The clock was ticking down in the third quarter. It was time for the Stony Brook football team to make its move. Down two scores to No. 25 William & Mary, the Seawolves went for it twice on fourth down and converted both times. Momentum was on their side.
But two plays later, just seconds into the fourth quarter, redshirt freshman quarterback Joe Carbone saw his pass on a deep slant down the right side tipped before senior defensive back Jared Velasquez swooped in to intercept it.
If there was any room for error in Stony Brook’s pursuit of a 3-0 start to its season, it was gone.
Five plays later, Tribe junior running back Kendell Anderson sealed the deal with a 59-yard touchdown run in his team’s 21-0 win over the Seawolves, their first loss of the season and the first time Stony Brook has been shutout since 2008 when the team lost in its Big South Conference debut against Liberty.
From the outside looking in, it seemed as if Stony Brook just needed one play to spark a comeback, something to turn an early deficit upside-down.
William & Mary was knocking on Stony Brook’s door in the final moments of the first half.
Up two touchdowns, the Tribe had four chances inside the Seawolves’ four-yard-line if they were not going to find a way into the endzone, a field goal looked inevitable.
After committing an offside penalty, senior defensive lineman Dante Allen sacked William & Mary’s junior quarterback Steve Cluley, keeping the Tribe from getting another play off, thus ending the first half.
It was the difference between falling behind three scores and heading into the locker room down two scores with the momentum.
If something was going to get the Seawolves going, it would have been that play. But, nothing ever materialized for head coach Chuck Priore’s team.
Again, the Tribe gave their opponents another chance to dig their cleats into the turf and fight their way into the game, but the Seawolves could not capitalize on a missed field goal with 10:47 to go in the third quarter.
Stony Brook’s next drive led to one of eight punts on the day and more importantly, no points.
It did not help that the Seawolves found themselves down two touchdowns in the first 21:02 of the game.
Stony Brook typically does a good job of controlling the tempo with its running attack, using it to help score 69 points in its first two contests, which is hard to do from behind.
When the final horn sounded, the Tribe had controlled possession for more than 10 minutes longer than the Seawolves did.
Carbone’s intercepted pass almost felt like the team’s last chance, and they would not get another opportunity to get back into the game.
All in all, while the Seawolves were never out of striking range until the fourth quarter, they were simply outplayed. The Tribe rushed for 301 yards to their 64 and passed for 165 yards to the Seawolves’ 103. The Tribe outgained the Seawolves by 299 yards.
Junior running back Stacey Bedell once again led the running attack with 28 yards on eight carries, but left the game in the third quarter with a shoulder injury according to Stony Brook Assistant Athletic Director for Communications Brian Miller .
Miller said that Bedell was to be reevaluated on Sunday. Although he said that the injury does not appear to be serious, Priore said in the CAA’s weekly press teleconference that Bedell will not play in Saturday’s game against James Madison, but should return for the team’s next game against Towson.
Carbone and senior quarterback Conor Bednarski once again split time at their position in the third game of the season, combining to average just over eight yards per completed pass.
A good sign for Stony Brook came in the performance of some defensive players who are new to starting roles.
Sophomore defensive backs Tyrice Beverette and Darin Peart each had seven total tackles in the game.
Next up for the Seawolves is conference rival James Madison, possibly the Colonial Athletic Association.
The Dukes went into their contest against the Football Bowl Subdivision’s Southern Methodist University Mustangs as the underdogs and walked away with a win.
This will give the No. 8-ranked team in the Football Championship Subdivision confidence ahead of their game against the Seawolves next Saturday.
Last season, Priore and company bounced back from their Homecoming loss against the Tribe to get a crucial CAA win.
Stony Brook will have to get back to its style of play—running the football and controlling the pace of play—to get back in the win column.