Needing one yard to extend the game and maintain the Stony Brook football team’s all-time unbeaten streak against the Rhode Island Rams alive, redshirt junior running back Ty Son Lawton was stuffed on consecutive plays.
With the goal-line stand, the Seawolves lost their first-ever game in program history to Rhode Island. The 27-20 road overtime defeat on Saturday, Oct. 2 handed Stony Brook its third consecutive loss, this time to another opponent that it had historically dominated.
The Seawolves’ 1-4 start is the program’s worst through five games since 2014.
“I think we’re a good football team,” head coach Chuck Priore said after the loss. “Finding our way to the win column at this point, if we play like we played today, we’ll win plenty of games.”
It was a back-and-forth contest the entire way. Rhode Island earned the first overtime possession and needed just two plays to reach the end zone. When the Seawolves had 3rd-and-1 at the Rhode Island 2-yard line on their own drive, it looked as if Stony Brook was knocking on the door, only to fall short.
Stony Brook only found itself in the position of needing to play overtime because of an earlier missed extra point by redshirt sophomore kicker Angelo Guglielmello. Fellow redshirt sophomore kicker Mike Boyle replaced Guglielmello on the Seawolves’ next point-after attempt and converted, marking the second time this season that Guglielmello was pulled mid-game for Boyle.
The Seawolves put together a strong drive in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 20 apiece, highlighted by a 36-yard pass from graduate quarterback Tyquell Fields to redshirt senior wide receiver Delante Hellams Jr. Facing 4th-and-3 at the Rhode Island 8-yard line with seven minutes left, Stony Brook kept the offense on the field. Fields was chased back but shook off a defender, showed off his athleticism, kept the ball and ran upfield for the score.
“I just went through my reads as normal,” Fields said after the game. “It’s really an ordinary play. It’s a big play because it’s fourth down, but that’s just bread-and-butter.”
Fields completed just nine of 19 passes for 101 yards on the afternoon. While he scored two touchdowns on the ground, he gained only 14 yards on his six carries and missed receivers on multiple deep passes. In contrast, Rhode Island redshirt junior quarterback Kasim Hill went 21-for-37 with 226 yards and also added 66 yards on 15 ground attempts. Hill converted seven of 11 third downs in the second half.
Rhode Island scored on all three of their red zone trips, taking advantage of the Seawolves’ struggles this season with red zone defense. Stony Brook continued to give up big plays in key moments, allowing Hill to complete back-to-back 28 and 35-yard passes to reach the Seawolves’ red zone on a fourth-quarter drive that ended with a Rams touchdown to go up 20-13.
Lawton had a career game, rushing for 154 yards on 28 carries while scoring his fourth touchdown of the season. After leaving last week’s game against Fordham early because of an injury, he did not practice until Thursday but still saw the bulk of carries on Saturday as the Seawolves’ most impactful player.
“It was mainly the O-line,” Lawton said about his accomplishment. “They’re always getting that push, and I just had to be a good back, see it and burst through the hole.”
The ground game carried Stony Brook’s first scoring drive, allowing the Seawolves to draw first blood. Lawton powered his way up the field and capped off the possession with a 30-yard touchdown run that put Stony Brook up 7-0.
“Sometimes they’ll over-pursue and they’ll have backside, but our guard Cole [Gambino] opened it up for us and I just shot right through,” Lawton said.
Stony Brook stymied Rhode Island’s offense in the first quarter as well, with none of the Rams’ four drives lasting over five plays or two minutes. Rhode Island never reached Seawolves territory, and Stony Brook’s defense broke through for numerous sacks. The script flipped midway through the second quarter as a Fields interception served as the catalyst for the change in momentum.
Fields was picked off on a deep ball, but an unsportsmanlike conduct flag forced the Rhode Island drive to start at their own 11-yard line. Even with that, the Rams were able to march down the field and wear down the Seawolves’ run defense, reaching the red zone on a 40-yard quarterback keeper and punching it in on the next play.
Stony Brook gave the Rams the ball with 2:51 left in the half following a three-and-out, and Rhode Island took advantage by grabbing the lead with a 42-yard field goal.
“We can’t get too down on this,” Fields said. “We did a lot of good things. Obviously, we’ve got to clean up some things but we can’t look at all the bad things we did.”
The Seawolves’ next chance to snap their three-game losing streak comes next Saturday, Oct. 9 against the Towson Tigers at 4 p.m. in Maryland.