TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - In a battle of two teams which entered the game unbeaten in MEAC play, it was Florida A&M that came up with several key stops and a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to pull away for a 17-0 win over Norfolk State on Saturday evening at Bragg Memorial Stadium.
Two teams that both topped the 50-point mark last week found themselves in a defensive battle. Ultimately, the Rattlers (4-2, 3-0 MEAC) took advantage of some NSU (3-2, 1-1) miscues to earn a Homecoming win and remain undefeated in league play.
FAMU intercepted three passes in the first half, two in its own end zone, to keep the Spartans off the board in the opening 30 minutes. FAMU used one of those interceptions, by Orlando McKinley, to set up the only score for either team in the half, a 22-yard Yahia Aly field goal.
The Spartan defense stymied FAMU throughout the third quarter and the Spartans appeared ready to take the lead when Juwan Carter hit Justin Smith on a 51-yard bomb down to the Rattlers' 1. But NSU lost a yard on first down, then was hit with four penalties that ultimately pushed the Spartans out of field goal range.
FAMU forced NSU to punt. The Spartans again had a good chance to score after getting good field position on its next drive, but missed a 42-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.
This time, the Rattlers took advantage, driving 75 yards in 10 plays for a score. Ryan Stanley threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Chad Hunter on a third-down play with 9:59 remaining to push the Rattlers' lead to 10-0.
NSU was again forced to punt and the Rattlers drove down the field for the clinching score, Bishop Bonnett's 14-yard TD run with 2:34 remaining.
The Spartans outgained FAMU 291-240, but committed season highs of 15 penalties and three turnovers. Carter completed 17-of-34 passes for 212 yards for NSU, with six completions for 78 yards going to Marcus Taylor.
For FAMU, Stanley was 15-of-27 for 149 yards. Bonnet rushed 12 times for 80 yards.
The Spartans are off next week before hosting North Carolina Central at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20 for NSU's Homecoming at Dick Price Stadium.