After losing by only three points last year in Harrisonburg to the James Madison Dukes (JMU), the Stony Brook Seawolves looked to topple the No. 2 ranked team in the nation in this year’s showdown.
They almost did just that. A career long 47-yard field goal by redshirt-senior kicker Nick Courtney with five seconds remaining in regulation tied the game at 38, and following a squib kick on the kickoff, the game went to overtime (OT), where the Dukes would come out victorious—45-38.
With the game concluding Homecoming weekend for Stony Brook, a stadium record 12,812 fans packed Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium on a cold Saturday, Oct. 5 night.
A total of 23 points were scored in last year’s game. By the time the first quarter ended this time, the two teams had a combined 28 points, with the score tied at 14.
Both teams are known for their offensive rushing abilities, and by the end of the night, one of the teams had the clear upper hand in the rushing yards column. Coming into the game, Stony Brook’s opponents had an average of 88.8 yards per game. The Dukes had run for more than that by the time the first quarter ended. By the end of the night three JMU running backs and the quarterback had combined for 329 rushing yards, the most allowed by Stony Brook all season.
Stony Brook redshirt-freshman running back Ty Son Lawton kept the Seawolves in the game throughout the first quarter via 34-yards on the ground and two rushing touchdowns.
“Sure it was a pretty exciting football game for the fans, really proud of our kids. We got behind several times,” Stony Brook head coach Chuck Priore said in a post game press conference. “You’re not going to win every game and you can’t be defined by the scoreboard. I think this team is defined by their effort on the field today in a number of situations.”
The scoring continued for both teams in the second quarter, including a 19-yard touchdown pass from redshirt-junior quarterback Tyquell Fields to graduate transfer wide receiver Jean Constant to tie the game at 21 with 9:19 left in the second quarter.
By the time halftime came, with the Dukes leading 28-21, both teams needed the break to adapt to the high-scoring affair.
The third quarter was a relatively quiet one offensively for both teams, with JMU scoring a field goal and Stony Brook scoring on a 26-yard pass from Fields to redshirt-senior wide receiver Nick Anderson. At the end of three, the Dukes led 31-28.
Following a JMU touchdown five seconds into the fourth quarter, to bring them up by 10, Stony Brook was forced to punt the ball only to get it back a minute later following a defensive fumble recovery. Holding onto the ball was an issue both teams struggled with throughout the game, combining for seven fumbles — including five by JMU — three of which Stony Brook recovered.
The Dukes turnover allowed Lawton to score his third rushing touchdown of the night on the ensuing drive, with 7:20 left in the game leaving the Seawolves down by only three. Lawton’s three rushing touchdowns are the most by a Stony Brook player in a game since former running back Stacey Bedell scored four against Richmond in 2016.
The Dukes proceeded to run their longest drive timewise of the night, burning five minutes and 36 seconds off the clock. Stony Brook was forced to burn all of their timeouts on the drive, which ended with the Dukes punting. The punt went into the endzone for a touchback, allowing the Seawolves to start their drive from their own 25 yard line with 1:44 left in the game. 11 plays, four incomplete passes and 51 yards later, Courtney kicked the 47-yard field goal which sent the game to OT.
“I think we have a lot of clutch factors on the team. I think we always put an emphasis on finishing games and execution. That showed tonight,” Fields said in a postgame press conference.
A touchdown run by JMU redshirt-junior running back Jawon Hamilton put the Dukes up 45-38 in OT, with the Seawolves still having a chance to tie the game on the following possession.
On the following drive, it was a sack and three incompletions that forced the other shoe to drop and the game was over.
Offensively the Seawolves had some highs, Lawton’s three touchdowns, and some big lows, Fields being sacked five times throughout the game. Fields ended the night throwing for a career high 318-yards while completing 15 of 30 passes, with two of the competitions being caught for touchdowns, bringing his season total up to eight touchdowns thrown.
The Seawolves again went to battle with numerous players unavailable due to injury: redshirt-junior offensive lineman Ian McLean did not dress with an unspecified injury, captain and senior defensive lineman Sam Kamara missed the game with a shoulder injury, while junior wide receiver Brandon Benson missed his third straight game with an ankle injury and redshirt-junior defensive back EJ Fineran missed his fifth straight game with a hand injury. Redshirt-senior wide receiver Andrew Trent and redshirt-freshman tight end Isaiah Givens both missed the game with unspecified injuries.
The loss snapped Stony Brook’s 12 game home win streak and drops them to 4-2 overall and 1-1 in Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) play. The Seawolves will stay on the Island as they attempt to get back in the win column with a home game next week, Saturday, Oct. 12, against CAA foe, the New Hampshire Wildcats. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.