Stony Brook Football overcame a slow start and injuries to several key players to beat Wagner 38-10 in the final home game of the season on Saturday.
Moment that mattered: Senior wide receiver Ray Bolden caught a 12-yard reception at Stony Brook’s 37-yard line midway through the third quarter. Wagner senior linebacker Justin Osuji speared Bolden in a helmet-to-helmet collision that left the Seawolves’ top receiver motionless on the turf. Bolden lay on the ground, surrounded by medical staff for several minutes. The game came to a complete halt with players on both sidelines taking a knee as the stadium grew completely silent. Then, as Bolden was placed on a backboard, both teams moved from the sideline onto the field and formed two separate semicircles around the injured receiver. It took several more minutes, but Bolden was finally placed on the stretcher and taken to an ambulance.
Bolden was unconscious when trainers arrived at his side but responsive by the time he was being taken to the ambulance, head coach Chuck Priore confirmed after the game. Stony Brook Athletic Director Shawn Heilbron added at the post-game press conference that “he’s alert. He’s talking… They’re treating it like a concussion. Should be evaluated and out tonight.” Shortly after, Bolden tweeted out that he was okay.
All good baby! Appreciate the love and support❤️⚡️ chocolate thunda will be back in action my people!
— Ray (@Parfait_13) November 11, 2017
What the win means: Wagner is not a good team (its record is now 3-7) and not a conference opponent, but a win is a win, especially with the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs on the horizon. Priore and his players repeated their mantra of “one day at a time” and “one game at a time,” as they have all season, but the Seawolves are facing their first playoff berth since 2012.
Entering this week, Stony Brook was ranked No. 12 in the STATS FCS poll and No. 15 in the coaches poll. However, No. 7/9 Elon lost to No. 18/16 New Hampshire on Saturday and will take on No. 1 James Madison next week. If Elon loses to James Madison and Stony Brook beats Maine next week, the Seawolves will hold the second-best record in the Colonial Athletic Association. The CAA has been heralded as one of the best conferences in the FCS all season, and a second place finish for Stony Brook could entail a home playoff game in at least the first round on Nov. 25.
Standout Seawolf: Junior running back Jordan Gowins stepped up in a big way after his cousin, senior running back Stacey Bedell, left the game with an injury on the first play from scrimmage. Priore was unsure of Bedell’s status after the game, but he was hardly missed in the box score. Gowins, who usually gets the third-most carries behind his cousin and junior running back Donald Liotine Jr., exploded for 125 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries. His longest carry, a 53-yard rush, came on the first play after Bolden was carried off the field.
- The Bolden hit, which was assessed to be a targeting penalty, was hardly the first act of illicit violence between the two teams on Saturday. The whole game was filled with shoving, late hits and even a punch thrown by Stony Brook redshirt-freshman defensive back Elijah Duff on a particularly chippy kick return. Serving on the Seawolves punt return team, senior fullback Anthony Anderson ran offside and knocked one of the three Wagner upbacks onto his back with an apparent head injury.
- Gowins stepped up to fill the hole Bedell left in the offense, but he was not the only one who played well when his number was called. Sophomore wide receiver Andrew Trent was put in the game after Bolden went down and caught all three passes thrown at him for 31 yards on a drive that ended in a field goal for the Seawolves. Elsewhere in the receiving corps, graduate wide receiver Harrison Jackson and junior wide receiver Donavin Washington each caught a touchdown.
- After earning praise from Priore last week for his blocking against Albany, senior right tackle Jackson Miller struggled to block Wagner sophomore outside linebacker Cameron Gill. Two of Gill’s four sacks came after evading Miller, although all four came in the first half, and junior quarterback Joe Carbone had much better protection in the second half. Gill had only three sacks this season before Saturday.
What’s next: Stony Brook will finish out the regular season with a CAA conference matchup next Saturday at Maine. Stony Brook can clinch second in the CAA with a victory and an Elon loss, giving the team a formidable case to receive a high seed going into the FCS playoff selection show on Nov. 19.