NORFOLK, Va. – Larry Bishop's 2-yard touchdown run with 56 seconds left was the game-winner as Norfolk State improved to 2-0 in the MEAC with a dramatic 35-28 win over Florida A&M on Saturday afternoon at Dick Price Stadium. Bishop's first TD of the year came after the Spartans (2-3, 2-0 MEAC) recorded their season-high fifth takeaway of the game. NSU linebacker Kyle Archie forced FAMU (2-4, 1-2) receiver Marcus Williams to fumble on a 6-yard reception. Spartan lineman De'Shaan Dixon pounced on the loose ball at the Rattlers' 40 with 4:24 left in the fourth quarter.
The Spartans picked up three first downs on their next drive. Quarterback Juwan Carter had the last one, a 17-yard scramble down to the FAMU 2. Two plays later, Bishop plunged in for the go-ahead score. FAMU got the ball back and made one first down before NSU forced the Rattlers to turn the ball over on downs, giving NSU its first-ever home win over the Rattlers in eight all-time meetings at Dick Price Stadium.
The Rattlers held a sizeable edge in total offense (485-243), but the Spartans' big-play defense was the story. NSU came into the week ranked tied for fifth in the nation in turnover margin and figures to improve in that area after a game in which the Spartans had one interception and four fumble recoveries, scoring off two of them.
FAMU took a 7-0 lead on a 9-yard TD pass from Ryan Stanley to Brandon Norwood in the first quarter, but NSU tied the game in the second when Archie returned a fumble 38 yards for a score. Archie's touchdown was set up by defensive end Nigel Chavis' second forced fumble off the half, which came at the tail end of a tackle in the backfield.
The Spartans took a 14-7 lead on a highlight-reel worthy 24-yard TD pass from Carter to George Wahee, who out-positioned and out-leaped a FAMU defender in the end zone with 3:34 left in the second quarter. But the Rattlers had the answer, knotting the score at 14-all on an 18-yard pass from Stanley to Williams with 38 seconds left in the first half.
FAMU pulled ahead 21-14 on Tevin Spells' 3-yard TD run at the 9:45 mark of the third quarter, but the Spartans got within 21-20 on a 45-yard scoring strike from Carter to Taylor less than three minutes later. The point-after missed, keeping FAMU in the lead.
The Rattlers looked poised to add to their lead in the fourth, putting together a 76-yard drive that put the Spartans' backs up against the end zone. But the NSU defense came up big again, as safety Nhyre' Quinerly forced FAMU running back Devin Bowers to fumble inside the Spartan 10-yard line. Cornerback J.T. Wahee picked it up and raced 96 yards for the go-ahead score, the Spartans' second defensive touchdown of the game and fourth of the year. Carter then found Chuma Awanna for a two-point conversion pass to give NSU a 28-21 lead with 9:43 to play.
The Rattlers took advantage of three penalties against NSU to set up the tying score. Stanley threw his third touchdown of the day, a 25-yarder to Chad Hunter, to deadlock the game at 28 with 7:19 to play. The Spartans went three-and-out and punted on their next possession, giving the ball back to FAMU with just over six minutes to play. But on the seventh play of their next march, Archie was in the right place at the right time to force FAMU into its fourth fumble of the game. NSU capitalized from there to win the teams' first meeting since 2014.
Carter passed for 164 yards and two touchdowns. Taylor made six receptions for 70 yards and George Wahee had four for 48, and both caught their first scoring passes of the season. Bowers rushed for 141 yards for the Rattlers, and Stanley threw for 235 yards.
The Spartan defense had a bevy of standouts. Linebacker Anthony Smith had a career-high 18 tackles. Chavis had a career-best 12, including a sack and the two forced fumbles. Archie made 10 stops, recovered a fumble and forced another, while Quinerly had eight tackles, an interception and a forced fumble of his own. As a team, NSU forced five turnovers for the first time since a 27-24 win at Bethune-Cookman on Nov. 9, 2013.