Bethune-Cookman proved Ocho Cinco wrong about extending its Florida Blue Florida Classic winning streak to ocho…err…eight wins. The Wildcats scored the game’s final 16 points for a 33-19 victory over Florida A&M before a Camping World Stadium crowd of 52,142 Saturday evening.
Tydarius Peters made two (2) fourth-quarter interceptions, including a 90-yard interception return for a touchdown with 17 seconds remaining to continue the Wildcats winning ways in HBCU’s “Premier Football Classic” as well as to end an injury-prone season at 7-5 (5-2 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) with a third consecutive nail-biter.
In addition to Peters’ late play, Bethune-Cookman used a 99-yard Tupac Isme burst, a blocked point-after for two points – the team’s third of its kind on the year (most by any FCS on the campaign), and two pass plays of 40 yards or longer to set up touchdowns to deny the Rattlers a share of the MEAC championship. North Carolina A&T won the title outright with a 45-0 defeat of North Carolina A&T in Durham.
Florida A&M took a 19-17 lead on Ryan Stanley’s 9-yard touchdown pass to George Webb with 37 seconds remaining in the third quarter. But on the ensuing PAT, Vernon Walker IIIscooped up the blocked kick and returned it for two points to tie the game.
BCU responded with a five-play, 75-yard drive that featured a 44-yard David Israel to Malique Jackson completion that set up first-and-goal. Fellow quarterback Jabari Dunham scored two plays later to give the Wildcats a 26-19 lead with 13:53 left in the game.
From there, it was the defense, as Peters’ two interceptions stopped FAMU drives inside the Wildcats 25-yard line.
BCU trailed 13-7 at halftime, but regained the lead in grand fashion when Isme, sprung by a block from Jonathon Thomas, registered the longest running play in school history on his touchdown to make it 14-13.
The lead increased to 17-13 when Uriel Hernandez booted a 44-yard field goal with 6:13 left on a drive set up by a Trevor Merritt interception.
Israel got the Wildcats on the board in the second quarter on a 1-yard keeper that made it 7-3 with 8:40 left in the first half. A 48-yard pass to Steffon Francois, who was able to get one foot in on the sideline, put the Wildcats in scoring position.
Israel finished 12 of 23 for 216 yards as he managed an offense that produced 417 total yards, but more importantly, had zero (0) turnovers.
Isme gained 107 yards on just five carries and also caught one pass for 12. Jimmie Robinson finished with 41 yards rushing, adding a pass reception for nine yards and 43 yards on a return. Keavon Mitchell led BCU receivers with four catches for 63 yards.