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Troutman is nearly enough

QB rallies B-CC but comes up just short in return from injury.

By JOHN C. COTEY

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 19, 2000


ORLANDO -- Pa'tell Troutman certainly doesn't lack for confidence.

He proclaimed his team the better one even after it lost 31-28 to Florida A&M in the Florida Classic; he gave the Rattlers credit while in the same sentence saying they stunk; and when asked the reason for his team's turnaround after a rough start, his answer was predictable:

"I think it was me," he said.

On that point, Troutman may have been accurate. Though hurt by penalties on many of their most crucial plays, the Wildcats finally made a game of the Classic after five straight routs (average FAMU victory margin: 36 points) thanks in large part to their quarterback.

Stymied early by a vicious pass rush, Troutman finished with 105 yards rushing and a touchdown pass. He had minus-24 yards on his first eight carries but 129 yards on his next 13 to rally the Wildcats.

"I was a little rusty after sitting the pine the last three weeks," said Troutman, who was playing for the first time since a separating a shoulder in a loss to North Carolina A&T on Oct. 28. "I had to get that feeling back. I think we got the job done. I think we were the better team, we just weren't able to capitalize."

Right before halftime, Troutman seemed to shake the rust, engineering an 87-yard scoring drive with runs of 13, 22 and 8 yards. He capped the drive by hitting Antonio Stanley from 22 yards out with 26 seconds left in the half to give B-CC a rare Classic lead at 14-13.

FAMU took the lead, then B-CC re-took it as Troutman sprinted 25 yards to set up a 6-yard touchdown run by Marquis Williams. The Rattlers scored again, but Rashean Mathis ran back a missed field goal 100 yards to put the Wildcats back on top.

Eventually, B-CC's mistakes on the offensive line were too much to overcome. After FAMU took the lead for the final time, B-CC had a first-down pass wiped out by an ineligible lineman downfield and punted on their second-to-last drive. One of FAMU's nine sacks and a 19-yard holding penalty doomed the final drive.

"I don't want to point any fingers ... our offensive line did a great job otherwise but broke down on some plays," Troutman said. "If we got certain blocks at certain times, things would be changed."

The thing that will remain the same bodes well as the Wildcats try to end their six-game Classic losing streak next year: Troutman at quarterback.

Though a senior, he has an extra year because he was a Proposition 48 case though he will graduate with his class. "I've got another year," he said. "I'm coming back, baby. I've got to beat FAMU."

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