Coming off its bye week, Stony Brook Football knew it had a tough challenge ahead against the No.12-ranked Delaware Blue Hens on Saturday, Nov. 10. The Blue Hens entered the contest on a five-game winning streak against other Colonial Athletic Association rivals and looked to defeat the Seawolves for the second consecutive season. The Seawolves made sure that didn’t happen and defeated the Blue Hens 17-3 at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium.
“We had two weeks with the bitter taste in our mouth off the loss at [James Madison],” head coach Chuck Priore said. “I think the kids handled the last two weeks correctly and our coaches have done a phenomenal job at preparing us for this game. They had fun out there because at the end of the day they didn’t allow anything to bother them, they had fun.”
Both teams battled strong winds throughout the game, exceeding 20 miles per hour in the second half. Stony Brook struggled during kickoffs, kicking the ball out of bounds twice. The Blue Hens, meanwhile, faced trouble with their field goal attempts and did not connect on one until the fourth quarter. Neither team got on the board until senior kicker Alex Lucansky converted a field goal form 26 yards to give Stony Brook a 3-0 lead right before the end of the first half.
The mishaps led to both offenses playing more aggressively and taking fourth down risks. Both teams combined to go 1-for-7 on fourth down, but the one conversion led to seven points for the Seawolves. Up by three with 9:48 remaining in the third quarter, senior quarterback Joe Carbone found senior wide receiver Donavin Washington on a slant route for a 27-yard touchdown to give the Seawolves a 10-0 lead.
“I was so excited when I got to throw it on fourth down,” Carbone said. “It was really windy and their kicker missed those two field goals so we knew it was going to be tough to kick a field goal. They were in Cover 4 and Donavin ran a great route and the offensive line did a great job blocking.”
Carbone was adamant in overcoming the tough weather conditions and did not let a first drive interception deter him. He finished 16-for-23 for 178 yards and completed a season high 70 percent of his passes. While Carbone’s coaches and teammates praised him as a big reason for the victory, the senior noted the strong team effort from the Seawolves.
“I think we just got back to doing to what we do best, trying to run the ball and trying to execute at high level,” Carbone said. “We were able to stick together and know that it’s all a part of the process.”
Delaware found itself inside the redzone on four of its drives, but the Stony Brook defense prevented them from scoring on all four. The Blue Hens’ lone successful redzone trip ended with a field goal by senior kicker Frank Rago to make the score 10-3 with 11:44 remaining in the third.
“We like it like that,” senior linebacker Noah McGinty said. “We like it when our backs are against the wall, that’s kind of like our niche. We were just looking at each other like ‘Okay we know what we are going to do here and we are going to do the basics and get after it.’”
Stony Brook responded in the fourth quarter after graduate defensive back CeQuan Jefferson picked off Delaware quarterback Pat Kehoe at their 41-yard line. The Seawolves handed the ball off to senior running back Donald Liotine, who blasted through the Blue Hens defense for a 33-yard touchdown to put the game out of reach at 17-3.
The Long Island Express tandem of senior running backs Liotine and Jordan Gowins combined for 259 of the Seawolves’ 400 total yards, 63 more than Delaware had as a team for the game.
The victory improved Stony Brook’s regular season home record to 5-0. This is the best home record the Seawolves have had since 2012 when the team went 7-0 at home in its final season in the Big South.
“[Director of Athletics Shawn Heilbron] and I have talked a lot,” Priore said. “This has to be a special place for Stony Brook Athletics. Football is the sport where you get the most crowds and one way we are going to get the crowds better is to win.”
Stony Brook will look to clinch a playoff spot on the road against a debilitated Albany squad. The Great Danes are 2-8 and have lost all seven of their CAA games this season. The two will face off in the “Battle for the Golden Apple” on Saturday, Nov. 17 at 3 p.m. at Bob Ford Field.