Every week, our Sports staff will take a deeper look at Stony Brook’s football games and what the team did well and where it went wrong.
First down: Defensive line smothers
Stony Brook’s pass rush suffocated Howard on Saturday, recording 12 sacks, the most of any NCAA Division I team this season. Leading the effort were sophomore defensive lineman Ousmane Camara and senior defensive lineman Victor Ochi, with three apiece. Ochi now has 29 sacks over his career, tying a Seawolves all-time record.
“He’s got an NFL career ahead of him potentially and he could have said, ‘you know what I want to stay healthy, I don’t want to practice,’” Stony Brook head coach Chuck Priore said after the game. “He’s been exactly the opposite, and same thing on the field. I think that takes a lot of character, I’m happy for him.”
The entire defense’s effort led to Howard finishing with just -42 net rushing yards on the contest, to Priore’s slight surprise.
“Honestly we thought the best part of their team was their offensive line,” Priore said. “I’m just really happy for Stony Brook in general and then the kids. A long five weeks, but for the kids it’s awesome. They can enjoy it now and that’s the most important thing.”
Second down: Donald Liotine steps up amid injuries
With junior running back Stacey Bedell and freshman backup Isaiah White both out with injuries, Priore had to entrust sophomore Donald Liotine and junior Tyler Fredericks with his running game. However, Fredericks suffered a pre-game injury that put the weight on Liotine.
With just 59 carries on the season coming into Saturday, Liotine rushed for 204 yards and two touchdowns on 38 attempts. All three categories were career-highs for Liotine, who did not play last season. In the game’s closing minutes, Liotine broke free on third-and-7 in Stony Brook territory for a 45-yard carry to secure the win.
“We just kind of went with the game plan of putting it up the middle and running hard,” Liotine said of how Stony Brook planned to run the ball right at the heart of Howard’s defense. “It was my gameplan, [it] worked out.”
Third down: Seawolves continue converting on fourth down
With only six attempted field goals all season, Stony Brook has become comfortable going for it on fourth down. Its successes in recent games reflect the season at large.
The Seawolves converted on two of three 4th down attempts against Howard, one of which resulted in a touchdown. Against Elon last week, Stony Brook was 4-for-7 on fourth downs and the week before went 1-1 against Towson. On the season, the Seawolves are converting on 67.9 percent of their 4th downs.
These big plays are crucial for a Stony Brook team that struggles to get down the field on a consistent basis.
Fourth down: Bednarski returns to spark offense
Senior quarterback Conor Bednarski sat in favor of Carbone against Elon last week and was on the bench to begin Saturday’s game, but not for long. Carbone threw a first-quarter interception against Howard, his fifth in two games. On the ensuing drive it was Bednarski taking the snaps, and he jumpstarted Stony Brook’s offense.
“I didn’t want Joe to go back on the field after that interception and have that in his mind,” Priore said. “Conor went out there and executed.”
Bednarski finished with 95 yards in the air, completing seven of 14 passes and six of his last nine throws in three quarters of action. Bednarski’s completions made up six of Stony Brook’s 17 first downs. His play also helped open up Liotine’s rushing attack.
Extra point: Moving forward
Stony Brook Football will try to close out its season on a positive note with only two games to go for the season.
The Seawolves play conference foe Rhode Island on the road on Saturday, Nov. 14 at 12:30 p.m. before returning home to face Albany in the year’s final game.