FAMU football needed a win like this, an early look at Mississippi Valley | Column

Some things just never change.

For the second consecutive year, Alabama A&M (0-4, 0-1 SWAC) made Florida A&M (2-2, 1-1 SWAC) sweat.

In 2021, the Bulldogs led the Rattlers 28-10 midway through three quarters before squandering the lead. On Saturday, the Bulldogs led the Rattlers 19-7 in the second quarter — squandering that lead also.

It was a tale of two halves as the Rattlers outlasted the Bulldogs, 38-25.

As things began to look bleak, FAMU showed perseverance and went into takeover mode to extend its home winning streak at Bragg Memorial Stadium to 12 — tied for second in the nation with North Dakota State and a spot behind Montana State (14).

While FAMU finds its footing, Saturday was great step in the right direction as it now prepare for another winless opponent in Mississippi Valley (0-4, 0-1 SWAC).

"We're going to enjoy it here tonight with the 24-hour rule," FAMU coach Willie Simmons said.

"We got to have a great week of preparation because we got another tough opponent coming here in Mississippi Valley."


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FAMU aces the tenacity test in Week 4

I'll admit it, it was hard to watch the sloppy moments from FAMU's Week 2 win over Albany State.

FAMU just simply looked cleaner on Saturday against Alabama A&M.

Yeah, the Rattlers started slow and trailed 19-7 midway through the second quarter.

Maybe that can be excused as bye-week rust.

But once the FAMU turned it on, it was on.

The Rattlers outscored the Bulldogs 31-6 on their way to secure their first SWAC win of the season.

Being able to rally in overwhelming fashion displayed the positive qualities of FAMU.

This team is showing it won't quit when adversity hits.

I predicted an offensive clinic was brewing. Add a little lemon on top and you have FAMU's offensive attack against Alabama A&M.

Jeremy Moussa had 343 passing yards and three touchdowns. And let it be known, zero interceptions for the first time this season.

Following the win, Simmons called 'Moose' one of the most dynamic players in the FCS when he brings his A-game.

See what happens when you let the game come to you?

His main targets were receivers Xavier Smith and Jah'Marae Sheread. The duo was dynamic, combining for 15 catches, 234 yards, and three touchdowns.

"I thought the Rac Boyz lived up to their name tonight," Simmons said of the unit's moniker. "They showed what type of unit we can be and hopefully we can continue to play at a high level in the passing game."

In recent memory, the Dark Cloud Defense has been the engine of FAMU football.

However, the defense was getting cooked by Alabama A&M's play-action and option plays early in the game.

But it snapped back and dominated.

The Dark Cloud Defense showed up and showed out, sacking Alabama A&M quarterback Xavier Lankford three times and intercepting him twice.

Linebackers Nadarius Fagan and Isaiah Major are two of the most versatile linebackers in the SWAC. They have a chemistry and ability to drop back in coverage or come down on and blow up a ball carrier.

Major was just everywhere, finishing with 14 tackles. He places second in the SWAC with 34 total through four games.

Fagan helped turn the tide with his interception that led to FAMU to extend its lead to two scores on the way to victory.

"The defense played a really solid game and we're starting to really come together and hit our stride," Simmons said. "We've had some turnovers on the last couple of weeks and that's encouraging.

"At home, we turn up the intensity and essentially make it tough to move the ball and score points on us. It's good to see that unit really start to come together."

Chalk Saturday up as a complete team win.

The standard is set.

Now, the Rattlers must uphold it.

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► 'Facts are better than words': Willie Simmons analyzes FAMU's first three games | Q&A session

Next on FAMU's schedule: Mississippi Valley

Another week, another winless team coming to Bragg.

But the Rattlers shouldn't take Mississippi Valley lightly. They must keep their foot on the gas because they will cross enemy lines against the reigning HBCU Celebration Bowl Champions, South Carolina State, in Week 6.

FAMU defeated MVSU by the skin of its teeth, 31-28 last year.

Similar to FAMU early in the season, MVSU is looking to redeem itself to earn the first win of the season after a 49-7 beating by Jackson State.

MVSU is struggling on both sides of the line of scrimmage.

Through four games, the Deltas are last in the SWAC for in point total (37) and average (9.3). On the defensive side, they allow the most yards in the conference with 2063 (513.3 per game).

Another complete performance loading from FAMU?

I can see it only if the Rattlers don't overlook their next opponent.

► Crack of dawn: Willie Simmons challenging FAMU football team with early practices in bye week

► The column before this one: Judging from first three games, FAMU football's bye week is perfect timing | G. Thomas

Gerald Thomas III covers FAMU athletics for the Tallahassee Democrat. Contact him via email at gdthomas@gannett.com or on Twitter @3peatgee.

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This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: FAMU Football Column: Rattlers show character in first SWAC win of season