Silence was Howard's only reaction to tonight's 62-3 drubbing by Florida A&M. No comment. No reaction. And no explanation as to how a football team can be outscored, 112-3, in eight days.
"I don't have anything to say. They beat us," is all Howard Coach Floyd Keith would offer as he hustled his players out of the Gator Bowl locker room and onto the team bus.
FAMU ran up and down the Howard defense, gaining 535 yards and limiting the Bison to 42 total yards, including minus five total yards in the first half.
The defeat, Howard's fourth in five games, dropped the Bison to 0-3 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. FAMU is 3-1 overall, 2-0 in the conference.
It was Howard's worst defeat since Morgan State routed the Bison, 64-6, in 1960, and it followed last week's 50-0 loss to South Carolina State.
FAMU removed its first-string offense midway through the third quarter and still managed to score 27 points before the lights went out and 22,120 had filed out of the stadium.
FAMU used both Middletons, running back Frank Middleton scoring three touchdowns with the first unit, then giving second-string halfback Melvin Middleton (no relation) the opportunity to score the Rattlers' final two touchdowns.
Frank Middleton led all rushers with 121 yards on 17 carries. Melvin Sutton led Howard with 61 yards on 10 carries.
FAMU's defensive front sacked Bison quarterback Sandy Nichols seven times for 54 yards. Nichols finished the night with 15 carries for minus 45 yards rushing.
"This is exactly what we wanted," said FAMU Coach Rudy Hubbard. "We played a good game against a good team last week (in a 43-21 loss to Grambling State) and didn't win. I think our team came out tonight and showed how good it was."
Hubbard, who elected on several occasions to go for the two-point conversion when the game was clearly out of Howard's reach, was asked if he intentionally rolled up the score.
"What were we to do?" he asked.
Howard's first possession of the game gave an indication of the shape of things to come. After losing five yards in its first three plays from scrimmage, punt snapper Del Harris slid the ball between the legs of punter Jon Nicolaisen. The ball rolled through the end zone and, with only 1:28 elapsed, Howard trailed, 2-0.
The Rattlers never stopped in, rolling to a 23-3 advantage and forcing Howard to opt for a 38-yard Duke Amayo field goal in the first quarter to complete the Bison's longest drive of the night--43 yards.
After halftime, FAMU picked up where it left off, taking the opening kickoff and marching 72 yards in nine plays for a touchdown. The Rattlers scored on six of their seven possessions in the second half as Howard managed only 47 yards on eight second-half possessions.
FAMU got two touchdowns from quarterback Michael Kelly, a four-yard sweep and a 37-yard pass to wide receiver Vernest Ray Alexander. Running back Emory Collier, who carried seven times for 81 yards, also scored for FAMU.