B-CU earns playoff berth despite loss
I Got Next! Special to West Orlando News Online
If ever there was a reprieve for the Wildcats for losing the Florida Classic to arch-nemesis Florida A&M, it is the fact that B-CU’s season continues while the Rattlers get to watch from the stands at Municipal Stadium in Daytona Beach.
The selection committee for the NCAA Division I FCS Football Championships showed respect to Bethune-Cookman’s recent success, as the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference’s (MEAC) automatic qualifier and shared champion, the Wildcats will not receive a bye week, bypassing the first round, but that they will play host to another group of Wildcats. Selected as B-CU’s opponent, the New Hampshire Wildcats (7-4), of the Colonial Athletic Association, will travel to Daytona Beach for a December 4 game in the second round of the 2010 playoffs. The game times are undetermined as of yet.
B-CU would rather have an outright claim to the conference title and the berth, which accompanies it but I’m sure they’ll ride with the current scenario.
FAMU comes from behind to seal win
Florida A&M senior Philip Sylvester and his FAMU teammates rallied from behind to hand Bethune-Cookman University its only loss in a 38-27 thriller at the Orlando Citrus Bowl Saturday. The 5-foot-10, 185-pound running back scored three TDs in front of a healthy Classic crowd of 61,712.
He was presented FAMU’s Most Valuable Player Award. After being down in the first half, Rattler faithful ate the victory up. FAMU’s Marching 100 played well into the evening and fans partied in the stands.
The Rattlers trailed 27-14 at halftime. Quarterback, effective Austin Trainor was 19-38 for 261 yards and a touchdown.
B-CU wide-out Eddie Poole, a 6-3, 185-pound transfer from Rutgers was named B-CU’s Most Valuable Player. He was good for a team-high six receptions for 112 yards that included a 35-yard touchdown pass from Matt Johnson, which gave B-CU a 27-14 lead to end the first half. Poole and JeVaughn Reams posted season-high receiving yardage totals. Poole had six catches for 112 yards and Reams five for 140. Johnathan Moment scored the first B-CU touchdown. Running backs Androse Bell and Isidore Jackson, each rushed for one touchdown apiece.
In the second half the tide changed tremendously when Johnson was bull-dozed by FAMU’s Kendrick Washington. He left the game after passing for 209 yards, completing 11 of 16 attempts.
Enter Jackie Robinson, who went 4-for-11 in passing for 91 yards in the air. He rushed 10 times for 75-yards. His long was 41. Third-stringer Troy Dannehower also saw a “smidget” of action. He barely had a stat to speak of. Suffice to say without Johnson at the helm, B-CU’s offense was absent. The Wildcats were shut out in the second half and B-CU’s offense gained just 57 yards after Johnson’s exit.
Defensively, Michael Williams had two picks, one that temporarily stopped FAMU’s momentum in the third quarter. Williams, Reggie Sandilands, Ozzie Slater and Chris Perry each had seven tackles.
Wildcats live to play again
The Wildcats finished in a three-way tie for first place in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference at 7-1 with South Carolina State and FAMU, but B-CU earned the league’s automatic berth into the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs according to the MEAC’s tiebreaker procedure.
“I’m not going to let this damper our season,” said B-CU coach Brian Jenkins. “I’m hurt and I apologize to the fans for not getting it done, but 10-1? I’m good. We have to turn around and get ready for the playoffs next week.”
“It just shows that people have noticed the hard work that this program has put in,” Head Coach Brian Jenkins said of the honor. “We’re excited about finally getting some respect in college football and that we were able to get a bye, which we need. To be able to host the next event in Daytona is really big too.”
Meanwhile, South Carolina State (9-2) will travel to Georgia Southern (7-4) for a November 27th game. The success of the Wildcats aided in the two-bid season, as SCSU’s only FCS loss was to the Wildcats, 14-0. B-CU was the at-large bid the last time the MEAC had two schools in the playoffs, in 2003.
“I can assure you that this team will continue to prepare to win and we’ll play our hearts out for [the fans],” said the 2010 MEAC Coach of the Year. “It gives our fans a chance to experience a playoff once again and it gives us an opportunity to continue to reach for our goal to win a national championship.”