Redshirt junior running back Ty Son Lawton with the ball in the game against Delaware on Oct. 16. The Stony Brook Seawolves are tied for fourth place in the CAA standings after winning their last three games. KAT PROCACCI/THE STATESMAN

The Stony Brook football team proved its gritty ability to win against the Maine Black Bears on Saturday, Nov. 6. The 22-17 victory differed from the team’s last two explosive wins against Delaware and Richmond, as both teams averaged under five yards per play and neither topped 300 yards from scrimmage.

What went right for the Seawolves? For starters, having the ball for almost 10 more minutes than the other team and committing only half of the penalty yards as the other team are two textbook ways to win football games. Head coach Chuck Priore used his modus operandi to run the ball, controlling the clock and keeping his defense well-rested on the sideline.

Having a star-like redshirt junior running back Ty Son Lawton makes that a viable task. Lawton toted the rock 26 times for 96 yards for only 3.7 yards per carry, but he still amassed enough yards and moved the chains enough to keep Stony Brook’s offense on the field for 34:50. He took back sole possession of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) lead with his ninth rushing touchdown of the year while adding his first receiving score. Overall, Stony Brook’s workhorse totaled 28 touches and 105 yards from scrimmage with two total touchdowns.

Graduate quarterback Tyquell Fields did little, though he did not have to. He completed only 13 of 25 passes (52%) for 164 yards with only one touchdown pass to Lawton while throwing a momentum-altering pick to the end zone in the second quarter. Fields’ mobility, along with powerful play from his offensive line, held the Black Bears’ defense without a sack. Despite not posting gaudy stats, Fields completed the passes when necessary and managed his team to a victory.

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The red-hot Stony Brook defense, highlighted by defensive line coach Bryan Collins’ addition, continued its dominant stretch. After going four straight games without a defensive takeaway and five straight without an interception, the Seawolves have forced many turnovers in each of their three straight wins.

Hitting its stride, Stony Brook gave Maine redshirt freshman quarterback Derek Robertson a hard time as he went 17-for-32 for only 160 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions and a lost fumble. Redshirt junior defensive lineman Makye Smith provided the game’s only sack, dropping Robertson for a loss of eight yards in the first quarter. Smith now leads Stony Brook with five sacks on the season. Overall, the defense held Maine’s offense to just 274 total yards. Situationally, Maine only went 3-for-11 on third downs and failed on its only fourth down.

Stony Brook has averaged 16.0 points allowed per game during its win streak and has forced 11 turnovers — seven fumbles and four interceptions.

This recent stretch has statistically salvaged and carried this defense into what is becoming a genuinely good season. Earlier performances such as against New Hampshire and Fordham saw Stony Brook play well for only one half, but the team is now putting together complete games. In nine games this season, Stony Brook has allowed 337.9 yards and 22.8 points per game, both good for fifth in the CAA. Without the Oregon game, the team is allowing 19.6 points per game this season. The Seawolves’ run defense gives up only 3.7 yards per carry and the passing defense holds opponents to 59.2% completion.

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The special teams unit helped pick up the offense on Saturday as redshirt sophomore kicker Angelo Guglielmello made all three of his field goal attempts. He has made his last five tries after missing his first three in 2021, but he missed an extra point against Maine.

By controlling the clock and taking care of the ball offensively, dominating every category defensively and playing sound football on special teams, the Stony Brook Seawolves (4-5, 3-3 CAA) are now tied for fourth place in the CAA standings.

A win next week against the No. 8 Villanova Wildcats (7-2, 5-1 CAA) would be the biggest resume-builder in the team’s turnaround. The once-winless in conference Stony Brook Seawolves are now the second-hottest team in the CAA and can upset the second-place Wildcats. They have already stunned one ranked team this year in Delaware, while Villanova is capable of being dominated at home as they were against William & Mary two weeks ago.

If Stony Brook plays their brand of football, they can win. Any given Saturday, right?

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