Stony Brook ran a fade pattern last season, dropping its final four games. But the 2017 Seawolves have flashed some encouraging signs in what will be a bid to sustain success from one side of the season to the other.
After splitting their first two games, they played their home opener last night at LaValle Stadium against a Sacred Heart team that won big here last year.
But it was Stony Brook winning big here this year.
Joe Carbone threw for a career-high three touchdowns, the running game churned out 294 yards, the defense yielded only 206 and the special teams blocked two punts in a 45-7 victory — the most points by the Seawolves since the 2012 season.
“The thing I’m pleased with most is our work ethic from Sunday to Friday, our preparation and our focus,” said coach Chuck Priore, who saw a 5-2 start in 2016 devolve into a 5-6 finish. “Their leadership is tremendous.”
This victory followed a 35-18 win at Rhode Island and a 31-17 loss at then-No. 19 South Florida, although that game was tied with 12 minutes left.
“Our mental approach — that’s been the biggest thing for us,” senior receiver Ray Bolden said. “We started that as soon as the season ended last year. Winter workouts, we were competing . . . Everybody is holding each other accountable.”
The final score certainly was satisfying for the Seawolves after their 38-10 loss to Sacred Heart last year.
“To sit here and say it doesn’t feel any better because it’s them, that would be a lie,” Bolden said.
The Pioneers’ punt team made a big difference for Stony Brook. Sacred Heart was stopped on its first possession at the Seawolves’ 47. Ryan O’Dowd then dropped the ball and his knee touched the turf after he regained possession, negating his punt. So instead of starting at its own 15, Stony Brook began at the Sacred Heart 38.
Six plays later, Carbone scrambled left, eluded a sack attempt and fired to tight end Cal Daniels near the back of the end zone for the touchdown.
After the Pioneers (2-1) went three-and-out, fourth down again didn’t go so well. EJ Fineran blocked O’Dowd’s punt and Seba Nekhet recovered the ball in the end zone. It was 14-0 with just 7:11 gone.
Ose Imeokparia scored from the 1 for Sacred Heart with 3:55 left in the first quarter, but after Darin Peart intercepted Kevin Duke’s pass, Carbone fired a 7-yard strike to Donavin Washington with 10:09 remaining in the second quarter.
After the Pioneers went three-and out, Gary Casab had his punt deflected by Commack’s Augie Contressa. Washington grabbed the ball at his 48 and ran to the Sacred Heart 47. Seven plays later, Carbone found Bolden in the end zone for a 25-yard score.
Stacey Bedell, the senior tailback from Mastic Beach, soon raced for a 52-yard touchdown that gave Stony Brook a 35-7 halftime lead. Bellport’s Jordan Gowins ran for a 10-yard touchdown in the third quarter and Alex Lucansky drilled a 43-yard field goal in the fourth.
“If they keep playing like that,” Pioneers coach Mark Nofri said, “I think they’ll be at the top of the CAA.”