Stony Brook scored its third Big South blowout in as many conference games this season with a 42-0 rout of Coastal Carolina Saturday night at LaValle Stadium, and it underlined once again the ability of Seawolves coach Chuck Priore and his staff to make effective halftime adjustments.
Although SBU appeared to be in control with a 14-0 halftime lead after keeping Carolina bottled up after its opening 64-yard drive, the rain and wind made for unpredictable conditions that could cause a sudden turnaround. The Seawolves had 168 yards rushing by halftime, including 122 by Miguel Maysonet, but Priore saw something in the Chanticleers' defense he thought he could attack to get running back Brock Jackolski going.
"We changed the formation to a double-wing situation," Priore said. "We didn't practice it all week, but it was something we did at UTEP [in the season opener]. We ran two different plays out of it, and we also quick-huddled in the third quarter. That's not something we practice a lot, but it's a credit to the kids that they adjusted."
The double-wing formation essentially shifted an extra blocker to one side, which gave Jackolski the help he needed at the point of attack on the corner. Carolina failed to adjust at first, and when the Chanticleers did recognize what was going on, Priore had a play ready to go to the weak side of the formation.
Jackolski rushed for 131 of his career-high 193 yards in the second half, and Maysonet finished with 191 yards rushing. Overall, Stony Brook gained 446 yards on the ground, which was good because the Seawolves gained zero passing in the inclement conditions.
"We made an adjustment at halftime with the [offensive linemen] who were pulling on the outside plays, and it opened it up," said Jackolski.
Priore also devised a strategy for the weather for the punting game. Stony Brook's first punt came with the wind at its back, and Luke Allen boomed a 46-yarder. But in the second quarter when the Seawolves were backed up near the goal line and going against the wind, Priore inserted placekicker Wes Skiffington (pictured) to handle the punting.
Allen is the better punter, but he had some trouble early in the season handling snaps. "I know Skiffington catches the ball," Priore said. "So, I made the decision to use him whenever we were backed up in our end of the field."
It worked perfectly in contrast to Coastal Carolina punter Austin Cain who mishandled two snaps near his own goal line, leading to two Stony Brook TDs. On the first, Cain was tackled at his own 1-yard line, and Stony Brook defensive lineman Jonathan Coats blocked Cain's punt after he fumbled the second snap and then scooped it up and scored from the 2-yard line.
Skiffington's two punts were short ones, averaging only 25 yards into the wind, but the second would have gone further except that it hit a Stony Brook player and was ruled down about 15 yards shorter than it actually rolled. Skiffington credited long snapper Adam Nowak, saying, "Nowak puts the ball on the money, and I just concentrated on keeping my eye on the ball."
Skiffington lined up for one field-goal attempt in the second quarter, but it was botched when Nowak's snap was a little high and holder Josh Gibson couldn't get it down. "It was a fairly good snap," Skiffington said. "But it's tough for anybody to catch the ball in these conditions. They did a great job on the PATs all day. We just trusted the operation."
Skiffington was 6 for 6 on the kicks that Gibson got down after the snap, and that was a small miracle under difficult circumstances. But just as Priore and his staff adjusted to what they saw from Coastal Carolina, the Seawolves adjusted to what they were asked to do by their coaches and they handled the brutal weather conditions to extend their winning streak to five games.