Stony Brook Football evaded a late surge from Albany to win 28-21 in overtime Saturday at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium. The victory improved the Seawolves’ record to 7-2 as they recaptured The Golden Apple Trophy in the fifth annual “Empire Clash” between the two instate and conference rivals.
Moment that mattered: After shutting the Seawolves out in the second half, the Great Danes opted to defend first after winning the overtime coin toss. The Stony Brook offense was shut out in the first half and entered overtime without top receiver, senior Ray Bolden, who was injured on the final drive of regulation. Albany’s decision quickly proved to be a mistake, because junior quarterback Joe Carbone needed just two plays to reach the endzone.
Starting at the 25-yard line, Carbone completed one pass to graduate wide receiver Harrison Jackson for a 12-yard gain on the right-hand sideline. Six-foot-2-inch, 210-pound Jackson was in single coverage with Albany’s 5-foot-9-inch, 175-pound senior corner Jamal Robinson. Seeing the mismatch, Carbone lobbed a pass to Jackson in the next play for a 13-yard touchdown. The touchdown allowed the defense to come on the field and hold the lead, despite Albany running nine plays inside the 25-yard line.
What the win means: The close victory over a weak conference opponent will not earn the Seawolves any new fans in the Football Championship Subdivision postseason discussion. Still, six conference victories in the Colonial Athletic Association conference is impressive, and it gives Stony Brook a feel-good win in its second-to-last home game of the season. The players were all smiles after the game, particularly after storming the field and hoisting The Golden Apple above their heads.
Standout Seawolf: Jackson had a single catch for six yards in four quarters on Saturday. It took an injury to favored target Bolden and an overtime possession, but Jackson stepped up when it counted. His two overtime catches for a cumulative 25 total yards and a touchdown came largely as a result of poor defensive match-ups by Albany coaching, but Jackson still had to make the plays. And both times, he did.
- The Seawolves’ offense struggled significantly, recording three fumbles and failing to score in the second half. The ground game scratched out just 79 yards. However, Carbone showed poise, putting the Seawolves in field goal position with seconds to go in the fourth quarter, and then completing two passes in overtime to put Stony Brook ahead for good. Even on an off day, Carbone threw for 218 yards and two touchdowns on 21-29 passing.
- The Seawolves defense put in a strong effort throughout the close contest. Sophomore cornerback Gavin Heslop had six tackles and two pass breakups in key moments, despite leaving the game at one point with an injured wrist. Junior linebacker Shayne Lawless sacked Albany redshirt-sophomore quarterback Will Brunson twice, including on the Great Dane’s game-tying drive in the fourth quarter. Lawless also forced a fumble in the first quarter that was recovered by Seawolves senior safety Travon Reid-Segure at the Albany nine-yard line. Two plays later, senior running back Stacey Bedell found the endzone for Stony Brook’s second touchdown of the game.
- Special teams have been a huge advantage for Stony Brook all season. It is something head coach Chuck Priore consistently mentions as a key to the Seawolves’ success. On the opening kickoff, Stony Brook proved this to be true, forcing a fumble and recovering at the Albany 16-yard line. Redshirt-freshman defensive back Augie Contressa knocked the ball loose from Great Danes sophomore returner Donovan McDonald and freshman defensive back Justin Burns recovered the fumble, putting the Seawolves in position to score early. Four plays later, junior running back Donald Liotine Jr. rammed through Albany defenders to score a six-yard touchdown.
What’s next: Stony Brook will host non-conference opponent Wagner at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 11 in the Seawolves’ final home game of the season. The 3-6 Seahawks are members of the Northeast conference.