Fifty-one weeks ago, Stony Brook Football hosted Sacred Heart University at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium and lost 38-10. On Saturday, the Seawolves flipped the script and dominated the Pioneers in nearly every aspect of their 45-7 victory.
“To sit here and say ‘Oh, it doesn’t feel any better’ because it’s them out there is a lie,” fifth-year wide receiver Ray Bolden said. “Before the game I seen guys come in here smiling at me, winking, things like that. So definitely put me on a little edge.”
The edge was evident throughout the game for Stony Brook. The offense ran for 294 yards, junior quarterback Joe Carbone threw a career-high three touchdowns and the punt return team scored a touchdown on a blocked punt for the second time this season.
“I don’t want to call it a vengeance game, but we definitely came out ready to play tonight,” Carbone said. “We remembered what happened last year. Tonight we had a better handle.”
Up by a touchdown at the midway point of the first quarter, redshirt freshman linebacker EJ Fineran made his way into the backfield and blocked Sacred Heart’s junior punter Ryan O’Dowd’s punt attempt from the 12-yard line. The ball ricocheted into the Pioneers’ end zone, sending both teams scrambling. At the bottom of the scrum, freshman wide receiver Seba Nekhet secured the ball and the Seawolves’ second touchdown of the game. The special teams unit also recovered a blocked punt for a touchdown in week one against the University of South Florida.
The momentum built from there. At halftime, Stony Brook led 35-7, the team’s biggest halftime lead since they led Pace University 49-0 on Sept. 8, 2012. Last year, the score was 14-14 at the half and Sacred Heart went on to score four straight, unanswered second-half touchdowns.
“We had 19 seniors that got stung a little bit,  days ago,” head coach Chuck Priore said. “Their leadership is tremendous. And that’s what it takes to win. What’s positive right now, it’s all three units together.”
All three units – offense, defense, and special teams – outperformed their Sacred Heart counterparts throughout the game. Seawolves’ senior defensive backs Darin Peart and Travon Reid-Segure each intercepted Pioneers senior quarterback Kevin Duke. Sacred Heart’s lone touchdown came in the first quarter, on a one yard rush from fifth-year running back Ose Imeokparia.
Meanwhile, three Stony Brook running backs had 65 rushing yards or more. Senior running back Stacey Bedell opened a second quarter drive with a 52-yard sprint for the end zone. Junior running back Jordan Gowins ran for 78 yards and scored the Seawolves’ final touchdown of the game, bucking defenders off of him on a ten-yard trudge for the end zone.
Carbone had a career day for the second week in a row. Last week at Rhode Island, Carbone threw for more passing yards than he has ever thrown in a single game. This week, his career-high three touchdowns increased his season total to five in three games. Entering the season, Carbone completed only five touchdown passes in 19 games.
“He’s playing with a very great and high level of confidence,” Priore said. “He’s got players around him making plays. It’s good. Throwing the touchdown passes and being efficient, allows us to convert things on third down.”
Carbone was very efficient on Saturday, throwing only 99 yards on 9-14 passing. He connected with Bolden four times for 43 yards and a touchdown. Junior wide receiver Donavin Washington had three catches for 29 yards and a touchdown. Junior tight end Cal Daniels caught one pass for a nine-yard touchdown.
As well as Stony Brook played, injuries on the offensive line clouded the otherwise impeccable Seawolves performance. Senior left guard Armani Garrick collapsed to the turf early in the second quarter with an apparent knee injury and did not return to the game. Garrick and senior left tackle Timon Parris, who limped off the field late in the third quarter, started 35 consecutive games entering Saturday.
Sophomore offensive lineman Joe Detorie also left the game with an apparent knee injury and was replaced by redshirt-freshman Anthony Catapano. Sophomore right guard Mason Zimmerman switched over to left guard for Garrick and redshirt-freshman offensive lineman Ian McLean filled in on the right side. Senior Chris Infantino replaced Parris as left tackle.
Stony Brook’s offense has long relied on a strong run game and appears to now be trying to incorporate more passing as Carbone matures as field general. Neither will be successful in their implementation without a strong offensive line. If any of the three who departed with injuries miss games, the depth of the Seawolves bench will determine the future of the offense.
Next Saturday, Stony Brook hosts Colonial Athletic Association rival Towson at LaValle Stadium. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. against the Tigers, who lost to the Seawolves 27-10 last season in Maryland.