The annual Celebration Bowl, held in Atlanta, Georgia, pits the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) champions against the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) champions. This year’s game saw a matchup between the Howard Bison (6-5) and the Florida A&M Rattlers (11-1).
The Rattlers came into the game with high expectations after having a stellar regular season, and head coach Willie Simmons winning the SWAC Coach of the Year Award.
For the Rattlers, the game started out like it has for the past couple games. FAMU started out slow and struggled offensively to put points on the board. Howard jumped out to an early 14-0 lead to end the first quarter.
Terrell Jennings finally got the Rattlers on the scoreboard with a 3-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter. The second also saw a safety by Howard, an interception by both teams, and a field goal by Florida A&M to send the game into halftime with the Rattlers trailing 10-16.
The third quarter was a scoreless defensive battle for both teams.
Things picked in the fourth, which brought the fans who traveled to Mercedes-Benz Stadium to their feet. Jeremy Moussa’s 21-yard pass for a touchdown to Kelvin Dean to start the fourth gave the Rattlers their first lead of the game 17-16.
The very next possession, Jeremy Moussa connected with Kelvin Dean again for a long 53-yard touchdown. A field goal, followed by an interception returned for a touchdown by Howard, put the Bison on top again 26-24.
With just under six minutes left in the game, Jeremy Moussa completed a 38-yard touchdown strike to Jah’Marae Sheread. A failed two-point conversion still put the Rattlers up 30-26. Florida A&M went on to win the game and bring back a Celebration Bowl victory and HBCU National Championship back home.
The Rattlers finished their season with a 12-1 record, with their only loss coming to the University of South Florida in the second game of the season. This is the first time since 1999 that Florida A&M has had a ten win season. The Rattlers also finished the season first in the FCS in total defense.
Chris Daniels – Gadsden County News Service