Junior running back Donald Liotine Jr. (No. 33, above) carries the ball in a game against Towson on Sept. 23. Liotine’s 74 receiving yards led the Seawolves to victory over the Tribe. ARACELY JIMENEZ/THE STATESMAN

Despite allowing the William and Mary offense to score 18 straight unanswered points late in the game on Saturday, Stony Brook Football (4-1, 3-0 CAA) hung on to a 21-18 lead to seal the team’s fourth straight victory.

Moment that mattered: On third-and-six from the Seawolves’ 17-yard line, with 29 seconds left, Tribe junior right tackle Garrett Best flinched. The William and Mary offense was rushing to spike the ball after running it from the 21-yard line with no timeouts left. Thanks to Best, a flag was thrown and a five-yard, 10-second false-start penalty was assessed. With only eight seconds left on the clock, the game was over, despite the Seawolves gifting the Tribe plenty of chances to mount a comeback in the fourth quarter. In the final 15 minutes of play alone, Stony Brook racked up 87 yards in penalties, including two 15-yard defensive penalties in the last 50 seconds. One of those penalties was ruled targeting on review, earning Stony Brook senior safety Chris Cooper an ejection. Had Best not flinched, the Seawolves could have faced overtime if the Tribe’s sophomore kicker, Kris Hooper, connected on a 34-yard field goal. Hooper was 1-2 on the day.

What the victory means: Stony Brook improves its overall record to 4-1 and to 3-0 against Colonial Athletic Association opponents. Had they won more handily, the Seawolves may have seen enough of a bump in the coaches and media polls to get them ranked in the FCS Top 25. They still might, particularly thanks to the team’s undefeated record in a tough conference, but one penalty was all that stood between the Seawolves and a tie game. The team currently sits at 26th in both polls, according to vote totals.

Standout Seawolf: Junior running back Donald Liotine Jr. had a spectacular day, logging 185 total yards, including a nine-yard touchdown on the ground and a 61-yard bomb from junior quarterback Joe Carbone. His 74 receiving yards led the Seawolves. Liotine also had 69 kick return yards on three attempts.

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Three takeaways:

  • The backfield continued to be the driving force for success for the Seawolves offense. William and Mary’s defense held opponents a conference-best 72 yards per game this season, until Stony Brook tailbacks racked up 200 yards on Saturday. Senior running back Stacey Bedell logged a season-high 104 rushing yards on 21 carries and scored his fifth touchdown of the season. Junior running back Jordan Gowins had 57 yards on eight carries. Liotine Jr. had 42 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.
  • Penalties nearly doomed the Seawolves, who had only been penalized once through the first three quarters. Early in the fourth quarter, two pass interference penalties inside the red zone allowed the Tribe to extend their drive until freshman running back Nate Evans finally punched one in. On that drive alone, the Tribe ran eight plays inside the Stony Brook 20-yard line. Even though Stony Brook was ultimately saved by a penalty, two penalties and an ejection on the final drive brought the Seawolves to the brink. On offense, false starts and a personal foul kept stopping the clock when the Seawolves desperately needed it to keep running.
  • Junior defensive end John Haggart tied his career high with three sacks. He was second on the team with seven tackles. Senior safeties Darin Peart and Travon Reid-Segure each had an interception.

What’s next: Stony Brook returns home to face off against CAA foe Delaware (2-2, 0-1 CAA) on Saturday, Oct. 7 at 6 p.m. The Blue Hens were beat by No.1 ranked James Madison 20-10 in their CAA opener on Saturday.

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