It is always homecoming at Stony Brook University for Stacey Bedell, the 2011 Hansen Award-winning running back from Floyd High School. He leads the team in rushing and, most likely, ticket requests from family and friends who want to see him perform for the Seawolves.
On Saturday night, it seemed as if the record crowd of 12,221 at LaValle Stadium were all there to see Bedell. It certainly appeared that way from the roar they produced when he scored the Seawolves’ first touchdown in a 14-3 Colonial Athletic Association victory over Rhode Island. Stony Brook improved to 4-2, 3-0 in the CAA. Rhode Island is 1-6, 0-4.
“You walk out on the field, you see a bunch of people there supporting you,’’ Bedell said. “It gives you a lot of energy and makes you feel better as a player and makes you want to perform.’’
Bedell rushed 26 times for 138 yards and now has 475. Teammate Jordan Gowins (Bellport, St. Anthony’s), who scored the Seawolves’ second touchdown, carried 21 times for 108 yards.
There wasn’t much for the crowd to get excited about as URI brought a 3-0 lead into the fourth quarter. Justin Rohr wasser’s 32-yard field goal with 2:15 left in the first quarter was holding up as Stony Brook kicker Przemyslaw Popek had two field goals blocked — from 39 yards in the second quarter and 38 yards with 11 seconds left in the third quarter.
Coach Chuck Priore did not think his team would be shut out. “At halftime, I told them we were going to find a way to win, I don’t care if it’s 4-3,’’ he said.
The defense was doing its job, led by Tyrice Beverette, who had 10 solo tackles, assisted on another and recorded one sack and a forced fumble. Not having the Stony Brook offense score for three quarters did not matter.
“It’s not pressure. We want to see where we are as a defense,’’ Beverette said. “We want to overcome adversity. Everybody’s happy when they’re up, you know? You see who the best defense is when their backs are against the wall.’’
Boston College transfer Sherman Alston Jr. played a key role on the first touchdown by returning a punt 28 yards to the URI 36 with 12:44 left in the fourth quarter.
“We just needed to get in great field position,’’ he said. “I have confidence in my offense that we were going to get it going. I was just doing my job.’’
Alston had given the Seawolves good field position earlier, but the drives fizzled. Not this time.
“We know that he’s a dangerous returner,’’ Bedell said, “that he can make a play at any given time of the game. It helped us get the flow going, the crowd going.”
In rapid succession, Bedell and Gowins took care of business. Gowins rushed for 11 and 6 yards on the first two plays from scrimmage, Bedell totaled 18 on the next three. He then scored on a 1-yard run, to the delight of the homecoming crowd.
After the defense held URI, it was Gowins’ turn. His 2-yard touchdown run capped an eight-play, 56-yard drive and gave Stony Brook a 14-3 lead.
But it was Bedell who owned the night when he scored his team’s first points of the game.
“That whole drive, we were pushing the ball, pounding the ball,’’ he said. “That touchdown sparked our team.’’