After a tough homecoming loss, coach Mike London and Howard University rebounded Saturday with a 31-23 victory over conference leader Florida A&M University (FAMU) at Greene Stadium.
With the win, HU (4-4, 4-2 MEAC) gave the Rattlers (6-3, 5-1 MEAC) their first conference loss of the season while keeping their own Celebration Bowl hopes alive.
“It’s huge,” London said after the game. “In this conference, you better bring your ‘A’ game every Saturday. It was disappointing last week, but to beat the number one team at our place, [and] celebrate with our fans and players, it’s really special.
“I’m proud of this team,” London continued. “[We] lost all our linebackers except one, our best corner [Bryan Cook] was out, and [we were] playing a true freshman on their best receiver [Chad Hunter]. I’m out there holding my breath and those guys are out there playing. [It’s] true to the next guy up mentality.”
Despite giving up nearly 450 total yards offensively to the Rattlers, Howard’s defense made stops down the stretch and held FAMU to only six points after intermission.
“The defense was put in some uphill positions, but they were able to respond back,” London said. “They did a phenomenal job. This is one of the games that all three elements had to contribute. This win was truly a team effort.”
Offensively, the Bison racked up 420 total yards, including 247 on the ground. Sophomore tailback Dedrick Parson led the way with a game-high 149 yards and a TD.
“He’s been like that all year,” London said of Parson’s performance. “He’s had some phenomenal games for us. It’s refreshing to see a young man [with] that never says die and never quit attitude. [It] is the epitome of what effort is and hanging in there. I’m so proud of him.”
HU capitalized on all four chances inside the red zone, including three touchdowns.
FAMU took the early lead, 7-0, but a pair of touchdown passes from second-year quarterback Caylin Newton and a 11-yard touchdown run by Parson gave HU a 21-10 advantage after one.
After FAMU trimmed the margin before halftime, 21-17, Howard pushed the lead back to double digits with a 1-yard QB sneak over the top by Newton.
Early in the fourth, FAMU made it a one-possession game again with a 15-yard TD pass from Ryan Stanley to Xavier Smith to cut the lead to 28-23. But Howard freshman kicker Faraji Joseph (Greensboro, N.C.) hit a 24-yard field goal to complete the scoring, and the Bison defense held on down the stretch.
Junior wideouts Kyle Anthony and Jequez Ezzard each scored a touchdown for HU, while safety Tye Freeland (Petersburg, Va.) led the defense with nine tackles (eight solo), a forced fumble and an interception.
On Nov. 10, Howard will play its final road game of the regular season at Norfolk State. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.