Donald Liotine grew up playing football for The Stony Brook School, a 360-student Christian prep school right across Route 25A from the Stony Brook University campus. But the route that took him from there to a starring role in the Seawolves' 14-3 win over Howard last Saturday at LaValle Stadium could not have been more arduous.

Recruited only by D-III and D-II schools, Liotine stayed home in Medford to play for coach Chuck Priore as a walk-on. "Every D-I school told me I didn't play enough competition and that I couldn't play at that level,'' Liotine said. "I refused to believe it and Coach P blessed me with a chance. I had a rough beginning two years, two injuries in football camp both years. I just kept believing in myself, and it worked out for me.''

Liotine underwent surgery on both shoulders but never gave the idea of quitting a second thought. When running backs Stacy Bedell and Isaiah White suffered season-ending injuries, Liotine was next man up. Against Howard, he put his name in the SBU books with a single-game record 38 carries for 204 yards and two touchdowns.

Suddenly, he's the offensive workhorse who will lead the Seawolves (3-5, 1-5 CAA) Saturday at Rhode Island (1-8, 1-5). Not that he wants to carry 38 times again. Priore emphasized the need for some big passing plays from quarterback Conor Bednarski, who has regained the starting role, to help balance the offense.

Speak of his record carries, Liotine said, "That's pretty cool in my first official start as a Stony Brook running back. It just shows me coach believes in me. Obviously, 38 is a bunch. I don't know if I can do that a few weeks in a row. But with the situation we were in, he needed an experienced running back, and I'm glad he trusted me to be that guy.''

Liotine became the 13th player in Stony Brook history to top the 200-yard rushing mark. In high school, he once rushed for 340 yards against Southampton.

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"That team was in the same situation my high school was in last year, not a lot of numbers,'' Liotine said.

Ironically, Liotine outran the football program at The Stony Brook School, which dropped the sport this year. "My senior class was real good (with) core guys who had been playing together since ninth grade,'' Liotine said. "We all graduated, and they went 0-8 the next season and just didn't have the numbers and they cut the program.''

Coming from that humble beginning, Liotine can take pride in proving himself with that 200-yard performance at the D-I level. "It's a validation that I can play here,'' Liotine said. "I needed that for myself. It's nice to know that I can be a guy here that can compete and change a game. So, that was great.''