Unbeknownst to a record LaValle Stadium crowd of 10,278, a fireworks display was cued up east of the field and ready to go for the expected Homecoming celebration against Colgate. But somebody forgot to tell the Raiders, who took a 21-17 halftime lead and expanded it to 28-20 heading to the fourth quarter.
But the Seawolves got fourth-quarter TDs from big backs Marcus Coker and Miguel Maysonet, a touchdown-saving tackle from safety Cedrick Moore and stopped Colgate's Jordan McCord on fourth-and-one at the Stony Brook 48 with 50 seconds left in the game. Only then could the Seawolves exhale as their fans rushed to midfield to celebrate a remarkable 32-31 comeback victory.
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"It was great," said Maysonet, who rushed 27 times for a career-high 198 yards and scored the game-winning one-yard TD with 3:31 left to play. "I had people coming up to me left and right, trying to take their picture with me. We put on a good show."
It almost turned into a horror show. Coming off their emotional 28-17 loss at Syracuse of the Big East, the Seawolves were focused on preventing a letdown. The ease with which they built an early 17-0 lead on a 1-yard run by Coker, a 34-yard TD pass from Kyle Essington to Jordan Gush and a 41-yard Wes Skiffington field goal virtually lulled them to sleep.
"Honestly, yeah, we let up a little bit, and they gained the lead" Maysonet said.
Colgate put together an 81-yard scoring drive that ended with a one-yard run by McCord, who carried 23 times for 116 yards, but Maysonet took the kickoff 52 yards to the Raiders' 48. However, he fumbled on fourth-and-four, and on Colgate's first play, Gavin McCarney hit wide-open Ed Pavalko up the middle for a 51-yard touchdown that cut SBU's lead to 17-14.
The brilliance of that call seemed to shake up the Seawolves. Essington threw a pass that was tipped and then intercepted by defensive lineman Chris Horner at Stony Brook's 23, and the Raiders scored the go-ahead TD on a 6-yard run for a 21-17 halftime lead.
Stony Brook coach Chuck Priore blamed himself for the fourth-and-four call that ignited Colgate's comeback. "I told them at halftime, 'You've got my back, and I'll be better in the second half. We dominated the second half."
Well, that is the Seawolves dominated after Essington fumbled and Raiders linebacker Austin Dier scooped it up and went 14 yards for a TD and a 28-20 lead with 6:32 left in the third period.
"They got a break," SBU linebacker Jawara Dudley said of the fumble return. "The defense had to step up. We stopped them and held them to three [offensive] points in the second half.
Early in the fourth quarter, Coker (15 carries, 68 yards), capped a 75-yard drive with a 14-yard burst up the middle. The two-point conversion failed, leaving the deficit at 28-26.
Colgate came right back with McCord breaking into the clear for 33 yards to the SBU 12, where Moore dragged him down from behind. "I never thought he was going to score," Moore insisted. "I just hustled."
The Radiers settled for a 27-yard Andrew Burgess field goal and a 31-26 lead. Stony Brook then responded with a 12-play drive covering 75 yards and lasting 6:07 before Maysonet's 1-yard run for a 32-31 lead after another two-point pass went awry. Then, the defense came up big against McCord.
"When we needed it, we got a 12-play, 75-yard drive in 6:07, and we stopped them on fourth-and-one," Priore said. "I'll take that to the bank."
All that was left were the fireworks.