Running back Ross Tallarico scoring his first career touchdown against William & Mary on Oct. 1. It was the only touchdown that the Stony Brook football team scored on Saturday, as they lost 27-10. CAMRON WANG / THE STATESMAN

Despite its cleanest performance of the year, the Stony Brook football team could not crank out an upset in their return home.

In their first home game in a month, the Seawolves (0-4, 0-3 CAA) were defeated by No. 18/21 William & Mary on Saturday by a score of 27-10. The Stony Brook defense fought valiantly against the Tribe’s dominant rushing attack, but the offense’s inability to sustain drives hurt them once more.

Saturday’s contest was a tale of two halves, as the Seawolves led at halftime. The defense held William & Mary to a field goal on the opening drive of the game, and the offense matched them with a field goal of their own. 

On the next drive, defensive end Eric Black hit William & Mary quarterback Darius Wilson as he threw, popping the ball up into the teeth of the defense. Linebacker Reidgee Dimanche promptly picked him off for his first career interception, setting up the offense inside the redzone. On second and goal, quarterback Daron Bryden checked it down to running back Ross Tallarico, who had the angle and found the endzone for the score. The touchdown reception was the first touchdown of Tallarico’s career.

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“I focused in, I knew I was getting the ball,” Tallarico said in a postgame press conference. “Just doing my job and doing the best I can to get in the endzone.”

In what turned out to be a field-position battle, Stony Brook was dominated. After taking a 10-3 lead into the second quarter, the Seawolves could not move the ball. The offense picked up no first downs in the second frame, allowing William & Mary to cut into their lead before halftime. With only 37 seconds left, the Tribe got the ball back at their own 48, and picked up 12 extra yards to give themselves a shot at a long field goal. William & Mary kicker Ethan Chang then successfully booted a 57-yarder to make it 10-6 at the half.

Despite the sour finish to the half, Stony Brook’s defense held the best running game in the conference to just 51 rushing yards on 22 attempts. They also held their ground in the redzone, holding William & Mary to just a field goal in their two trips. 

“We started off the game really strong,” Dimanche said in a postgame press conference. “All week, we were working on getting 11 hats to the ball. [We were] working on our technique, our speed, trying to make sure that we stay in our gaps and do our job and we did well for the first half.”

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The start of the third quarter was more indicative of the first half than the second. Both teams exchanged three-and-outs before Stony Brook finally put a drive together. However, a drop by wide receiver RJ Lamarre and an incompletion on third and 12 stalled the drive for the Seawolves, forcing a punt. The defense once again held William & Mary at bay, but Stony Brook did nothing with the ball on their next possession.

The Tribe finally broke through after Clayton Taylor’s sixth punt of the day gave them the ball at their own 40. The offense then drove 60 yards in five plays, finishing with a 10-yard touchdown run by running back Malachi Imoh. The Tribe took a 13-10 lead into the fourth quarter, where they ultimately ran away with it.

William & Mary forced another punt to start the fourth quarter and was rewarded with a 37-yard return by wide receiver Caylin Newton. The Seawolves had a chance to get off the field and flip the momentum, but Wilson converted a critical third down with a 21-yard strike to tight end Lachlan Pitts. On the next play, Imoh turned the corner to the left and broke the plane for his second touchdown in as many drives.

Now trailing 20-10, Stony Brook had a chance to get back into it, but Bryden took a 15-yard sack on third down to force another punt. William & Mary promptly put the game away on the next drive, as Imoh busted out a 28-yard touchdown run to make it a three-possession game.

The final six minutes of the game were all garbage time, as Stony Brook went three-and-out with Drew Guttieri playing quarterback before William & Mary ran out the clock. 

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On the bright side, Stony Brook did not commit a turnover for the first time all year. However, Bryden finished the game poorly and completed just 13 of his 25 passes for 107 yards. The offense only generated 159 scrimmage yards, as two big sacks plummeted their rushing yards total to just 52.

“He’s growing as a person,” head coach Chuck Priore said of Bryden in a postgame press conference. “He’s working hard at it. It’s not easy. I think he knows that better days are ahead of him.”

Tallarico was the best player on the field for Stony Brook’s offense, as he racked up 108 yards from scrimmage and the team’s only touchdown on 25 total touches. Priore said that he is proud of his effort.

“I’m proud of Ross,” Priore said. “Any time you have one of those stories and a kid gets an opportunity he never thought he’d be on the football field for Stony Brook he’s worked hard to prepare. He’s put his head down. I think you saw the results of hard work on the football field today.”

The strength of Stony Brook’s linebacking corps was on full display, as they helped keep the team in the game on defense. Carthell Flowers-Lloyd led the team with 13 total tackles and a new career-high 4.0 tackles for loss. Tyler King had his best game of the year, racking up 12 total tackles, including 2.5 for loss and one sack. Dimanche tallied 12 tackles to accompany his interception.

Stony Brook is now 0-4 for the first time since 2006, which was Priore’s first year as head coach at Stony Brook. They will look to snap their losing streak next Saturday at 3:30 p.m., where they will travel to New Hampshire to take on the Wildcats. New Hampshire was receiving votes this past week in both the Stats Perform FCS Poll and the FCS Coaches Poll. The team is currently 3-2 overall after losing to Western Michigan on Saturday, but they are 3-0 against CAA opponents.

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Mike Anderson is the sports editor of The Statesman. He is a junior majoring in journalism with aspirations of becoming a sports journalist. His love of sports comes from his time spent as a baseball player. As a reporter for The Statesman, he has covered baseball, softball, football, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer and hockey. He has also interned at Axcess Sports as a high school and college baseball and softball reporter. He is a local product from Port Jefferson, N.Y., and is a diehard Mets, Jets, Nets and Islanders fan.

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