FMU Completes Historic Rally, Tops Webber International 34-31, Wins First Homecoming Game
Florida Memorial scored 20 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to earn the historic victory
MIAMI – Trailing 31-14 with less than 13 minutes left in its first-ever homecoming football game, Florida Memorial University needed to do something historic if it was going to rally back to win.
That’s exactly what the Lions did.
FMU scored 20 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, capitalizing on two turnovers – including a 31-yard interception return for a touchdown by defensive back Darius Conley – to power a historic come-from-behind 34-31 victory over visiting Webber International University Saturday afternoon in front of the largest crowd of the year at Nathaniel “Traz” Powell Stadium.
Florida Memorial completed its rally midway through the fourth, taking advantage of a short field following a Webber International fumble at its own 11-yard line. Freshman quarterback Demarcus McEachern put the Lions ahead 32-31 with a 6-yard scamper around the left side then gave FMU a three-point cushion after he connected with Deandre Williams on the ensuing two-point conversion to put the Lions ahead 34-31 with just over seven minutes to play.
The Lions’ defense did its part, protecting the lead by stifling the Warriors offense through its final two possessions of the game – including coming up with a big fourth-down stop by forcing an incomplete pass with 46 seconds left in the game.
FMU, which will play its regular season finale next Saturday (Nov. 13) on the road at Southeastern University, took over on downs and was able to take a knee to run out the remaining time, sending the 3,000-plus crowd into celebration as Florida Memorial had clinched a win its first homecoming football game.
Prior to 2021, Florida Memorial University would culminate its homecoming in the spring. But since the “rebirth” of its football program, the school shifted its homecoming to the fall to that homecoming’s apex would be at a home football game.
The Lions, who debuted new orange uniform tops for the special game, etched their names in the history books, not just for the first homecoming win; but also, for largest comeback victory (17 points), first win against a Mid-South Conference Sun Division opponent, and most home wins in a season (2).
Conley’s fourth-quarter 31-yard pick-six, which he nabbed by perfectly timing his break on a Webber swing pass, also set a new modern-era program-best mark for longest interception return for a touchdown – breaking the record previously held by Terry Smith and it was his third interception of the season – most on the team this season.
Florida Memorial (2-8, 1-4 Mid-South Conference Sun Division) did have a positive start to Saturday’s game. Defensive back Donche Robinson ended Webber International’s first offensive drive with an interception, allowing the FMU offense to go on a 14-play, 69-yard drive that running back George Young capped with a 1-yard plunge into the end zone to put Lions up 7-0 with just over five minutes left in the first quarter.
Webber International would go on to score 24 straight points after that, as FMU’s offense struggled to find the same rhythm it had on its first series. The Warriors (1-8, 0-5) took that 24-7 advantage into halftime and appeared to still have the momentum when they responded to Florida Memorial’s third-quarter TD – a 6-yard reception by Markell Lee – with what ended up being their only score of the fourth quarter that put them up 34-14.
As they have over the past three games, the Lions relied on its running game to buoy the offense. Florida Memorial ran the ball 63 times Saturday – also a new modern-era program record – with Amir Brown posting a game-high 104 yards on 14 carries. Young carried the ball 19 times for 81 yards and his first-quarter score. McEachern was credited with a team-high 21 carries, though many of those were either scrambles on passing plays or sacks, for 16 net yards and two touchdowns.
McEachern, who was making the fourth start of his career, completed 8 of his 11 passes Saturday for 59 yards and his touchdown toss to Lee.
Christian Edgerson finished with 3 receptions for 31 yards – both team-highs – and Lee had 2 catches for 11 yards.
Defensively, Florida Memorial four different players finish tied for a team-high 6 total tackles – defensive back Kristopher Fowles, linebacker Kareem Roberts, and defensive linemen Philman Roundtree and Quaylen Hill. Hill had 1.5 tackles-for-loss couched in his total while also being credited with a forced fumble and he combined with Roundtree on sack.
Robinson had two interceptions, the most interceptions in a game by a single player in modern-era history, to go along with 3 total tackles while Joshua Mimms and Denorio Humes each finished with 5 total tackles.
Florida Memorial head coach Tim “Ice” Harris Sr. said his team showed a trait that he and his coaching staff have wanted to see all season.
“To be down 17 like we were, our guys had to show that they had something inside them – that resiliency – and it came out of them today,” Harris said. “That’s what we’ve been searching for. And to be able to get it done at home, it means a lot, especially on homecoming. This is something that the guys on this team carry with them when they graduate from Florida Memorial, and they’ll be able to come back and say that they were a part of setting the tradition and the standard in the football program here.”
“We feel great about establishing something at home…winning at home,” Harris said. “But now we have to get to the point where we can earn a win on the road and finish the strong next week and start a winning streak that we can ride into next year.”