In less than 24 hours, the Florida A&M Rattlers and Bethune-Cookman Wildcats will meet in the 33rd Florida Blue Florida Classic. The contest has grown into one of the premier HBCU showcases attracting over one and half million fans since its inception in 1978. The two teams have combined for eleven (11) conference titles during that same timeframe and have created many memorable moments in this annual showdown.
Players and coaches from both teams will surely seek to create their own magical Florida Classic moment when the two teams square off Saturday at 2:00 in the Citrus Bowl. FAMU coach Earl Holmes, who is a former Rattler player, was asked about his favorite Florida Classic moment at today’s Kickoff Luncheon. Coach Holmes replied “ask me that same question after tomorrow’s game”. With that in mind, here are some of the most memorable Florida Classic moments.
Memorable Florida Classic Moments
1978 – Florida A&M trailed BCU 17-0 at halftime but rallied to a 27-17 victory. Rudy Hubbard’s squad went on to win the 1-AA (now FCS) National Championship that season.
1994 – BCU QB Tony Kerrin connected with Morris Nobles on a 2 yard TD reception in the corner of the endzone to give the Wildcats a 27-24 lead with :47remaining in the contest. BCU went on to win by the same margin and coach Cy McClairen earned his first victory over the Rattlers as a head coach.
2003 – Daytona Beach native and current Chicago Bear, Eric Weems, scored 3 touchdowns and helped the Wildcats rally from a 28-10 halftime deficit. The final touchdown was set up by a fake punt attempt on 4th and 17 with less than 2:00 remaining in the contest. A FAMU player was flagged for pass interference on the fake punt and BCU was awarded an automatic first down.
Later in the drive quarterback Allen Suber avoided a sack, rolled to his right, and hit Weems who beat triple coverage just beyond the pylon with 9 seconds remaining in the game. BCU prevailed 39-35 in front of the largest crowd (73,358) in Florida Classic history.
2004 – Florida Classic fans were treated to the first overtime in the history of the series; Wildcats fans were treated with a 58-52 win.
FAMU’s Ben Dougherty (QB) and Roosevelt Kiser (WR) had career days in that contest. Midway through the third quarter, Dougherty connected with Kiser on a 66 yard TD reception and extended FAMU’s lead to 45-24.
Head coach Alvin Wyatt then made the decision to move former NFL All-Pro defensive back Nick Collins from safety to cornerback with the assignment of blanketing Kiser. The move proved to be very effective for the maroon and gold. The FAMU passing game was severely limited as a result of the coaching decision and the Wildcats outscored FAMU 34-7 from that point forward. Rodney Johnson’s 15 yard touchdown run in overtime sealed the victory for BCU.
Coach Wyatt was so overcome with emotion that he fainted (due to dehydration) and had to be carted off by medical personnel.
Not only was the 2004 victory the first overtime win in Florida Classic history, it was also the first time that BCU secured three consecutive victories over its arch-rival.