Stony Brook fought hard in Durham against the nation’s fifth-ranked team in New Hampshire, but could not overcome two fumbles lost, an interception and a critical blocked extra point as they lost to the Wildcats 28-20 in a CAA Football matchup at Cowell Stadium Saturday afternoon.
The Seawolves were able to get very productive performances on the offensive end from Donavin Washington and Adrian Coxson, but it was not enough. Coxson finished the day with eight catches for 101 yards and a touchdown.
It was Washington who had the career day, however, finishing with 11 catches for 102 yards, both of which are career-highs. The 11 receptions tie the freshman for third on the single-game receptions list, two behind Lynell Suggs, who set the record at Albany in 2007.
Stony Brook got off to a hot start, dominating the first quarter and at the end of it, leading 14-0. The Seawolves defense looked like their dominant selves, and the offense looked like a well-oiled machine, as they outgained New Hampshire 154-18 in the opening quarter.
On the first drive of the game, quarterback Conor Bednarski led his team 81 yards on 10 plays and capped it with a nice seam pass to Will Tye for an 11-yard touchdown.
After forcing a Wildcat three-and-out, Bednarski marched his team back down the field again. This time the drive was a little quicker, going 76 yards on only six plays, with the big play being a Marcus Coker 32-yard rush, down into the red zone, which had nine yards added onto it due to a facemask penalty.
On the next play, Stacey Bedell took the ball and ran it eight yards for a touchdown and the Seawolves were in control after the Graham Ball extra point made it 14-0.
This was the second time this season that the Seawolves scored 14 points in the first quarter, and just like they did in the William & Mary game, they blew this lead as well. The Wildcats would regain the lead by halftime, shutting out the Seawolves in the second quarter and not letting them cross midfield.
New Hampshire rode its quarterback Andy Vailas, and he scored twice in the quarter. The first was a quarterback draw, to which Vailas just took it to the left side of the offensive line and had nothing but green in front of him to as he scored from 18 yards out to make it 14-7.
On the first play of the next drive, Coxson was wide open down the middle of the field, but Bednarski overthrew him by about five yards in what would have been an easy touchdown. Instead, the Seawolves were forced to punt after getting 17 yards on the drive.
New Hampshire then took the lead for good with 4:36 to play in the second quarter on a six-play drive, capped again by a Vailas run from 14 yards out to make it 14-13 Stony Brook.
But when the Wildcats went out to convert the PAT, they lined up to go for two and then reverted back to the traditional extra point formation.
New Hampshire then faked it, as the kicker Christian Breda took a pitch from his holder and ran it in, surprising the Stony Brook special teams and giving New Hampshire a 15-14 lead going into halftime.
With 4:47 left in the third quarter, New Hampshire used more trickery to add points to their total. Vailas threw it to running back Nico Steriti, who was located off to the right side of him. Steriti then threw it to a wide-open R.J. Harris up the right sideline. This completely fooled the Seawolves defense, and Harris ran it the rest of the 73 yards to give New Hampshire a 21-14 lead.
Breda drilled the extra point off the goalpost, which kept the game at a seven-point deficit.
UNH was getting ready to score again on their next drive when the Wildcats marched down to the Stony Brook three yard line, but on second and goal, a fade pattern intended for Harris was intercepted on a great play by Jaheem Woods to keep the deficit at seven.
On Stony Brook’s first full drive of the fourth quarter, the Seawolves were faced with one of the many crucial fourth downs they faced in the game’s final quarter and Bedell made what is probably the play of the year to date.
On fourth and one, Bedell took the hand off up the middle and was stuffed about three yards behind the line of scrimmage. He then proceeded to back away from the pile, circle back around to the other side of the field, and pick up eight yards and the first down. That drive would not produce any points though, as Bednarski was intercepted at the UNH 25 yard line.
That was Conor’s only interception of the game, in a day which he went 22-41 for 227 yards and two touchdowns.
Another great play by a Stony Brook defensive player kept the game at seven. Christian Ricard was able to bust through the field goal protection and block a Breda attempt from 40 yards, and the Seawolves were given great field position.
The Seawolves took advantage of this and were able to claw within one, but a critical special teams play doomed Stony Brook. Bednarski hit Coxson down the middle of the field for a 31-yard touchdown with 3:22 left to make it a 21-20 game. But Ball’s extra point was blocked, and the lead was preserved.
Insurance points were scored on the next possession in a very easy fashion. Jimmy Owens burst up the middle with just under two minutes left and the field was wide open for what would be a 51-yard touchdown to make it 28-20.
Stony Brook would get the ball back with 1:36 left in the game, by Bednarski was strip-sacked by Cody Muller and the Wildcats recovered to seal the game with 1:05 left.
This loss ended Stony Brook’s three-game winning streak and its wild-card hopes of getting a spot in the NCAA FCS tournament.