Before the Stony Brook football season started, coach Chuck Priore said he wanted to see more consistency out of starting quarterback Joe Carbone.
Saturday night, he got exactly what he wished for.
With the rushing attack struggling for the Seawolves, Priore had to rely more on Carbone’s right arm and he delivered. He completed 22 of 30 passes for 242 yards and found seven different receivers in Stony Brook’s 25-17 victory over Towson at LaValle Stadium.
It was the first time that Carbone — who started the first nine games of last season as a junior before a season-ending shoulder injury — threw for more than 200 yards. It was also his career-high in completions.
“I think he’s dialed in,” Priore said. “He did a lot of this himself.”
Carbone also helped orchestrate a seven-play, 45-yard drive culminating with a 1-yard touchdown pass to Harrison Jackson with 11 seconds remaining in the first half to give the Seawolves a 16-10 lead.
Stony Brook (3-1, 2-0 CAA) outgained Towson 241-173 before the break, largely in part to Carbone’s 196 yards through the air. Stony Brook averaged 2.25 yards per rush compared to Towson’s 5.7, but Donavin Washington’s six receptions for 48 yards and Ray Bolden’s four receptions for 81 yards helped counteract the rushing struggles.
After completing nearly 52 percent of his attempts last season, Carbone has been much more efficient with his throws this season. He entered Saturday completing nearly 57 percent of his passes.
He’s also made more of an effort to spread the ball around to his receivers, whereas last season Bolden caught nearly 40 percent of Carbone’s completions.
“He’s running our game plan,” Priore said. “He’s not forcing it anywhere.”
But in the game’s biggest moments, Bolden is still a safety blanket.
“When in doubt, look for Ray,” Carbone said with a smile.
The two connected on a 24-yard touchdown to tie the score at 7 with 3:43 left in the first quarter. On a third-and-12, Carbone found Bolden for a 40-yard gain to the 10-yard line to set up Alex Lucansky’s 21-yard field goal to tie the score at 10 with 11:44 left in the second quarter. Looking to control the clock and extend the lead in the fourth quarter, Bolden reeled in a 24-yard reception during a drive resulting in Lucansky’s 26-yard field goal to make it 22-17 with 9:06 remaining.
“Me and Ray have been playing together for a while and we have a lot of practice [time] together and I hope it shows on the field,” Carbone said. “We’ve put in a lot of hours so it’s about time it starts paying off.”
Bolden finished with eight catches for a career-high 125 yards and a touchdown.
“I’ve been saying since winter workouts I trust Joe and I know Joe trusts me,” Bolden said. “Really it’s nothing new, things are just kind of happening for us now. The only difference is the execution.”
It wasn’t all Carbone leading the Seawolves, as the defense had a key stop on fourth-and-1 at the Seawolves’ 44-yard line with five minutes remaining. Defensive tackle Jordan Scarbrough recovered a fumble and Stony Brook took over at Towson’s 33-yard line following a block-in-the-back penalty.
“It was just the energy coming out there,” said defensive back Tyrice Beverette, who chipped in with eight tackles. “Instead of crumbling with our backs against the wall, fourth-and-1, we tell each other ‘This is what we live for.’ ”
Stacey Bedell, who ran for 65 yards on 15 carries, and Donald Liotine (67 yards on 13 carries), helped the Seawolves run down the clock on their final possession, which resulted in Lucansky’s fourth field goal and a 25-17 lead with 1:44 remaining.
Towson (2-2, 0-1) had the game’s first score when Kobe Young’s 2-yard touchdown run on third down capped off a 67-yard drive with 7:13 remaining in the first quarter. A 29-yard field goal by the Tigers tied it at 10 in the second quarter. It was set up by a 73-yard catch-and-run on the second play of the drive, with the Seawolves’ Chris Cooper making a touchdown-saving tackle at the 2-yard line late in the first quarter.