A strong first half gave the Stony Brook football team excitement going up against one of the most difficult opponent the program has ever faced.
The Seawolves were down by just a field goal at the end of the first quarter and trailed by only 10 at halftime to the No. 4 FBS-ranked Oregon Ducks, the two-time defending Pac-12 champions, making many across the country nervous at the close score.
When all was said and done, though, Oregon took control in the second half to pull away 48-7 on Saturday, Sept. 18 at Autzen Stadium in Eugene. The Seawolves were blanked after the break while the Ducks put up 31 points — nearly double their first-half output — to run up the score on their opponent.
“We probably made some mistakes,” head coach Chuck Priore said about the second half in a postgame press conference. “We probably wore down a bit personnel-wise. There were a few penalties there that happened … We’ve got to capture the things that we did well, and we got to move forward from this game. We got to leave the Oregon game in Oregon.”
The game was delayed over half an hour due to lightning strikes in the area, but by the time the opening kickoff occurred, the rain in the forecast gave way to bright sun.
Stony Brook got on the board to close the first quarter, with a five-yard touchdown run by redshirt junior running back Ty Son Lawton capping off an 11-play, 75-yard drive that got the Seawolves to within 10-7. The drive was crucially extended when Stony Brook went for it on fourth-and-5, resulting in graduate quarterback Tyquell Fields finding Lawton under pressure for a 14-yard reception and the first.
“It is dead silent here at Autzen Stadium,” Pac-12 Network play-by-play commentator Guy Haberman remarked on the broadcast after Lawton’s touchdown.
Lawton credited the offensive line for the success of that drive, with run-pass option play calls guiding the ground game on the possession.
“The play was designed to go inside, [but] I didn’t see [anything] inside,” Lawton said about his touchdown run. “So I decided to try and see what the outside was looking like. When I went outside, it was just green grass.”
Right before the half, redshirt senior defensive back Jabari Reddock and redshirt freshman linebacker Tyler King sacked Ducks senior quarterback Anthony Brown on back-to-back plays to halt an Oregon drive that was approaching Seawolves territory and keep the score at 17-7.
“We prepared for this week just like any other game,” King said in a postgame press conference. “We didn’t look at the rankings or FBS-FCS … [my sack] was great, but that’s just everyone doing their job and I happened to be the person to make the play.”
The score could have been even closer had it not been for a pair of Fields interceptions. He was picked off by Oregon sophomore safety Verone McKinley III on the third play of the opening drive, but the Seawolves defense held strong and forced the Ducks to kick a field goal. On a second quarter drive that had reached the Oregon red zone, Fields faced pressure and heaved the ball to the middle of the field only for the ball to fall in McKinley’s arms again.
The second turnover overshadowed a 49-yard deep ball Fields had completed to redshirt sophomore wide receiver Shawn Harris Jr. on third down that put Stony Brook in Oregon territory.
“You can’t be satisfied if you’re losing 17-7 — it doesn’t matter who you’re playing against,” Priore said. “But I was pleased with our effort and our focus under the conditions that we were in. We adapted to a delayed start. We didn’t get a chance to warm up correctly. But I thought our kids ran around and played very hard, which is what we talked about all week.”
Brown was injured after taking the two sacks, prompting Oregon to put in freshman quarterback Ty Thompson, the Ducks’ first-ever five-star QB recruit, for the rest of the game. While Thompson’s first drive ended in a three-and-out, the rest of the third quarter would not go as smoothly for the Seawolves. The Stony Brook offense could not get anything going, recording -14 yards in the period.
Fields’ third interception of the night just about sealed the game. The wide receiver slipped as the ball was being thrown, allowing Ducks junior safety Bennett Williams to seize the ball and take it back to the Stony Brook 11-yard line. It took three plays for Oregon to extend its lead to 31-7.
Redshirt junior quarterback Joshua Zamot took over for Fields in the fourth quarter after Fields took a hard hit on an attempted fourth-down pass.
“When you look at the end of the game, we controlled the run game in the first half and we were very successful on third down, which allowed us to stay in the game,” Priore said.
Stony Brook won the time of possession battle and put up 191 of its 271 total yards of offense in the first half. In Oregon’s win last week against Ohio State, the Ducks recorded just one negative run play and allowed zero sacks. Stony Brook eclipsed the Buckeyes’ numbers in those categories on Saturday.
“We played down to their level … There’s nothing satisfying about this win right now,” Oregon junior running back Travis Dye said after the game.
The Seawolves conclude their non-conference portion of the schedule back home in Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 25 against the Fordham Rams at 3:30 p.m.