Redshirt junior running back Ty Son Lawton getting tackled in a game against Fordham on Sept. 25. Lawton ran for 119 yards and two touchdowns in the Seawolves’ fourth straight loss against Towson on Oct. 9. KAT PROCACCI/THE STATESMAN

Given new life by a game-changing fumble, the Stony Brook football team failed to convert on its final drive and lost 21-14 at Johnny Unitas Stadium to the Towson Tigers on Saturday, Oct. 9. 

The defeat was the fourth straight for the Seawolves (1-5, 0-3 CAA), who share the distinction of being winless against Colonial Athletic Association opponents this season with Maine, Albany and Richmond.

The last time Stony Brook started 1-5? 2008.

“I think, once again, overall we’re a good football team that just hasn’t won football games,” head coach Chuck Priore said in a postgame press conference. 

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Up 21-7 in the fourth quarter, Towson was given a short field after a Stony Brook turnover, but Tigers graduate tight end Jason Epps fumbled the ball himself on what looked to be an easy touchdown. Instead, it was ruled a touchback and the extra chance set up redshirt junior running back Ty Son Lawton to break free for a 41-yard score that cut the Seawolves’ deficit to seven.

The 14-point swing was huge for Stony Brook, who would get the ball back at their own 22-yard line with 4:43 remaining in the game, still needing a touchdown to tie. The Seawolves slowly gained small chunks of the field, with no play going for more than 11 yards as the clock continued to run.

Stony Brook finally used its first timeout of the half on 3rd-and-1 with 22 seconds left at the Towson 22-yard line. Lawton could not convert on a run up the middle, forcing the Seawolves to burn their second timeout. A slow-developing pass play on fourth down resulted in graduate quarterback Tyquell Fields retreating 10 yards back from the original line of scrimmage before ultimately getting sacked for a five-yard loss to end the game.

Lawton continued his strong campaign with 119 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries for his third 100-yard rushing game of 2021. With 544 rushing yards and six touchdowns on the season, Lawton currently leads all CAA running backs in both categories.

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“We came out knowing they pack the box and they play a good run defense,” Priore said. “We came in trying to be a 50-50 team … Obviously, Ty’s long touchdown run in the fourth quarter got us back in the game and his consistent carries were positive.”

The first half of the game moved at a fast pace with only seven total drives between the two teams. The Seawolves won the coin toss but elected to defer, allowing the Tigers to eat up eight and a half minutes of clock on their opening touchdown drive. Towson converted two third downs and a fourth down on the possession, using a balanced attack to grind its way down the field and score on a three-yard rush.

As a result, Stony Brook’s opening series began with 6:07 left in the first quarter and did not end until the first play of the second, taking seven minutes itself. The Seawolves’ passing game was effective early as Fields went 5-for-7 for 60 yards, opening up the run game for Lawton, who was coming off a career-high 154-yard game against Rhode Island last week. Lawton entered the game as the CAA’s leading rusher and punctuated the drive with his fifth touchdown of the season to tie the contest at 7-7.

Despite besting Towson in total yardage, time of possession and first downs, the Tigers nearly reached paydirt on all four of its red zone trips while Stony Brook was inefficient again and had multiple promising drives sputter out in Towson territory.

“This will be the second game this year I’ve lost having over 25 first downs, so we’re good [but] we’re not making explosive plays offensively,” Priore said. “Stats fib sometimes because they don’t stand on the scoreboard.”

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The Seawolves reached the Tigers’ 32-yard line right before the half, but a false start on fourth down turned a manageable gain into a long one, and Fields ended up being sacked to give Towson the ball with field position and enough time to attempt a blocked 48-yard field goal as time expired. 

In the third quarter, Stony Brook marched down to the Towson 24 on its opening drive only for Fields to run out of bounds for a 10-yard loss and for the Seawolves to call a Lawton run up the middle on 3rd-and-20, which gained back one. Looking to play the field position game, graduate punter Mitchell Wright pinned the Tigers at their 6-yard line. It didn’t matter when Towson immediately went 94 yards on 14 plays to extend their lead to 21-7.

A 50-yard heave from Fields to redshirt sophomore wide receiver Shawn Harris Jr. on the next series set Stony Brook up to eventually reach Towson’s 14. From there, the Seawolves moved backwards, Fields was almost intercepted and redshirt sophomore kicker Angelo Guglielmello sent a 35-yard field goal attempt wide left. Guglielmello has missed all three of his field goal attempts this season.

“It stinks to lose the third league game now that came to one score, last possession, fourth down,” Priore said.

Fields went 20-for-33 for 220 yards, with eight of those passes going to Harris for 109 yards. However, he was sacked four times for 37 yards while the Stony Brook pass rush could not sack Towson graduate quarterback Chris Ferguson once. The Seawolves’ defensive unit continued its takeaway drought, which has lasted for all four games of the current losing streak.

“It’s a very tough loss,” Lawton said. “I feel like we need to work on finishing as an offense in scoring points.”

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The road does not get easier with a home date against No. 9 Delaware next on the schedule on Saturday, Oct. 16 at 3:30 p.m.

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