ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – With their stance at #3 in the Mid-East Athletic Conference (MEAC) and 6-4 on the season, the Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) Wildcats came into the 2017 Florida Blue Florida Classic ready to take another win at Camping World Stadium Saturday afternoon. The Florida A&M University (FAMU) Rattlers, however, were not about to roll over. They entered Saturday’s traditional rivalry showdown with something to prove, being #9 in the MEAC with 3-7 on the season and not having won a Florida Classic in six years.
The first half offered the kind of battle the 47,000-plus fans descended upon Orlando to see. B-CU got on the board first with tight end Ja-Quan Lumas catching a 35-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Larry Brihm, Jr. near the end of the first quarter.
While in prior years it may have taken FAMU more time to score, they got to business early in the second quarter (9:34) with a 30-yard field goal kick by Yahia Aly. B-CU then answered with their own 31-yard field goal by Uriel Hernandez near the six-minute mark. The half seemed like it would close in B-CU’s favor, but FAMU’s Kareem Smith caught a 31-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Stanley for the team’s first touchdown of the game with 2:35 left in the half, tying the score at 10-10 at halftime.
By the third quarter, FAMU appeared to have caught their stride. The defense allowed no scoring for B-CU despite an interception by B-CU safety Diquan Richardson, and FAMU running back Ricky Henrilus made a four-yard run to score their second touchdown with a wildcat formation on a 10-play, 68-yard scoring series, making the score 17-10 for FAMU.
In the fourth quarter, FAMU launched another successful wildcat formation for a third touchdown, giving them a 24-10 score over B-CU. In the twelfth minute, B-CU scored their next touchdown to reduce FAMU’s lead to seven. With seven minutes left in the game, B-CU eked out another touchdown with a run that just barely got on the line. However, the extra point kick was blocked, making the score 24-23 for FAMU.
With less than two minutes left in the game, B-CU bounced back furiously with a touchdown and on FAMU’s next scoring drive, made an interception, sealing FAMU’s seventh Florida Classic loss. The final score was 29-24.
FAMU head coach Alex Wood attributes the team’s loss to miscommunication on a fake punt play that was decided upon by a player. However, B-CU head coach Terry Sims took the 14-point comeback win in stride. “This is Wildcat football,” he told FNN News, we’ve played games like this all season.”
Mellissa Thomas is Florida National News Editor. | firstname.lastname@example.org.