Two of the most well-known Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the nation put on a show, and we’re not talking about their amazing bands. This year, it was all about the football play on the field at Camping World Stadium, with an announced crowd of 52,412, the largest announced crowd for a Florida Classic game since 2011.
The Florida A&M Rattlers (6-5, 5-2 MEAC) were looking to clinch a spot in the Celebration Bowl, and the Bethune-Cookman Wildcats (7-5, 5-2 MEAC) were looking to continue its recent run of dominance over its arch-rival.
The game was a back and forth thriller, with impressive and precise passing on both sides, amazing rushing, and all kinds of fantastic plays all around.
The win an Saturday was Cookman’s eighth consecutive Classic win.
“I said that [Friday] at the luncheon. I’m not really getting in to taking the MEAC title from them and all that. said Bethune-Cookman coach Terry Sims. “It was a game. I was a game that we needed to win. It was a game that we wanted to win. We went out and took the football game in the end.”
The loss was FAMU’s third consecutive this season. The Rattlers have fallen in conference games against B-CU and Howard; if FAMU had won either one of them, the Rattlers would be co-MEAC champions and bound for the Celebration Bowl in Atlanta.
BCC opened things up with two false start penalties and went 3-and-out in their first drive.
The Rattlers opened up with a sack as QB Ryan Stanley displayed his lack of speed around the end and was easily taken down. They followed that with a nice drive downfield, making it to the Wildcat’s 1 yard line. The party ended there when the Cookman defense stiffened and FAMU only came away with a field goal.
The only other notable play in the first was a massive 62 yard punt by FAMUs Chris Faddoul.
In the second quarter, BCU’s started an 80-yard drive when David Israel hit wide receiver Steffon Francois. They finish the drive with a QB sneak by Israel, 7-3 Wildcats.
FAMU started their next drive on their own 27 yard line, and eventually were stuck and almost stopped, but pulled of a fake field goal token this drive going. The drive was stopped again in the red zone and they had to settle for a field goal, taking to score to 7-6.
FAMU was helped out by a pass interference call on their next drive and were finally able to punch one i for a touchdown on a 3-yard rush by Bishop Bonnett, taking the score to 13-7 into the half.
Of course, as with every Florida Classic, explosive halftime shows ensued, with BCU’s performance including a brief play on the poplar Fortnite dances, and FAMU forming an arrow that pointed directly at BCU’s seats in the stands an throwing their jabs at the Wildcats band.
Then things changed.
FAMU opened with a 3-and out, and and then minds were blown.
The FAMU punt pinned the Wildcats at their own 1 yard line.
Then, Cookman running back Tupac Isme broke through the Rattlers line for a 99-yard touchdown. BCU 14, FAMU 13.
BCU managed a 44 yard field goal by kicker Uriel Hernandez taking the score to 17-13.
FAMU followed with a drive of their own for a touchdown, but the Wildcats’ blocked the Cookman extra point and returned it for 2 points. Taking the score to 19-19 at the end of the 3rd quarter.
The 4th quarter saw BCU’s Jabari Dunham score on a 5 yard run, and Tydarius Peters return a Stanley pass for a 90 yard pick 6, taking the game to the final 33-19 score.
Since North Carolina A&T crushed North Carolina Central 45-0 on Saturday, the Aggies are the MEAC champions and will go to the Celebration Bowl for the second year in a row. The Aggies’ victory dashed any hopes FAMU had of sharing the conference title.