Late in the first quarter, redshirt junior running back Stacey Bedell cut towards the sideline, sidestepped two Richmond defenders and trotted in for a 49 yard go-ahead Stony Brook touchdown. Less than 15 minutes into the game, the Seawolves accumulated more running yards than they had in the previous two games combined.
Rectifying recent woes, Stony Brook’s offense had a breakout performance that paved the road to a 42-14 upset rout over No. 2 Richmond, the program’s first ever win against a top-five ranked opponent.
With his team washed 38-0 on a mere 133 total yards last week against Temple, head coach Chuck Priore chose not to harp on the poor performance. In order to refocus his team, he behaved as if the blowout had never occurred. Instead, Priore opted to hype up the Richmond game, telling his players the magnitude was that of a playoff game.
“I rolled the dice to be honest with you,” Priore said of his message. “I asked the staff for their approval, and I said ‘Do you think I f—– this up if we lose?’ ”
His team responded, and Stony Brook’s offense was completely revitalized.
“The thing that we lacked last week was energy,” redshirt sophomore quarterback Joe Carbone said. “We came out flat and expected to be hanging around because of our defense, but we can’t play like that.”
Bedell crossed the goal line four times and led all rushers with 104 yards on 17 carries.
“I felt that sometimes we feel rushed, but this game we were patient,” Bedell said. “I felt that everybody was doing their job up front.”
Carbone settled into a much more comfortable role as a cog in the offensive machine. With the running game firing, the pressure to incite offense on his own was alleviated and he completed an economic 11 of 15 passes, throwing for one touchdown and one interception.
“If you’re in second and long and third and long, you’re not going to be a good quarterback. And that was last week and the week before,” Priore said. “We were able to be selective with what we do and not put [Carbone] on an island.”
The Seawolves showed two major improvements: third-down aptitude and big-play prowess.
Converting just 21 percent of third downs coming into the contest, Stony Brook moved the chains on nine of 12 third down attempts.
“Third down conversions were big,” Carbone said. “It’s important to sustain drives and give our defense a break.”
The offense also entered the game with one play over 35 yards on the year. They would leave the afternoon with three more and their second win over a ranked opponent this season.
After the Spiders marched into Stony Brook territory following a 44 yard pass, redshirt junior quarterback Kyle Lauletta found redshirt sophomore tight end Stephen Jacobs in the flats for the game’s first points.
But on the ensuing drive, Stony Brook flexed big-play potential of their own. Junior wide receiver Sherman Alston Jr. picked up 38 yards on an end-around run that brought the Seawolves inside the Spider’s 15-yard line. Bedell would need just two carries to record the Seawolves’ first running touchdown of the year.
The former 1,000 yard rusher soon ripped off his go-ahead 49 yard touchdown run, Bedell’s second of the day.
Looking to get in on the scoring feast, Carbone connected with a streaking junior wide receiver Ray Bolden for a 47 yard touchdown, establishing a 21-7 Stony Brook lead.
The half would come to a close after Richmond cut the lead to within seven via a six yard run. Stony Brook headed into the locker room with a 21-14 lead.
“It feels like the Spiders should be down more than they are,” remarked a Richmond radio announcer as the two teams set to kickoff the second half.
With uncanny timing, Alston Jr. ran end-to-end for a 96 yard kickoff return down the sideline to break open the third quarter.
“And now they are,” he added.
“I didn’t do anything,” Alston Jr., who split two tacklers on the run, said. “I just did what I was told to do. That was just run fast.”
With Richmond’s explosive offensive ability looming, Lauletta’s in particular, the game was far from out of reach.
“We knew we’d have to defend the run because that kid [Lauletta] can throw the ball,” Priore said. “But once again, we put them in a lot of situations that weren’t favorable and we hit him a lot.”
While the defense contained Richmond’s offense with a heavy blitz and a deep secondary, Stony Brook tacked onto its lead after redshirt sophomore tight end Cal Daniels snagged a highlight reel diving one-handed catch on top of the pylon. After the ball was marked at the one, Bedell punched in the score for his third touchdown of the afternoon.
Timely interceptions from junior defensive backs Travon Reid-Segure, who nabbed a deflected pass, and Tyrice Beverette, who caught an ill-advised red zone throw from a pressured Lauletta, stifled any Richmond offensive progress. The Spiders went scoreless throughout the second half as Stony Brook’s defense continues to solidify itself as a top-tier FCS unit.
“If both the offense and defense are going, we can go out and do amazing things,” Beverette said. “We told each other that we are not the underdog this week. These guys got to come in and play us.”
Bolden led all receivers with four receptions and 85 yards, while senior defensive back Jaheem Woods tallied a team-leading nine tackles.
Stony Brook wraps up its homestand on Sept. 26, when the Seawolves host the Sacred Heart Pioneers at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium in a non-conference matchup. Sacred Heart is currently first in the Northeast Conference.