Stacey Bedell was on his way to proving you can go home again, but after a 56-yard gain in Stony Brook's spring football game Saturday at LaValle Stadium, the UMass transfer running back fell 3 yards short of reaching a Long Island end zone for the first time since his senior season at William Floyd High School.
Bedell broke free on a straight dive play up the middle but was caught from behind by defensive back Quinton Littlejohn. That was both the offensive and defensive play of a game in which the offense won, 17-13, but really was outplayed by a strong defense.
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"The line did a great job up front, the receivers blocked good, everybody blocked and I got in open space," Bedell said. With a smile, the 5-10, 180-pound slasher added: "It just shocked me that I got caught. That never happened to me before."
The co-Hansen Award winner in 2011 as the top player in Suffolk County said he ran a 4.4 40-yard dash the last time he was clocked in high school.
"He's got some speed on him,'' Bedell said of Littlejohn, who is from Gaithersburg, Md. "I was shocked. I shouldn't have looked back. I saw him coming. I felt like I started slowing down and he got me."
Seawolves coach Chuck Priore got a big kick out of that play and didn't hesitate to needle Bedell. "He's been caught twice this spring by the same person, Quinton Littlejohn, a redshirt freshman who is the fastest kid on our team," Priore said. "He's got great makeup speed. He caught [Bedell] early in the spring up the sideline the same way. He'll be on the field on a regular basis."
So will Bedell, who redshirted at Massachusetts in the 2012 season because of an injury and rushed for 301 yards last season before transferring. He doesn't have to sit out this season because he's moving from the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) to the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS).
"He has great vision, a burst at the line of scrimmage and the ability to change the field position," Priore said of Bedell.
The running game was compromised by the absence of three injured starters on the offensive line, but Bedell led all rushers Saturday with 77 yards on nine carries. James Kenner, who led the Seawolves in rushing last season, gained 48 yards on nine carries and scored on a 4-yard run, and Tyler Fredericks added 45 yards on nine carries. Starter Marcus Coker, who suffered a broken left fibula in a motorcycle accident a little more than two weeks ago, is expected to be healthy when players report for preseason camp Aug. 1.
"We have a great bunch of backs," Bedell said. "Whoever plays deserves it. Everybody is good."
There aren't enough carries to go around for the top four backs, so either Fredericks or Kenner is likely to redshirt if everyone is healthy after two games. "We're not going to force the issue," Priore said. "I would venture to say one of them probably will [redshirt]. We'll prepare that way because you never know what you're going to have."