BCU Keeps Streak Alive In Orlando
A late interception by Ryan Stanley sealed the game as the Bethune-Cookman University football team scored the game-winning touchdown with two minutes remaining to defeat No. 12 Florida A&M in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) game, 31-27, during the 40th Annual Florida Blue Florida Classic on Saturday at Camping World Stadium.
Florida A&M (9-2 overall, 7-1 MEAC) trailed nearly all night, but took its only lead of the night with 11 minutes remaining. However, a 15-yard touchdown run by Isaac Washington with 2:14 left put Bethune-Cookman (7-4, 5-3) ahead for good.
The Rattlers forced a defensive stop on the Wildcats’ opening drive, by Stanley, named FAMU’s Florida Classic MVP, was picked off by Trevor Merritt and returned 23 yards for the score, giving Bethune-Cookman a 7-0 lead with 7:18 left in the first quarter.
Florida A&M tied the game at 7 with 4:15 remaining in the opening period as Marcus Williams caught a 12-yard pass from Stanley, completing a 9-play, 76-yard drive
Akevious Williams gave Bethune-Cookman a 14-7 lead on a 14-yard run with 12:11 left in the third and Steffon Francois scored on a 28-yard reception to increase the Wildcats advantage to 21-7 with 6:30 remaining in the half
The two-score deficit was the first time Florida A&M had been behind by two scores since the season-opener at UCF
On the ensuing FAMU drive, Stanley connected with David Manigo for a 28-yard scoring strike, but the PAT was no good as the Rattlers cut the deficit to 21-13 with 5:45 left.
Florida A&M took advantage of an interception and cashed the turnover into points as Azende Rey scored on a 2-yard run to trim the margin to 21-20 with 10:33 remaining in the third.
However, a Stanley fumble resulted in three points for the Wildcats as Jonathan Thomas booted a 25-yard field goal with 14:13 left in the fourth quarter to give BCU a 24-20 lead.
Florida A&M responded with an 8-play, 58-yard drive as Rey caught a 4-yard touchdown pass from Stanley on fourth down to give the Rattlers a 27-24 advantage with 11:01 remaining.
On what would be Bethune-Cookman’s final scoring drive, a sack by Elijah Richardson forced the Wildcats into a second-and-25 from the BCU 41. On the very next play, Williams connected with Francois for 44 yards and Washington punched in the game-winner from 15 yards on the next play to give the Wildcats the 31-27 lead.
FAMU would have one final opportunity, but on fourth-and-3 from FAMU 48, Stanley was picked off by Devin James to seal the Wildcats victory.
In a game that had just about everything, it all came down to the fourth quarter.
FAMU had all the momentum but was forced to punt the football.
On the punt, FAMU was flagged for kick catching interference, which set up the Wildcats at the BCU 31.
On third-and-8, Que’Shaun Byrd rushed nine yards to set up first down from the FAMU 44.
Williams was sacked for a 15-yard loss by Richardson on first down, but on the next play, he completed a 44-yard gain up the middle to Francois, giving BCU a first down from the FAMU 15.
Washington completed the drive on the next play with a 15-yard touchdown run up the middle to give Bethune-Cookman the 31-27 lead.
FAMU had the chance for the come-from-behind win, but Stanley’s pass on fourth down was intercepted by James to give the Wildcats the win.
Inside the Numbers
> Florida A&M finished with 16 first downs and 353 total yards
> Bishop Bonnett led the ground game with 44 yards on 10 carries
> Ryan Stanley went 19 of 32 passing for 213 yards, with three touchdowns and two interceptions
> Xavier Smith caught seven passes for 86 yards
> Marcus Williams added four catches for 56 yards and one score
> Markquese Bell led the defense with 12 tackles, including seven solo stops
> Elijah Richardson tallied nine tackles, including one sack
> Bethune-Cookman finished with 24 first downs and 467 total yards
> Isaac Washington registered 104 yards on 12 carries, with one touchdown
> Akevious Williams went 22 of 35 passing for 269 yards, with one interception and one touchdown
> Marcus Riley caught seven passes for 98 yards
> Marquis Hendrix registered 11 tackles, with one forced fumble
News & Notes
> This was the 75th meeting between Florida A&M and Bethune-Cookman
> Florida A&M continues to lead the series 49-24-1 all-time
> Bethune-Cookman extended its winning streak in the series to nine straight games
> FAMU came into the game ranked No. 12 in the STATS FCS Top 25 and No. 13 in the FCS Coaches Poll
> The Rattlers also were ranked No. 1 in the Black College Football Poll and BOXTOROW Coaches Poll