After a pair of losses at home and coming off the bye-week, the Stony Brook football team looked to take down a top-five nationally ranked team. The final, 36-35, does not truly reflect what occurred during the game. It was a tale of two very different halves.
The Seawolves traveled to Villanova Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 26 to take on the Villanova Wildcats, in search of a much needed victory. A statement win to jump start the second half of their season. They did just that. A 22-yard field goal by redshirt-senior Nick Courtney sealed the 36-35 victory for the Seawolves (5-3, 2-2), a moment he will not soon forget.
“I ran out there, I knew it was going through. I was so confident, I was so proud of everybody for not giving up,” Courtney said in a video released by the team. “When I got down there I was so confident. Right off my foot I knew that was going through. It’s such an incredible feeling man, I’m so happy.”
Throughout the first half, the Wildcats played like a top-five ranked team. By the time the game went to halftime, Stony Brook found themselves down 28-10. They had allowed the Wildcats to rush for 108 yards, and pass for another 251 yards. The Seawolves looked out-matched and flat out sloppy. They desperately needed a break.
Villanova converted five of their seven third down attempts, more than one of which required the Wildcats to get at least seven yards.
As the defense struggled to contain the Wildcats, the offense did not fare much better.
The Seawolves reeled off a few plays of 15-plus yards, including a 15-yard touchdown run by redshirt-junior quarterback Tyquell Fields to put them up 7-0 with 10:15 to go in the first. A 27-yard field goal by Courtney in the second gave the Seawolves their other three points.
An ill-advised throw by Fields with less than 15 seconds remaining in the second quarter led to an interception on a drive the Seawolves desperately needed points on.
Having won the coin toss at the start of the game and deferring, the Wildcats were set to receive the ball to open the second half. On the ensuing kickoff, Villanova junior wide receiver Josh McGrigg fumbled the ball, which Stony Brook recovered. Initially, the play was ruled down by contact only to be reversed, and the Seawolves gained possession of the ball on the Wildcats 24-yard line.
Stony Brook was forced to settle for a 26-yard field goal by Courtney, his second on the day, missing an opportunity to cut away at the large Villanova lead, which was now 28-13 with 13:39 remaining in the third.
The third quarter was an all out defensive battle, evident by Stony Brook settling for a field goal after starting in excellent field position. Both teams combined for only 148 yards throughout the quarter.
On the ensuing Villanova drive, redshirt-freshman defensive back Gregory Young II picked off junior quarterback Daniel Smith, and returned the ball to the Wildcat 34-yard line. After four plays and 24 yards, redshirt-freshman running back Ty Son Lawton scored on a 10-yard run to cut the Wildcats lead to 28-20 with 9:48 remaining.
Stony Brook defense forced Villanova to try a 44-yard field goal on the following drive, only for it to go wide right.
A couple of drives later, the Wildcats muffed their second punt of the night, only for the refs to, once again, rule in their favor. On the same drive, failed attempts on third and fourth down to get five yards and gain a first led to a turnover on downs and the Seawolves starting with the ball on their own 33-yard line.
At the end of the third, Villanova led 28-20, with the Seawolves keeping the Wildcats off the board and going on their own 10-0 run.
After flirting with Lady Luck throughout the third quarter, it appeared she had left the Seawolves behind after another muffed punt by Villanova went out of the endzone only for the refs to call it a touchback. The Wildcats proceeded to brush off their special teams miscues and went up by 15 with 9:14 remaining, after a two-yard rushing touchdown by freshman running back DeeWil Barlee.
Facing a fourth and nine on the Villanova 32-yard line, the Seawolves went for the conversion. A few plays later, Fields found freshman wide receiver Shawn Harris Jr. for a 10-yard touchdown pass. It was Harris’s first collegiate touchdown and Fields’s tenth TD pass of the season.
With Lady Luck back on the Seawolves’s side, they were able to quickly force a Wildcats punt from their own 31-yard line, which redshirt-sophomore running back Seba Nekhet fair caught on the Stony Brook 25-yard line.
Down eight, 2:42 left in the game and the ball on their own 25 with two timeouts remaining, the Seawolves had plenty of time to drive down the field and tie the game. And that’s what they did. Almost.
After a 47-yard run by Lawton, the Seawolves hurried to the line and Lawton proceeded to rip off a three-yard run for a touchdown. After review, Lawton was ruled down six inches from the line, and on the following plays, Fields ran it in for his second rushing touchdown of the day. 35-33 Villanova with 1:32 remaining. Stony Brook would be forced to attempt a two-point conversion. Fields threw a pass directly at the chest of a cutting redshirt-senior wide receiver Andrew Trent, only for the ball to go between his hands and chest, and fall to the ground incomplete.
Following a failed onside kick attempt by the Seawolves, the Wildcats started the drive with the ball on their own 45-yard line. Following sacks by redshirt-junior linebacker Elijah Duff and redshirt-sophomore defensive back Jabari Reddock and Villanova facing a long third and 32, Stony Brook called a timeout with 1:15 remaining. After a two-yard run by Barlee, the Wildcats let the game clock trickle down to 0:28 remaining before calling a timeout of their own.
On the punt, Nekhet stood in the backfield to catch the punt, in place of the mysteriously absent graduate transfer wide receiver Jean Constant. Fields then reeled off a 19-yard pass to Trent, followed by spiking the ball, and then a signature deep pass to redshirt-senior wide receiver Nick Anderson for 40-yards and then another ball spike with 0:04 remaining.
“At the end of the day, we fought to the last second,” head coach Chuck Priore said in a video released by Stony Brook Athletics.
Courtney proceeded to hit the 22-yard field goal, for his third made field goal of the game, while setting a career high in made field goals in a game. Aside from Courtney, Fields also set two career highs during the game, passing for a career high 320 yards after completing a career high 21 of 37 passes, including a touchdown and an interception.
Following the upset victory, the Seawolves will head to Richmond, Virginia to face the Richmond University Spiders next Saturday, Nov. 2. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m.