The Stony Brook football team put an end to a three game losing streak on Saturday, as they defeated Bryant 21-13 at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium. A record setting 11,224 people came out to see the Seawolves in their homecoming night victory.
Senior quarterback Lyle Negron playing with an injured right throwing shoulder, threw for two touchdown passes in the game, and went 16-of-22 for 260 yards. Despite being limited in practice the entire week, he came up with big plays throughout the game.
Negron’s biggest throw of the game came with 9:15 to go in the fourth quarter. Bryant quarterback Mike Westerhaus had just made it a one point game, with a 13-yard touchdown rush.
With his team clinging to a 14-13 lead and the momentum seemingly have gone to the Bulldogs, Negron was able to find senior wide receiver and open Devante Wheeler over the middle of the field for a key 41-yard touchdown connection.
“I was glad Devante was able to score, because he works so hard,” Negron said. “And it gave us extra energy for defense.”
After the score, the Bulldogs responded with a 13 play, 47-yard drive, in which they converted on three different third down attempts. Bryant would eventually get to SBU’s 27 yard line, where they were faced with a third-and-six.
This time the Stony Brook defense would make a stand, as senior defensive lineman Leston Simpson would sack quarterback Mike Westerhaus for a one yard loss. Then on the ensuing fourth down attempt Westerhaus would throw an incomplete pass out of bounds down the right sideline.
“When we were on the sidelines coming out, coach was preaching ‘finish’,” said Simpson. “We just rallied as a defense, and came up with some big plays at the end.”
With 3:40 to go, the Seawolves’ offense was able to kill off the remaining time on the clock, and hold on for the win. A third-and-three conversion, on a throw by Negron to junior tight end Will Tye, would seal the victory for Stony Brook.
“We knew it would be a hard fought game, Head Coach Chuck Priore said. “And I thought we finished the game, which is important in the fourth quarter.”
Finishing the game was a big problem for Coach Priore’s team the week before against Towson. The Seawolves took a 21-10 lead into halftime, but were outscored 25-0 in the second half by the Tigers.
The win was a much need one for the Stony Brook, who had not won since their opening day 24-0 victory at Rhode Island. The Seawolves now sit at 2-3 overall on the season, although still 0-2 in CAA play.
For the second straight game, Stony Brook gave their home fans a lot to cheer about early on, as the offense came out hot out of the gate. Negron was particularly strong early on, finding his most frequent target in senior wideout Malcolm Eugene, three times on the team’s opening drive.
Eugene’s three receptions were good for a total of 50 yards, and helped put the Seawolves on the Bulldogs’ eight yard line. It was there that freshman running back Tyler Fredericks found a hole on the left side, and ran the ball in for a touchdown, to give his team an early 7-0 advantage.
Then, on Bryant’s first play on their next possession, sophomore defensive lineman forced a fumble by Bulldogs’ running back Paul Canevari, which was recovered by Stony Brook’s Max Martinez. The turnover gave the Seawolves great field position on Bryant’s 18 yard line.
After an incomplete pass, and a pair of short runs, Stony Brook was left with a 4th and 1 situation. Instead of going for the short field goal, Coach Priore decided to have his offense go for it.
But junior running back James Kenner was stopped at the line of scrimmage for no gain on the play, forcing the Seawolves to turn the ball over on downs.
The Bulldogs’ offense would ride the momentum from their team’s big defensive stand, and put together a 13 play, 91-yard drive that would end in a touchdown. Bryant tied the game up at seven with 3:18 remaining in the first, on a two yard touchdown pass from Mike Westerhaus to Ryan Barrett.
Then with 2:24 remaining in the action packed first quarter, Stony Brook would retake the lead, on a 63 yard touchdown reception by junior wide receiver Adrian Coxson.
Coxson caught a pass along the left sidelines from Negron at about midfield on the play.
He was then able to use his quickness to cut by a pair of defenders, and get to an opening in middle of the field, where he would run for the score.
But, despite the hot start, the offense failed to get much of anything going in the two middle quarters of the game.
After the Coxson touchdown, the Seawolves would end up punting on four of their next six possessions, with the other two ending in missed field goal attempts.
Senior kicker Nick Ferrara continued his struggles of late, missing on his only two field goal attempts in the game.
In the second quarter he missed a 28-yard attempt, and then in the third quarter, came up well short on a 53-yard attempt.
The Seawolves defense never relinquished the lead after the end of the first quarter, and was tough the entire night.
They gave up just 280 total yards in the game.
Coach Priore was particularly impressed with how his team battled through injuries this week. Negron, linebacker Jaward Dudley and corner Ivan May all played big roles in the win, despite be held out of the majority of practice this week due to injuries.
“We had some courageous efforts out there,” Coach Priore said, “and I’m most proud of that.”
This Saturday, Stony Brook will head to Colgate, for their final non-conference game of the season. After that the Seawolves will play have critical CAA matchups against New Hampshire, Maine, Richmond, James Madison and Albany.