The Stony Brook Football team could not get anything going in its first four drives against No. 5 James Madison on Saturday, and that was all the Dukes needed to set the tone and take down the Seawolves, 38-20.
Just like Stony Brook did on its first drive, James Madison failed to do much offensively on its first posession after an offensive holding penalty set them back. Unlike the Seawolves, the Dukes went on an offensive tear after that. Each of James Madison’s next three drives in the first quarter concluded with a celebration in the end zone, as the Dukes pulled ahead of the Seawolves by three touchdowns.
Stony Brook could not get its running game going, especially without star junior running back Stacey Bedell in the lineup. On the other hand, James Madison had its ground attack on full display early and often. Dukes junior running back Khalid Abdullah had a tremendous first quarter, rushing for 90 yards on just five attempts. That included a 69-yard-run, which helped put the Seawolves in a hole.
Although Stony Brook was down 21-0 with 35 seconds left in the quarter, the team did not give up. Senior quarterback Conor Bednarski found redshirt freshman tight end Cal Daniels open down the field for a 70-yard-gain before getting tackled at James Madison’s 18-yard-line. Bednarski then put Stony Brook on the board, finding junior wide receiver Steve Marino for a touchdown, the first of his career.
But James Madison quickly responded with a touchdown of its own to start off the second quarter. While the Seawolves failed to put points on the scoreboard to challenge their opponents, the Dukes scored a touchdown and a field goal in the third quarter to surge ahead, 38-7.
Stony Brook looked for a comeback, or at least something that would spark one.
Marino looked like he caught his second touchdown pass of the game in the fourth quarter, but the play was reviewed and reversed. Instead, redshirt freshman quarterback Joe Carbone ran for a touchdown. That gave the Seawolves offense some energy and looked as if it might shift the momentum of the game.
Stony Brook kept the ball on the ground and let the trio of Carbone, sophomore running back Donald Liotine and freshman running back Isaiah White run the football. Their work led to Carbone scoring his second rushing touchdown and could have put Stony Brook within two possessions if he had not failed the two-point conversion. He had to settle with cutting the Dukes’ lead to 38-20.
As the offense gained steam late in the game, so did the defense. In the first half, the Seawolves’ usually tough defense could barely keep up with the Dukes’ high-tempo offense. But they began to slow James Madison down in the third quarter, once the team went ahead by 31.
Stony Brook’s defensive line put a lot of pressure on James Madison’s usually calm redshirt junior quarterback Vad Lee. Lee, who kept his composure in the first half, could not maintain his presence as Ryan Sloan, Stony Brook’s graduate defensive lineman, hurried into the pocket.
Even back in the second quarter, Lee was under constant pressure at times.
Although they lost, the Seawolves held James Madison to its lowest scoring total of the season. The Dukes’ high-powered offense averaged 47.8 points per game this season coming into the contest.
Up next for the Seawolves is the Homecoming game against Colonial Athletic Association rival Towson on Oct. 17 at 6 p.m.
After losing to division rival William & Mary in last year’s Homecoming game, Stony Brook is looking to bring home a win for its crowd in Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium.
Correction: Oct. 6, 2015
The print version of the article misspelled the name of Stony Brook’s junior running back, Stacey Bedell.