SYRACUSE -- For the first half Saturday at the Carrier Dome, it appeared Stony Brook's football team might take a page from the baseball team's handbook and "shock the world."
Of course, that was the rallying cry when the Seawolves baseballers reached the College World Series. The football team, which plays in the Football Championship Subdivision, was in position for a similar surprise after taking a three-point halftime lead over Syracuse of the Big East in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
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Despite making two brilliant goal-line stands on defense, Stony Brook's dreams of an upset faded in the second half when penalties and poor field position throttled the Seawolves' offense. It seemed Syracuse spent the second half in SBU territory on its way to a 28-17 victory.
Stony Brook (2-1) now is 0-4 against FBS schools, but its performance was a far cry from the 59-14 loss it suffered two years ago at South Florida the first time it moved up. "At halftime, we were really fired up," quarterback Kyle Essington said. "We had penalties and a couple busted plays . It just got away from us."
In the first half, the Seawolves controlled the ball for 20:10, primarily with the running of Miguel Maysonet, who finished with 158 yards on 21 carries, and Marcus Coker, who added 59 yards on 17 carries. They also showed quick-strike capability, scoring on a 63-yard bomb from Essington to Kevin Norrell on the first play of the second series and a brilliant 71-yard run by Maysonet in which he hurdled a Syracuse tackler before racing to the end zone for a 17-14 lead.
"Maysonet's touchdown run was a highlight film," Seawolves coach Chuck Priore said.
Syracuse (1-2) seemed confused in the first half against the matchup zone defense SBU was using. Quarterback Ryan Nassib had one big play when a simple swing pass to Prince-Tyson Gulley turned into a 61-yard touchdown, and the Orange scored on a 22-yard run by Ashton Broyld.
Stony Brook had a chance for a seven-point halftime lead, but tight end Brett Arce dropped a sure TD pass from Essington on a trick play before Wes Skiffington's 20-yard field goal gave SBU a 10-7 lead. "It was wide-open," Priore said of the drop. "You've got to finish that. Four points makes a difference."
After the euphoria of halftime, reality kicked in for Stony Brook. Syracuse took the third-quarter kickoff and drove 85 yards for the go-ahead TD on a 12-yard slant from Nassib to Jarrod West for a 21-17 lead. On the ensuing kickoff, Adrian Coxson was tackled at his own 10-yard line, and field position never got much better for SBU, which picked up only two first downs after halftime and had the ball for only 10:08.
The Seawolves' defense stopped Syracuse on fourth- down plays at the 3-yard line and the 1-yard line. But Stony Brook's offense stalled because penalties wiped out three first-down runs.
"The defense played valiant," Priore said. "Our coaches were confident we could make them do things they were not comfortable with. But they adjusted in the second half."
Syracuse got an insurance touchdown with 5:53 left on a 19-yard pass to Marcus Sales from Nassib, who completed 22 of 35 passes for 335 yards and three TDs.
Stony Brook proved it could compete with an FBS team, but that's what made the disappointment of the loss sting so much.
Taking note of a Carrier Dome sign branding the Orange as "New York's College Team," Maysonet said, "I was definitely going to take a picture in front of that banner if we won. We can compete with any team out there."