The Florida Memorial Lions (6-3, 5-1 Sun) kept their hopes of an NAIA Sun Conference title with a 37-24 win over the upstart Thomas University Nighthawks at Memorial Stadium in Thomasville, GA. From the first drive the Lions would display their offensive explosiveness ending with a Cedquan Smith hit Michael Cabelle for a 6-yard touchdown for an early 7-0 start.
The Nighthawks would surprise the Lions as TU’s James Amaker took a run off tackle and scampered 65 yards to tie the score. Shortly thereafter Smith would hit David Studstill on a 15 yard pass and Florida Memorial would never trail after that. Markell Lee would haul in a 39-yard bomb from Smith to run the score up to 21-7. FMU Kicker Kesnel Baptiste nailed a 39-yard field goal to give FAMU a 24-7 halftime lead.
The resilient Nighthawks, in their first year of competitive football, would show some resilience. In the third quarter they allowed just one touchdown, but the extra point was no good. Going into the third quarter, FMU held a 30-7 lead. The Nighthawks would not go quietly in the night.
They started the fourth quarter scoring with a safety, making the score 30-9. Jarek Foster would take a pass from Charles 49-yards for the score. That made the score 30-16 with 10:50 remaining in the fourth. FMU’s Walter Wilbon would score on a 14-yard scamper, putting FMU at their final tally of 37 points.
The Nighthawks would make it interesting with an 80-yard kickoff return after the score to bring the game to its final score of 37-24.
FAMU put up 489 yards of total offense, while allowing about half that at 254 for TU. Florida Memorial quarterback Cedquan Smith threw for 282 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. Wilbon would gain 111 yards on 14 carries.
FMU will conclude its regular season next week against Keiser who is also tied for first in the conference. With being the league’s leading scoring team, they hold an edge in the conference’s tiebreaker categories.
FMU Head Coach suspended for the game
In a very unusual series of events, FMU head coach Bobby Rome II was suspended from the game. He was notified by the conference on late Friday of the infractions. At the end of Florida memorial’s win against Southeastern, the team did a “rowboat” simulation. The conference deemed that it was excessive celebration and because of it, the head coach was suspended for the game.
What is unusual about the suspension is that in 2022, when Southeastern defeated FMU, their team did the “rowboat” celebration and were just penalized 15 yards. Rome did not support his team responding after this year’s victory with reciprocating the “rowboat” celebration, but accepted his suspension though he was not sure it was an appropriate penalty.
He watched the game somberly from the stands and was not able to interact withany players until 30 minutes after the game. While disappointed he could not coach is team, he was happy that his assistants were able to get the job done. Assistant head coach Michael Jones served as the interim head coach for the game.
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