BOZEMAN, Mont. -- It wasn't the ending Stony Brook wanted when it began this season with dreams of a Football Championship Subdivision national title. The best football season in SBU history ended with a mistake-filled 16-10 loss to host Montana State Saturday night.
The same players who led the Seawolves (10-3) to unprecedented heights also shared in the misery of the second-round loss to the third-seeded Bobcats (11-1). Walter Payton Award finalist Miguel Maysonet lost a fumble at the MSU 21; quarterback Kyle Essington lost two fumbles, and safety Dominick Reyes, who has saved so many wins for Stony Brook, was beaten on a 69-yard touchdown pass from DeNarius McGhee to Tanner Bleskin.
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But ultimately, those three seniors were part of a class that put Stony Brook on the FCS map. "I've been here for three years," said Maysonet, who transferred from Hofstra. "I've seen it just get better and better every single year. I'm excited to have the opportunity to play football with the Seawolves and great seniors I was with. It shows with us making the second round of the playoffs two years in a row. It shows we're capable to compete."
Stony Brook lost to eventual national runner-up and top seed Sam Houston State, 34-27, in the second round of the FCS playoffs last year.
Reyes spent five years in the program, including a redshirt year, and he always will be remembered for the game-ending interception in Stony Brook's first-ever FCS playoff win over Albany last year. "We had a good run, and now it's up to the underclassmen to keep it going,'' he said. "They're great kids, so I'm proud to be an alum now."
Essington missed the Seawolves' first-round win over Villanova this year while recovering from a deep thigh bruise, but he started and went the whole way against Montana State. Reflecting on the end of his career, he said, "I love this team and this community. When they move to the CAA next year, I know they're going to do big things."
Coach Chuck Priore made the decision to go with Essington during pregame warmups despite little practice. "We were confident in him, and he had a good game," Priore said. "It was important for him to go out that way."
As for the great Maysonet, who finished this season with 1,964 rushing yards, Priore said, "He's a tremendous individual and a class person. We'll miss him very dearly. But we'll be seeing him on Sunday afternoons, and I'm excited about that."