The Golden Apple is staying on Long Island.
In a dominating effort from the opening snap, the Stony Brook football team blew out the Albany Great Danes, its biggest rival, 36-14 on Saturday, Nov. 20 to secure its second straight win in the series.
Stony Brook entered the Battle for the Golden Apple with a bittersweet taste in its mouth, having clinched a third straight losing season last week against Villanova. From the start, the Seawolves refused to let the year end without the Golden Apple trophy under their belt.
On the first play from scrimmage, redshirt junior running back Ty Son Lawton burst through the middle for a 44-yard gain. Stony Brook quickly cashed in on its opportunities when redshirt sophomore tight end Tyler Devera caught a wide-open 21-yard touchdown pass to take a 7-0 lead less than three minutes into the game.
That 44-yard rush from Lawton wasn’t just a great way to open the final game of the season, but it also put him at 998 yards on the year — just two away from achieving the 1,000-yard accolade.
“Well, it shocks me every week when stuff like that happens,” Lawton said in a postgame press conference. “But it was crazy. I was excited but it turns out that I only got 44 yards, and I still needed two more.”
Lawton ended the game with 134 yards on 25 carries, putting him at 1,088 for the year. He ends the regular season as the leading rusher in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA). Lawton’s early-game success proved to be a key factor in Stony Brook’s offensive decision-making as the game progressed. The Seawolves would end the game with 333 total rushing yards, 160 of which came from backup redshirt freshman running back Roland Dempster.
Stony Brook’s ground success came while also limiting Albany’s star senior running back Karl Mofor, who entered the game second behind Lawton in the CAA with 898 rushing yards. Head coach Chuck Priore was especially focused on Mofor’s previous offensive success going into Saturday’s matchup.
“It was crucial because they rely on that. They’ll give the ball to that kid 40 times a game if they can and he’ll control the clock,” Priore said, referencing his 45-carry game against New Hampshire two weeks ago. “I also believe our offense possessing the ball in the first half allowed us to be successful.”
Mofor had only 64 yards on the ground and was held to just five yards on three carries in the first quarter. Graduate defensive lineman Brandon Lopez also prioritized limiting his rushing game before Saturday’s matchup.
“They had a great running game,” Lopez said. “They were second in the CAA behind Ty Son, so we gave it our best effort to shut their running game down.”
The Seawolves had plenty of big moments play out in their favor throughout the game.
An intentional grounding call in the end zone against Albany redshirt sophomore quarterback Jeff Undercuffler gave Stony Brook a 12-0 lead on the safety. With the ball back, the next play saw graduate quarterback Tyquell Fields connect with redshirt sophomore wide receiver Shawn Harris Jr. for a 67-yard touchdown bomb as the Seawolves scored nine points in 18 seconds.
On Albany’s first possession of the second half, redshirt junior defensive lineman Jaylyn Stover blocked a punt and deflected the ball to redshirt freshman running back Jayden Cook, who scooped it up and ran it into the end zone for the easy score and the 26-0 lead.
Moments like these were all it took for Stony Brook to pile on the points as it worked its way towards the Golden Apple trophy.
Along with the help from Lawton and Dempster’s rushing games, Fields was able to capitalize on a sloppy Albany defense with 149 passing yards in his final game with the Seawolves.
“It felt great,” Fields said. “Obviously, the Albany and Stony Brook matchup is a rivalry and it’s one that we hold close. So, it was great for me to leave knowing that the Apple is at Stony Brook.”
Stony Brook’s determination to keep the Golden Apple at home, along with the drive to beat its bitter rivals, was what truly elevated the stakes of this game. Despite missing the playoffs for a third straight season, the Seawolves’ victory over Albany will undoubtedly lift the team’s spirits as the offseason begins.
“Albany has been the last game of the year almost every time I’ve been here except for one time,” Priore said. “I think the last game allows you to move forward correctly. This is certainly a rivalry game. We both have a similar recruiting base … They’re a good program overall. We had a good day today and we’ll utilize that for our offseason.”