Stony Brook's opener at Toledo was canceled because of lightning, and Central Connecticut hit the Seawolves with another lightning-strike 51-yard tipped-ball scoring pass from Jacob Dolegala to Dan Hebert 56 seconds into the home opener Saturday night at LaValle Stadium.
But everything that could go wrong didn't go wrong for Stony Brook (1-0) in its first game that counted. In fact, it went as right as the rain that poured throughout the game, as right as it has gone in more than two seasons, as the Seawolves regained a semblance of their past dominance in a 38-9 victory over the Blue Devils.
Running back Stacey Bedell scored a career-high three touchdowns and rushed for 133 yards on 22 carries, redshirt freshman quarterback Joe Carbone played well in place of ailing starter Conor Bednarski, and the defense recovered from that early slip to limit CCSU (0-2) to 120 yards total offense and a mere six first downs.
SBU totaled 479 yards on offense, including 349 rushing.
The timing for such a confidence-boosting performance could not have been better with defending Colonial Athletic Association champion New Hampshire visiting LaValle next Saturday. "This was a very important game for us as a program to get back to being a dominating football team," Stony Brook coach Chuck Priore said. "It was real exciting to see."
In the first half, Priore alternated Bednarski and Carbone from one series to the next because Bednarski's surgically repaired throwing shoulder still was sore from the game at Toledo nine days earlier, when he had to warm up several times during the course of three rain delays. At halftime, Priore decided to stick with Carbone.
"We didn't want to risk Conor, so we planned to play Joe more going into the game," Priore said, indicating that Bednarski will remain the starter if healthy. "There's no controversy. We've got two good quarterbacks. I like that."
Despite the inconsistency in the first half, Stony Brook built a 17-6 halftime lead. After CCSU's opening score, Bedell broke a 30-yard run on the Seawolves' first play from scrimmage and capped a 76-yard drive with an 8-yard scoring run for a 7-6 lead after Przemyslaw Popek's extra point.
Popek later missed a 27-yard field goal, but after a fumble recovery at the Blue Devils' 19, he converted from 32 yards for a 10-6 lead. Bedell added a 2-yard TD run before halftime.
"The game being cut short [at Toledo] made us more hungry," Bedell said. "We were fueled up and ready to go. The offensive line did a great job . . . of opening up holes for me."
Carbone, who completed 10 of 16 passes for 109 yards and rushed for 20 yards and two touchdowns, found some consistency in the second half. "Coach told me at halftime to be ready to go," he said. "It really helped my rhythm."
On the opening drive of the second half, Carbone got Stony Brook out of a second-and-19 situation with a 26-yard completion to Ray Bolden. That ignited a 57-yard scoring drive capped by Carbone's 2-yard touchdown run on fourth down for a 24-6 lead after a fake to freshman running back Isaiah White, who gained 103 yards on 17 carries.
"That was a 'read' play," Carbone said. "I was the only one who knew I was keeping it."
After an interception by Seawolves linebacker Julian Quintin, a penalty put the ball at the SBU 16, but Carbone led a 12-play drive covering the distance as Bedell scored his third touchdown on a 25-yard run for a 31-6 advantage. Carbone got the final TD on a 3-yard run.
The defense carried the Seawolves the previous two seasons, and it looked as strong as ever. "After the 'miracle' TD play, it would have been easy to get down in the dumps," Quintin said. "But we were a top-three defense last year, and we have to repeat that."
Looking ahead to the big one Saturday, Quintin added, "New Hampshire is a perennial power, but this game showed us that even in the face of adversity, we can succeed."