Bad weather created a sluggish defensive fight early, but the Stony Brook football team allowed the No. 8 Villanova Wildcats to capitalize on initially unfavorable opportunities in a 33-14 blowout loss on Saturday, Nov. 13 in Pennsylvania.
The defeat snapped Stony Brook’s (4-6, 3-4 CAA) three-game win streak and secured the program’s third-straight losing season. First-place Villanova (8-2, 6-1 CAA) came alive in the second half and scored 26 straight points before pulling the starters in garbage time.
“The game was really two different halves,” head coach Chuck Priore said in a press release. “The first half was quite interesting with the weather and I thought both teams struggled with the weather at times — it was a field position battle. We gave them a score off of a turnover, and other than that, each team had a drive and it was a pretty even game at the end of the first half with the exception of the turnover.”
Heavy rain and wind became a factor early. The elements led to a sloppy, disjointed game and punished Stony Brook in the first quarter when a high snap sailed over graduate punter Mitchell Wright’s head and set Villanova up at the Seawolves’ 10-yard line. With one play, Wildcats senior running back Jalen Jackson found an easy path to the end zone for the first score.
The Seawolves immediately punched back with a methodical 12-play, 71-yard drive. Graduate quarterback Tyquell Fields, who completed only one of seven pass attempts in the first half, tied the game at 7-7 with a 9-yard keeper run for his seventh rushing touchdown of the season.
Villanova went on top late in the second quarter on a 12-play, 60-yard possession that was sustained by Seawolves mistakes. Graduate defensive back Carthell Flowers was flagged for pass interference on an incomplete 4th-and-5 pass, then Jackson carved through the Stony Brook defense for a 12-yard run on 3rd-and-11. His second touchdown run of the afternoon put Villanova up 14-7.
The strong winds significantly impacted each team’s punt distance in alternating quarters and made moving the ball through the air difficult. As a result of the poor weather conditions, both teams combined for 164 yards of total offense in the first half; Villanova had 91 to Stony Brook’s 73. Nearly 70% of that combined offensive output came on the ground.
With the sun coming out after halftime, Stony Brook whiffed on another huge opportunity by allowing Villanova graduate running back Justin Covington to burst through for an 83-yard run on 3rd-and-9 at the Wildcats’ own 2-yard line. A Villanova punt would have been a short one with the wind blowing against them. Instead, Wildcats graduate quarterback Daniel Smith found junior wide receiver Jaaron Hayek — the younger brother of Stony Brook graduate wide receiver Hunter Hayek — and the score extended Villanova’s lead to 20-7.
Stony Brook never got anything going after that, and a series of late hits increased the tensions and flags thrown between the two teams. Fields was taken out on the Seawolves’ last possession after a roughing the passer foul and redshirt junior quarterback Joshua Zamot took over to lead a scoring drive against the Villanova backups.
“We came out in the second half, the weather cleared up a little bit — still had the wind issue — and they got a big play in a crucial situation early in the second half, but it certainly changed the tide of the game,” Priore said.
Fields had his worst game of the season, going 4-for-18 for 42 yards and an interception. He now leads the CAA with 10 picks thrown. For Villanova, both Jackson and Covington went over 100 yards on the ground. Redshirt senior Seba Nekhet, Stony Brook’s second-string running back, did not play because of an injury he suffered in the victory against Maine last week.
With only pride to play for in the Battle for the Golden Apple, the Seawolves can at least end the season on a high note by keeping the trophy against Albany Great Danes on Saturday, Nov. 20 at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium.