Junior James Kenner had his second straight 100-yard rushing performance on Saturday, finishing with 124 yards. [NINA LIN/THE STATESMAN]
Junior James Kenner had his second straight 100-yard rushing performance on Saturday, finishing with 124 yards. [NINA LIN/THE STATESMAN]

The Stony Brook football team put together a hard-fought second half against CAA powerhouse Maine on Saturday, but in the end, they could not come away with a season-saving victory. The Seawolves (3-5, 1-4 in CAA) lost by the score of 19-14, and were eliminated from FCS playoff contention.

At halftime, things looked bleak for Stony Brook as they trailed 13-0 on the road, and once again the offense was struggling to get much of anything going. But, in the third quarter, the Seawolves running game got into gear.

On the first drive of the second half junior running back James Kenner and freshman running back Tyler Fredericks ran for a combined 39 yards, to help power an 11 play, 67-yard drive for Stony Brook. The possession ended in a touchdown, after senior quarterback Lyle Negron found the end zone on a one yard, fourth-and-goal rush.

Early in the fourth quarter, Stony Brook reached Maine’s 32-yard line, but was faced with a 4th-and-10 situation. Negron was then able to keep the drive alive, finding junior tight end Will Tye for a 22-yard first down connection.  

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One play later, Kenner scored on a one-yard touchdown rush, and after a successful extra point, the Seawolves had a 14-13 lead.

Maine would respond on their next drive by going 91 yards in just 1:57. With 5:27 remaining in the fourth quarter, Maine quarterback Marcus Wasilewski delivered a 24-yard touchdown pass to John Ebeling to give the Black Bears a six-point lead. Maine then attempted a two-point conversion, but failed when a Wasilewski pass was picked off by senior defensive back Derrick Morgan.

Stony Brook would receive the ball back on their 14-yard line to start the next possession. A 15-yard pass by Negron to red-shirt freshman wideout Nick Wagner, followed by a 31-yard run by Kenner would get the Seawolves quickly down the field to Maine’s 37 yard line.

Two short rushes would then setup a 3rd-and-4 situation for SBU. However, Negron could not complete a third down pass attempt to junior receiver Adrian Coxson or a fourth down pass to junior wideout Jahrie Level, and the Seawolves turned the ball over on downs.

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Stony Brook would have one last chance to score, when they got the ball back with 40 seconds remaining in the fourth. But, the game, and the team’s playoff hopes would come to an end after Negron had a pass intercepted by Maine’s Axel Ofori, Jr.

This game had a familiar feel to it for the Seawolves, as their defense played well enough to keep them in it, but the team failed to generate enough on offense to come away with the victory.

The Black Bears who came into Saturday averaging 460.9 yards per game, only put up 258 total yards against the Stony Brook defense. Maine only had 117 yards in the second half.

The defense did a good job of pressuring one of the CAA’s best quarterbacks, as Wasilewski was sacked five times. Sophomore defensive lineman Victor Ochi was credited with 2.5 sacks in the game.

On offense the Seawolves relied heavily on their run game, most likely due to Negron’s injured throwing shoulder. Stony Brook ran the ball 51 times, and averaged 3.6 yards per carry.

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Kenner, taking more than half of the team’s carries, finished with 124 yards on the ground, for his second straight 100 yard rushing performance. Fredericks also had a productive day, finishing with 75 yards on 15 carries.

Where the offense struggled once again was in the passing game. Negron had a tough outing for a second straight week, as he went 6-of-22, threw two interceptions, and was sacked four times.

He was only able to connect with star receiver Malcolm Eugene once, and did not complete a pass to Coxson all game. The Black Bears ranked second in the CAA in passing yards against coming into Saturday, and made life even more difficult for the already slumping Negron.

The banged up Seawolves have had trouble adjusting to their new conference this year. They have posted a 1-4 record against CAA opponents, and have dropped four straight conference games.

The Seawolves played tough against conference rivals Towson, New Hampshire and Maine, but in all three games fell apart late.

If the Seawolves were healthy, maybe things could have been different this season. Instead, the story this year has too often been about an injured quarterback unable to make key completions and a worn down defense unable to come up with critical stops late in games.

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Stony Brook now has three games left in there season, all against CAA opponents. They will return home this Saturday to take on Richmond at 1 p.m.  

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