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College football around the state

By JAMAL THALJI

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 15, 2000


FAMU is rattled at home

TALLAHASSEE -- They called it a bye week. They said Florida A&M was overrated. They said they would have the Rattlers for lunch. They said it was their house.

They were right.

Defending Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference champion North Carolina A&T battered host FAMU 30-10 in front of 19,861 Saturday at Bragg Memorial Stadium.

The Rattlers bitterly complained about all the trash the Aggies talked beforehand, but couldn't prove any of it wrong. North Carolina A&T dashed the Rattlers' MEAC title hopes and ended a 20-game home win streak.

The Rattlers have dropped two consecutive games for the first time in six years, and the Gulf Coast Offense has just two touchdowns in two weeks.

"Each player needs to go home and have a gut check," wide receiver Jacquay Nunnally said. "If last week wasn't a wake-up call for everyone, it is now. There's no excuse for A&T beating us, and it's embarrassing that they beat us in our own house. Especially after all the trash they were talking before the game."

North Carolina A&T improved to 5-1, and 3-0 in the MEAC. FAMU fell to 5-2, 4-1 in the conference, but that loss comes against the new MEAC front-runner. The Rattlers, No. 4 in the Sheridan Broadcasting Black College Football rankings and No. 11 in the Sports Network Division I-AA poll, need considerable help to catch the Aggies, ranked No. 2 and No. 17, respectively.

FAMU coach Billy Joe turned 60 Saturday, but his Rattlers aged him considerably more after giving up three fumbles, an interception, a blocked punt and blocked field goal, and 319 yards rushing.

"What is really happening is our worst nightmare," Joe said. "What we knew initially at the commencement of the season is if we had a rash of injuries, we knew we did not have the depth to sustain a championship-level type of football team, and that is essentially what is occurring now."

North Carolina A&T got the brawl it wanted, one that favored its hard-nosed defense and smash-mouth running attack. The Aggies ran and blitzed up the middle, taking advantage of two missing Rattlers: center Terrie Logan (broken wrist) and middle linebacker Pat Burrows (sprained right ankle.)

FAMU quarterback Quinn Gray's fumble at his own 15-yard line got North Carolina A&T going in the first quarter. Jason Battle hit Dominique Williams on an 8-yard touchdown pass to give the Aggies a 7-0 lead. FAMU answered as O.J. Marchbanks' second effort converted a fourth-and-goal at the 2 to tie it 7-7.

In the second, North Carolina A&T turned a Gray interception and a blocked punt into two touchdown runs of 35 and 30 yards from halfback Maurice Hicks to take a 21-7 lead. FAMU's Juan Vasquez connected on a 44-yard field goal to cut the halftime lead 21-10.

Platooning players in and out, the fresh Aggies dominated the second half, and Darren Dawkins converted field goals of 27, 42 and 27 yards.

North Carolina A&T blitzed FAMU's quarterback relentlessly, and working with the second and third-string centers, Gray was sacked three times, fumbled twice and threw an interception. He was pulled in the fourth.

UCF 34, E. KENTUCKY 3: The Golden Knights recorded season highs of seven sacks and three interceptions at the Florida Citrus Bowl.

UCF's offense still was a bit shaky behind quarterback Ryan Schneider, who made his third start in a row in place of injured senior Vic Penn.

B-CC 42, S.C. STATE 14: Quarterback Pa'Tell Troutman ran for 132 yards and a touchdown and Jay Rogers rushed for 141 yards and scored twice for host Bethune-Cookman.

Marcus Goggins added a pair of touchdowns in the second half as the Wildcats (7-0) continued their best start since 1975.

- Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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