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Wildcats take FIU to school

By JAMAL THALJI, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 24, 2002

After Saturday's game, Florida International players said Bethune-Cookman didn't play in a style they hadn't prepared for.

But the Wildcats did show the Golden Panthers the difference between preparation and execution.

The No. 1-ranked defense in the MEAC feasted, as B-CC rolled to a 31-0 victory against FIU's first-year program (2-2) at Lockhart Stadium. The Wildcats (4-0) surrendered 68 yards, the lowest total allowed by B-CC in 27 years.

Freshman quarterback Jamie Burke, playing in his fourth collegiate game, was sacked 11 times and threw an interception. If B-CC wasn't confusing him with different coverages, it was planting him into the ground with blitzes.

"I never saw anything like that in high school," Burke told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "They disguised blitzes and changed coverages. It was hard to read, but I will be better next time."

Burke completed 9 of 18 passes for 84 yards. But the team had minus-16 rushing yards, which FIU coach Don Strock blamed for making his quarterback an easy target.

"The offensive line played horribly," Strock told the Sun-Sentinel. "It's tough to execute when you don't block the right people."

B-CC's Rashean Mathis returned a fumble 26 yards for a score, and the Wildcats' defense forced four turnovers.

"They didn't show us anything that we hadn't practiced," guard Ed Wenger said. "It's tough to count defenders and make calls when they are changing them every second, right up to the snap."

B-CC coach Alvin Wyatt called it an important game, one made against a future I-A program that could pose a threat to the Wildcats' recruiting.

"We needed to make a big statement and I thought we did that," Wyatt told the Daytona Beach News-Journal. "We asked all week long for 30 to 40 points and a shutout, and they gave it to us. I just felt that our kids were much superior than their kids and we came out ready to play."

WELCOME HOME: After an 0-3 road trip to open the season, including close losses to Penn State and Marshall and a blowout loss at Arizona State, Central Florida returns home to face Division I-AA Liberty on Saturday.

It is the start of a homestand that will see the Knights play seven of their next nine at home. UCF needs a fresh start, especially after coming close to upsetting Marshall (2-1), but falling short 26-21 to the four-time Mid-American Conference champion.

Welcome to the MAC, Knights.

"I think our kids should have a greater sense of confidence after having played in that stadium, and playing Marshall as close as they have," coach Mike Kruczek said. "I know there's not gratification in losing. But we are at home now, and we knew it was a difficult three-game road stretch."

MIGHTY CASEY: Florida A&M has seen the future without Casey Printers at quarterback, and it is not pretty.

A dropped pass on the first drive. A center-snap over the head of the quarterback for a 35-yard loss on the second drive. A botched fourth-and-1 bootleg on the third drive. A punt at the opposing 48 on the fourth drive. And on the sixth drive, an interception thrown into the end zone.

Without Printers, the prolific transfer from Texas Christian, the Rattlers' offense rarely was in synch in Saturday's 20-18 MEAC victory against Delaware State (2-2), a team FAMU (3-1) has beaten nine times in a row.

Instead of Printers, backup Reggie Hayes completed 14 of 26 for 160 yards and a touchdown, and ran for 53 yards and another score. The offense generated just enough to win and get the team to a 2-0 MEAC start. FAMU coach Billy Joe said he didn't think Printers was healthy enough to start.

-- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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