Stony Brook safety Dominick Reyes plays the right position because he has provided the safety net for the Seawolves' defense at critical moments the past two seasons. His interception in the end zone preserved Stony Brook's FCS playoff win over Albany last season, and he thwarted an upset bid by Coastal Carolina last week with a fourth-quarter fumble recovery.
"It's being in the right place at the right time, but it starts with hustling to the ball," Reyes said. "No matter where it's at, you've got to be there because anything could happen."
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The senior safety is the captain and leader of a defense that likely will be tested by Gardner-Webb quarterback Lucas Beatty at 4 p.m. Saturday at LaValle Stadium. The Runnin' Bulldogs are only 1-5 overall (0-1 in Big South play), but they have played a tough schedule and took a 28-10 lead two weeks ago at Liberty in their 42-35 loss.
Beatty began that game by completing 19 of his first 20 passes, including 13 straight, on his way to throwing for 383 yards and one touchdown and completing 84.4 percent of his passes (27 of 32), a Big South record.
"He had a great game, but it's going to be different against us," Reyes said. "We're a completely different team than Liberty. This guy makes good decisions and has good touch. But we're going to be just fine."
If there's one thing besides the running of Miguel Maysonet that has made Stony Brook (6-1, 2-0) successful this season, it has been the ability of the defense to make stops in crucial situations. The Seawolves made two goal-line stands in their only loss at Syracuse and another in a win at Army, and they held Colgate to a second-half field goal after falling behind at halftime.
They found themselves in a precarious situation last week at Coastal Carolina after placekicker Wes Skiffington missed an extra point that left them trying to protect a 27-21 lead. Coastal drove to Stony Brook's 16, where Christian Ricard forced the fumble that Reyes recovered.
"I think we had control of the game in the second half," SBU coach Chuck Priore said, "but when you miss that extra point, it makes you sweat a little bit . . . Dom made the recovery, but he wasn't the first kid on it. Their kid had it, and Dom took it right out of his hands."
With a smile, Reyes added: "Stuff happens in the bottom of the pile. We had to step up and make a play, and we did."