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FAMU rallies, beats B-CC in overtime
FLORIDA A&M 26, BETHUNE-COOKMAN 23 (OT): Wesley Taylor's field goal with 13 seconds left ties it, and his 17-yarder wins it.
By SHARON GINN
Published November 20, 2005
ORLANDO - By the third quarter, the fans were doing the wave, and by the fourth, they were slowly filtering out. The Florida Classic - so often a high-scoring, dramatic affair - had managed to lull an entire stadium to sleep.
Including, apparently, the Bethune-Cookman defense.
Then for the first time in four seasons, Florida A&M took control against its most important rival. Down by 10 midway through the fourth quarter, the Rattlers drove 90 yards for a touchdown, tied the score on a 43-yard Wesley Taylor field goal with 13 seconds left and shut down the Wildcats offense in overtime.
With a second field goal from Taylor, this time from 17 yards, the Rattlers had a stunning 26-23 victory at the Florida Citrus Bowl.
FAMU's seniors, who had never had the pleasure of beating B-CC (7-4, 4-4 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) until Saturday, turned the tables on a Wildcats team that had done the same thing to them with an overtime victory a year ago. The Rattlers, who finished with a winning record for the first time since 2002, had lost an unprecedented three in a row to B-CC.
While quarterbacks Josh Driscoll and Albert Chester kept the Rattlers in the game, Taylor, the 5-foot-7, 170-pound sophomore from Riverview won it. Taylor entered as the nation's No.1 punter in Division I-AA, but it was his four field goals that made the difference.
After missing a 46-yarder in the first quarter, "I got down, but my teammates (encouraged) me," Taylor said.
His field goals from 45 and 38 yards in the second and third quarters kept the Rattlers within striking distance, and his 43-yarder late in regulation - in a light rain and wind - split the uprights.
In beating the Wildcats, FAMU (6-5, 5-3 MEAC) showed the resilience that has been its hallmark all season. The Rattlers have been troubled by budget cuts, reports of NCAA violations and an aborted plan to move up to I-A that forced them to leave the MEAC last season.
Longtime coach Billy Joe was fired in June, and Rubin Carter was hired less than a month before the start of fall practice. The Rattlers struggled early in the season but won four of their last five games.
"It was a great opportunity for the kids, and I'm really happy for them," Carter said. "It was a Classic ... that will be remembered for a long, long time."
Chester, a sophomore who got the start at quarterback over Driscoll, earned game MVP honors for his fourth-quarter play. While Carter gave Driscoll the nod in overtime, it was Chester who orchestrated the drives that kept the Rattlers in the game.
He completed 14 of 19 passes for 164 yards and added 75 rushing yards on 11 carries. But more important, he got momentum moving in FAMU's direction.
Early in the game, almost nothing went in the Rattlers' favor.
After Taylor missed the 46-yard field goal on the first drive, B-CC answered with a 33-yard field goal by Jesus Cortez. Then FAMU receiver Craig Swain fumbled, and on the next play, the Wildcats' Corey Council took a pitch 59 yards up the right sideline for a touchdown.
FAMU used Driscoll on the next series and went three-and-out. The Wildcats then drove 63 yards, capped by a 2-yard touchdown run by quarterback Jimmie Russell. Less than 10 minutes into the game, B-CC had a 17-0 lead.
The Rattlers didn't get on the scoreboard until early in the second quarter, with Taylor's 45-yard field goal. But things started to click later in the quarter, when Chester completed 5 of 6 passes for 65 yards in an 80-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard Rashard Pompey touchdown run.
B-CC took a 23-10 lead into halftime thanks to two more Cortez field goals, a 51-yarder - the fourth longest in school history - and 39-yarder. The teams traded field goals in the third, but the Wildcats did not get near the end zone again.