Stony Brook’s defense dominated in the second half, paving the way for all 21 points of the Seawolves second half by stifling the Rams’ rushing attack, and Stony Brook won its final game at LaValle Stadium in 2014 on Saturday afternoon 35-14 in a CAA football matchup.
“Rhode Island has come out against every single team this year and played very well,” head coach Chuck Priore said after the game. “They put together a nice game-plan in the first half and kept us off balance.”
It was the first half that surprised a lot of Stony Brook fans as well. The winless Rams played evenly with the Seawolves, with Lyle McCombs gashing the otherwise stout defensive line of Stony Brook for 188 yards on 20 carries, along with a 24-yard touchdown run late in the first quarter.
“They really only ran two plays and were able to gas us,” senior Christian Ricard, who was playing in his last game at LaValle Stadium, said.
This rushing attack was helped by the fact that the Seawolves were missing two of their top defensive linemen in Aaron Thompson and Victor Ochi. Ochi was out with an ankle injury, while Thompson had knee surgery on Thursday for his torn ACL that was suffered in the Seawolves’ matchup with James Madison.
The loss of Thompson and Ochi took some getting used to, but the defense was able to regain its normal form in the second half.
“We had some young players, and in the second half they were stepping up,” Ricard said.
Speaking of the young kids, Tyrice Beverette had arguably his best game as a Seawolf. The redshirt freshman finished with the only two sacks the Seawolves defense had all game, along with three other tackles and a forced fumble in the fourth quarter that was subsequently picked up and taken 25 yards to the end zone by Julian Quintin.
“I just saw the ball appear and it was the easiest touchdown I’ve ever had,” the junior linebacker said. “All the credit goes to Tyrice on that. He played a monster game.”
On the offensive side of the ball, this was the first time Stony Brook scored in all four quarters en route to a season-high 35 points.
Stacey Bedell had a great game, rushing 21 times for 195 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including 75-yard and 56-yard touchdown runs, the first and last scores of the game.
Bedell took his first carry of the game up the middle, and then bounced it to the left sideline for the 75-yarder to give the Seawolves a 7-0 lead with 7:36 to play in the first quarter. Adrian Coxson finished the play, holding his block for the final 30 yards of the play allowing the sophomore running back to speed past and get into the end zone.
“He’s (Coxson) been blocking great for me all season,” sophomore Bedell said.
After McCombs hurdled a defender on a run to the left and scored from 24 yards out, the game was 7-7 after one quarter of play.
Stony Brook answered with 4:05 left in the first half, as Conor Bednarski hit Will Tye on an in route at the 10. Tye then juked a defender and beat the defenders to the far corner to give the Seawolves a 14-7 lead.
The Rams answered late. On third and four from the nine, James Caparell bootlegged around the left side of the line and cut upfield for a nine-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 14 and worry some of the 5,010 Seawolves-faithful in the stands as the game hit halftime.
At halftime, Stony Brook got a speech not from its head coach, but from a leader of the defense.
“He (Ochi) said that he would take that boot off and play with us,” Quintin said. “He just kept telling us to get back to our style of defense.”
That worked, as Stony Brook held the Rams to 60 yards of total offense in the second half, including holding McCombs to only 14 yards in the final 30 minutes. With those yards, he finished with 202 yards. That is the first time since 2006 that the Seawolves have allowed an opposing rusher to get above 200 yards, when they allowed Justise Hairston of Central Connecticut to go for 217.
Bedell finished the scoring with a 56-yard touchdown with 4:16 to go in the game, as a wide receiver went in motion, opening up the right side of the defense. He saw it and his speed took care of the rest.
The Seawolves will look to finish above .500 in the CAA when they head up for the Empire Clash against Albany in the state’s capital on Nov. 22. This could be the first time that Stony Brook would finishes above the level mark in the conference, as last season, the Seawolves finished 3-5 in what is known as the toughest conference in the FCS.
“It’ll be my last game for Stony Brook so I’d love to go out with a win,” Ricard said. “It’d be huge for this team to get a win going into next year.”
Kickoff for the game is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.