clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Florida A&M Survives JSU Comeback Bid in Orange Blossom Classic, Wins 28-10

The Rattlers resoundingly took down the Tigers on Sunday afternoon.

NCAA Football: Orange Blossom Classic-Jackson State vs Florida A&M Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

One year ago, almost to the day, Jackson State decimated Florida A&M in the “Orange Blossom Classic” down in Miami. The Tigers could do no wrong that day and the 59-3 score said as much. On Sunday afternoon in the very same game, however, the Rattlers flipped the script and handed it to JSU. Big play after big play buried the Tigers early and FAMU never looked back. It was a win that Willie Simmons and his team needed because it was starting to seem like Jackson State was out of reach.

Not anymore.

Florida A&M made it clear right from the jump that this one was going to be different. On the game’s opening kick, Marcus Riley fielded the kick and danced around JSU defenders to brake free. Riley sped 96 yards down the sideline for the immediate score and put a damper on the JSU crowd just 11 seconds in.

Special teams was the story early and not just for the touchdown. Jackson State’s opening series was relatively successful until it got deep into enemy territory. On 32-yard field goal try from the FAMU 15-yard line, though, a bad snap ensured that the Tigers would stay off the board. With excellent field position and the lead, the Rattlers wasted no time scoring again. Quarterback Jeremy Moussa threaded a dart to receiver Trevonte Davis in the end zone and just like that it was 14-0.

A week ago South Carolina State had no answers for Tigers signal-caller Jason Brown. This week, Florida A&M’s unit apparently had all the answers for him. On a 3rd and 22, Brown took the snap and dropped back to wind up for a deep pass. Instead, however, he mishandled the snap and Rattlers linebacker Allen Smith Jr. fell on it. The turnover again led to points when Moussa hit Jah’Marae Sheread for a five-yard score.

Florida A&M would go on to force five punts and tack one yet another touchdown before halftime. When the break hit, they were up 28-0.

Whatever was said at halftime in the Jackson State locker room, it didn’t help much. Their first drive of the third quarter ended in a punt, their sixth of the day up to that point. Brown had also been pulled from the game by this point meaning that Zy McDonald was now in. The change didn’t make a big difference, at least initially. A 24-yard Gerardo Baeza field goal, however, did give JSU its first points of the day with under two minutes to play in the third.

The fourth quarter started to spell a different story for the Tigers. McDonald began to find his rhythm and the FAMU defense started to get pushed back on their heels. McDonald found receiver Rico Powers in stride down the left sideline. Powers turned on the jets and cruised to the end zone, making it 28-10 with 13:51 to go.

Whatever momentum Jackson State was grabbing, though, was quickly suffocated or so it seemed. On the second play of the ensuing series, Moussa completed a pass to Sheread who bolted for 68 yards to set the Rattlers up in the red zone. Untimely penalties and a sack, however, killed the drive and Florida A&M had to settle for a Cameron Gillis field goal try. The attempt was blocked by Jaheem Hazel and suddenly there was life again for the Tigers.

With the pressure starting to mount, FAMU’s defense made the play it desperately needed midway through the fourth. JSU running back Irv Mulligan coughed it up after a solid run and Dakar Edwards. Review determined that it was indeed a fumble. Moussa and company took back over.

Florida A&M v Jackson State
Rattlers quarterback Jeremy Moussa threw for 150 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday against Jackson State.
Photo by Rich Storry/Getty Images

Running back Jaquez Yant received the next three handoffs as the offense started to bleed the clock. Jackson State’s defense, try as they might, could only watch helplessly as Yant bullied his way for first down after first down. When the dust settled, it was a 28-10 victory.

Yant finished his day with 11 carries for 72 yards and a touchdown. Moussa completed 12 of his 22 passes for 150 yards and a pair of TDs. The Rattlers defense buckled down greatly from a season ago in this game, allowing just ten points, JSU’s lowest total dating back to the 2021 Celebration Bowl.

Jackson State struggled greatly for much of the day. The high-octane offense from the MEAC/SWAC challenge was nowhere to be found on Sunday as they put up just 72 yards on the ground. McDonald threw for 149 yards and a score. JSU turned the ball over two times.

Preseason favorite Florida A&M is now at the controls in the SWAC East division and it will be the T,C. Taylor’s squad playing catch up.

The Rattlers (1-0) will face South Florida next Saturday in Tampa Bay. Jackson State (1-1) takes on Southern.