for almost 1,600 yards and 12 TDs.

Graduate quarterback Quinton Williams (Upper Marlboro, Md.) passed for almost 2,200 yards and 16 TDs while also adding five more rushing for good measure.

Senior multi-purpose student-athlete Kasey Hawthorne (Sebring, Fla.) led the team in receiving with 35 receptions for 500 yards and five TDs. Junior wide receiver Richie Ilarraza (Clearwater, Fla.) proved to be a reliable target with 30 receptions for 300 yards, many coming on important third down conversions.

Defensively, Howard proved to be effective with the outstanding play of senior safety MEAC Defensive Player of the Year Kenny Gallop, Jr.(Portsmouth, Va.), who totaled 65 tackles.

Other contributors include senior linebacker Terrance Hollon (63 tackles), Carson Hinton (48 tackles), graduate defensive lineman Darrian Brokenburr(Manassas, Va.), senior defensive back Ray Williams (Detroit) and junior cornerback Robert Jones III (Fairwood, Md.).

The Bison special teams got an outstanding season from sophomore punter/placekicker Aaron Bickerton (Stoke-on-Trent, England) and kick return specialist Wheeler.


The Rattlers (11-1, 8-0 SWAC) defeated Prairie View A&M in the conference championship game to earn the right to represent the SWAC.

Overall, 13 Rattlers were named to the All-SWAC Team and FAMU made the clean sweep of the top individual honors: Willie Simmons (SWAC Coach of the Year), Jeremy Moussa (SWAC Offensive Player of the Year) and Isaiah Major (SWAC Defensive Player of the Year).

Offensively, FAMU will rely on Moussa (195-of-339, 2,604 yards & 19 TDs), graduate running back Terrell Jennings (101 carries, 605 yards & 9 TDs), redshirt senior running back Kelvin Dean (70 carries, 356 yards & 3 TDs), redshirt running back Jacquez Yant (85 carries, 333 yards & 7 TDs), graduate wide receivers Jah’Mar Sherean (46 receptions, 441 yards & 2 TDs) and Marcus Riley (32 receptions, 570 yards & 5 TDs) and fifth-year tight end Kamari Young (24 receptions, 366 yards & 5 TDs).

Defensively, FAMU is led by Major (100 tackles, 11.5 tackles for losses & 2.0 sacks), sophomore defensive lineman Anthony Dunn, Jr. (43 tackles, 12.5 tackle for losses, 8 sacks & 8 QB hurries), junior linebacker Johnny Chaney, Jr. (62 tackles, 7.0 TFLs & 3 sacks), and redshirt junior defensive back Kendall Nohler (27 tackles, 2.0 TFLs & 14 pass breakups).

Junior punter Trey Wilhoit had a great season, averaging over 44 yards per punt, 14 attempts of 50 yards or more and 12 punts inside the opponents 20-yard line. Graduate return specialist Marcus Riley averaged over 29 yards per kick return.


Florida A&M – Willie Simmons (6th Season)

“We are taking the approach that we want to be 1-0. I know that sounds like a cliche, but if we are 1-0, we have accomplished our goal. I am stressing that because this is an opportunity of a lifetime for them.”

Howard University – Larry Scott (4th Season)

“I told the players this is something that they play their whole lives for from the time that they were six or seven years old.  To play on this stage is a great opportunity.”



1st in passing yards allowed
4th in turnovers lost
tied for 4th in least fumbles
9th in 3rd down conversions
10th 1st down defeense
10th in first down defense
tied for 10th in least passes had intercepted


2nd in third down defense
2nd in total defense
tied for 4th in defense
5th in rushing defense
8th in Red Zone defense
11th in passing yards allowed
tied for 18th in blocked kicks



1st in total offense (383.7)
1st In pass defense (129.5)
1st In Kick returns (22 yards per return)
1st in First Downs
1st in First Downs defense
1st in Third Down Conversions (47 percent)

2nd in scoring defense (21.6)
2nd in totals defense (316.2)
2nd in rushing offense (180.9)
2nd in passing offense (202.8)
2nd in field goals
2nd in least penalized
2nd in 4th down conversions
2nd in least penalties


3rd in rushing
3rd in all purpose
8th in total offense

7th in rushing
6th in scoring
6th in all purpose

11th in rushing
2nd in all purpose
2nd in kick returns

Q. Williams
2nd in passing
2nd in total offense
5th in scoring

2nd in receiving
7th in scoring
7th in all purpose

9th in receiving

1st in punting
3rd in field goals

Gallop, Jr.
4th in tackles
5th in interceptions
6th in fumbles recovered
6th in passes defended
8th in forced fumbles

8th in tackles

3rd in sacks
10th tackles for losses

8th in passes defended

R. Williams
9th in interceptions


Howard outscored its opponents, 69-34, in the third quarter and 143-83 in the second half…the Bison had 14 drives of 70 yards or more, averaging 12 plays and over five minutes…Gallop is a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award for top defensive player…Coach Scott is a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award…Two of Howard’s close losses came on the road at Eastern Michigan (Sept. 1) and Northwestern (Oct. 7), both teams will be playing in FBS bowls.

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