FAMU Wins Cricket Celebration Bowl,Claims HBCU National Championship

December 19, 2023
President Robinson said FAMU is planning to recognize the Celebration Bowl/HBCU National Football Champions and other championship programs in early January 2024.
FAMU Wins Cricket Celebration Bowl,Claims HBCU National Championship

Florida A&M University (FAMU) won its first Cricket Celebration Bowl title with a comeback 30-26 win against Howard University, claiming the 2023 Historically Black College and University (HBCU) National Championship.

The victory marked the first Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) win in five years against the Mid-Eastern Atlantic Athletic Conference (MEAC) in the end of season matchup. Even as FAMU players and supporters savored the moment, President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., sought words to capture it.


Robinson with team

“It’s hard to describe how I feel right now. Our team did such a great job all season long under the leadership of Vice President/Athletic Director Tiffani-Dawn Sykes, head coach Willie Simmons, all the other coaches and staff in the Athletic program; it all culminated in the best of the best and winning the HBCU national championship here at the Celebration Bowl,” said Robinson, after the trophy presentation. “It was so overwhelming to see the stands filled with the orange and green. I am incredibly proud of the fans who came out and helped really pull this team to victory. It is our time.”

Since the University is closed for the winter break, and students, faculty and staff are dispersed for the  holidays, FAMU is planning to recognize the Celebration Bowl/HBCU National Football Champions and other championship programs in early January 2024, Robinson said.

The Saturday, December 16 game at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta was attended by more than 40,000 fans, including U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, a Howard alum, U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock, members of the FAMU Board of Trustees, FAMU Foundation Board of Directors, students, alumni, and other stakeholders.

Howard jumped out to a 14-0 first quarter lead before the Rattlers responded with a touchdown to ease their supporters’ early concern. Howard then sacked FAMU quarterback Jeremy Moussa for a safety pushing the score to 16-7.  Trailing 16-10 at halftime, the Rattlers seemed set to settle the contest after going up 24-19 in the fourth quarter, when a Bison interception and touchdown swung the pendulum back in favor of Howard, 26-24.  Shortly afterward, the Rattlers took the lead for good with another Moussa touchdown. However, two late Howard interceptions put the result beyond doubt.

Simmons lauded the talent, experience, depth, and toughness of his 12-1 team.


Willie Simmons with Celebration Bowl Trophy

“Our guys really accepted that challenge. We started the game relatively slow. They jumped out 14 to nothing. But again, the resilience of this team stood the test of time again and again,” Simmons said. “They showed why they’re one of the most mentally tough teams I’ve ever coached, just to stay together, to stay poised.”

FAMU secured their first Cricket Celebration Bowl appearance by winning its first SWAC Football Championship with a 35-14 win over Prairie View A&M University at Bragg Memorial Stadium Saturday, Dec 2.

Clinching the Celebration Bowl caps an undefeated SWAC season and a remarkable year for the University – breaking into U.S. News & World Report Top 100 National Public Universities at No. 91; No. 3 among all HBCUs, the highest ranked public HBCU for the fifth consecutive year, No. 21 in the U.S. News & World Report Social Mobility Index; record fundraising and research.

In a holiday letter to alumni and supporters, Athletics Director Sykes extended her heartfelt gratitude for their unwavering support during a historic year for Rattler football.

“The 2023 FAMU Football team, led by Head Coach Willie Simmons, has left an indelible mark on our university’s history, capping off a remarkable 12-1 season with a resounding victory in the 2023 Cricket Celebration Bowl,” Sykes wrote. “As a result, we proudly stand as the undisputed 2023 HBCU National Champions, a testament to the dedication and talent of our student-athletes, coaching staff, and the incredible support from our alumni and fans.”