EASTPOINT – FAMU’s feet were fast Friday night, but they almost shot themselves in them.
A fumble, interception and a muffed punt on the Baby Rattlers’ three early drives, kept the game scoreless in the first quarter, and nearly tied the game, 8-6 at the half, before FAMU put three touchdowns on the Franklin County Seahawks in the second half, and went on to a 30-6 win in both team’s openers.
“There were a lot of errors, a ton of errors,” said FAMU coach Cedric Jones. “That first drive was crazy, like 45 yards worth of penalties. We got to clean that up. It was sloppy, very sloppy.”
It was until 6:34 left in the first half that FAMU drew first blood on the Seahawks when junior Malcolm Braxton flew down the right sideline for a 73-yard touchdown.
The two-point conversion, when Quarterback Daryl Wilson pitched out to senior Jymell Cunningham, was all FAMU would need, as they went up 8-0.
The Seahawks kept it close through the first half, capitalizing on the FAMU mistakes, as senior Rufus Townsend and senior Bailey Segree both recovered fumbles, and senior Alex Hardy snagged FAMU junior quarterback LaKavian Williams’ only interception of the night.
With two minutes left, senior defensive end Tonnor Segree scooped up a second muffed punt by the Rattlers and romped into the end zone.
“That’s what happens when you don’t do a lot of pre-season ball,” said Jones. “The best thing I like about tonight our kids were in good shape. There were no conditioning injuries.”
The Seahawks were without two of their key players, senior wingback Ethan Riley, who is having surgery for a torn anterior cruciate ligament on his right knee next week, keeping him out for the entire season, and sophomore quarterback Lamarius Martin, who is out for at least a month with a broken collarbone.
“We played hard but we’ve been decimated by injuries. I’ve never been around a program that’s had as many injuries in the first two weeks of a season,” said Coach Tony Yeomans.
Eight players are expected to be out for Friday’s home game against North Bay Haven, seven due to injury.
In addition to Riley and Martin, quarterback Colin Amison is nursing a shoulder injury that could keep him from the game, while Micah McLeod has a hip injury that makes him questionable. Bailey Segree, who had to be carried off the field Friday with a neck stinger, may be available, while defensive end Joe Aguilar with has a sprained knee ligament, and Tyrell Green has been down with the flu.
“That’s a lot of injuries anywhere, especially a Class 1A program,” said Yeomans. “We’re in shape, we work all summer to get to this point. We’re stronger and faster than we‘ve ever been.
“It’s just the breaks of life,” he said. “We’re playing kids Friday night that’s never played football. We’re just trying to put a Band-Aid on a wound, with a makeshift, put-together, trying to survive team.
“You just don’t learn football in a week,” said Yeomans. “There’s no continuity right now.”
He said a number of seniors, particularly fullback McLeod have stepped up.
“Micah’s done a great job, he did an outstanding job for us,” said the coach. “Seniors are supposed to step up and he did.”
Yeomans said he was pleased his team jumped on FAMU errors, and kept their own to a minimum, a single fumble.
“We gotta capitalize,” he said. “We just got to get people in the right places.”
FAMU quarterback Wilson connected on his first of two touchdown passes with 4:20 left in the third quarter, when he hit junior Jahysen Lee in the end zone on a fourth-and-seven from the 9.
His second touchdown flip came with 6:50 left in the game, when he connected with senior wide receiver #4 Montadius Moore on a 23-yard toss into the end zone.
The two-point conversion as no good, the Baby Rattlers led 22-6, but the Seahawks had trouble sustaining drives, corralled by the play of a pair of senior linebackers, Xavier Nelson and Jalen Randolph, and senior Keyon Pollacks.
“Defense has always been ahead of offense early in the season,” said Jones. “Offense just has to catch up to them.”
Moore, who finished with eight carries for 67 yards, capped the scoring with a 48-yard jet sweep with 3:28 left in the game. Braxton carried the ball twice for 102 yards and had one catch for 35 yards.
Yeomans said the Hawks are ready to compete this Friday.
“They’re going to be a good football team, we’re as fast as anybody we play,” said Yeomans. “North Bay Haven is beatable. We got to play mistake-free football and try to get going on offense.
“It’s a long season,” he said. “We got to get some healthy bodies back and keep fighting. I appreciate the fans support and we’ve had good crowds.”