With his team held scoreless for the first three quarters, junior wide receiver and special teams anchor Sherman Alston Jr. returned an early fourth quarter punt down to Rhode Island’s 36-yard line, igniting an otherwise stagnant offense.
After sophomore running back Jordan Gowins ran the ball inside of the red zone, redshirt junior running back Stacey Bedell would break Stony Brook’s scoring drought with a goal line punch-in, establishing a late 7-3 lead.
“We know that [Alston] is a dangerous returner that can make a play at any given time,” Bedell said. “That was the biggest spark for our team. It helped us get the flow going, the crowd going and everybody started getting up.”
Surviving early offensive woes, Stony Brook Football improved to 3-0 in conference play with a 14-3 Homecoming day win over Rhode Island Saturday at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium.
“Last two years I’ve been here, we’ve lost on Homecoming and it gives you a bitter feeling,” said junior defensive back Tyrice Beverette. “Everybody is depending on you to have a good time and a good night. [The crowd] wakes you up. You have more energy going into the game.”
Rhode Island struck first with a first-quarter field goal that accounted for all first-half scoring.
Even after resorting to a predictable, one-dimensional running offense — redshirt sophomore Joe Carbone attempted a mere 16 passes — the Seawolves found success on the ground. Both Bedell and Gowins eclipsed 100 yards on the night: 138 yards and 108 yards, respectively.
But with the Seawolves stunted by a pair of blocked field goals, a red zone fumble and a caravan of untimely penalties, this success did not translate into points; despite notching more than double the amount of offensive yards than Rhode Island, Stony Brook went scoreless for the first three quarters.
“Way too many penalties and inefficient plays on the offensive side, but at halftime I told them we’re going to find a way to win. I don’t care if it’s 4-3,” head coach Chuck Priore said. “We’re gonna keep the ball tight and give the ball to out two horses in the backfield.”
Late in the second quarter, senior kicker Przemyslaw Popek had a chance to tie the game with a 39-yard field goal attempt. The kick was tipped, ultimately falling well short of the uprights.
Lightning does indeed strike twice, as a quarter later, Rhode Island blocked and recovered a 38-yard attempt from Popek.
Halting a drive that began near midfield in which the Seawolves seemed to have found their rhythm, Bedell fumbled at the Rams’ 14–yard line as the first half came to a close. Rhode Island would recover the ball.
Eight third quarter penalties plagued the Seawolves, setting them back a total of 62 yards and curbing any offensive momentum.
But in lock step with the rest of the season, Stony Brook’s defense kept its team in the game, allowing the offense time to flip the switch by disallowing any points beyond Rhode Island’s first-quarter field goal.
“Our defense was playing great all game,” Bedell said. “We just play relaxed. We didn’t feel pressed. We just played our game plan.
Junior defensive back Tyrice Beverette recorded a team-high 11 tackles, including a sack that pinned Rhode Island redshirt freshman quarterback Jordan Vazzano nine yards behind the line of scrimmage.
“We wanna overcome adversity,” Beverette said. “Everybody’s happy when they’re up. You see who the best defense is when they’re down and their backs against the wall.”
After Bedell’s touchdown, which put his team ahead 7-3, Gowins would soon find the endzone himself, establishing a 14-3 lead that would last for the remainder of the game.
“One thing about good football teams — I think we’re a good football team, I didn’t say we’re a great football team — is they know how to win throughout four quarters,” Priore said.
The Seawolves look to continue conference success against the Delaware Blue Hens this Saturday at 1 p.m. at Delaware Stadium.