HAMILTON, N.Y. -- Moving up to the Colonial Athletic Association, Stony Brook faced a schedule front-loaded with league favorites Villanova and Towson, along with FBS opponent Buffalo, and the Seawolves were rocked in the early rounds of the season on the way to a 1-3 start.
But they're off the canvas now after winning their second straight in dominant fashion, beating Colgate, 27-3, in a non-conference game Saturday night at Andy Kerr Stadium. Now they're back to .500 at 3-3 with their bye week coming at the perfect time to allow them to rest up for a playoff push over the final five CAA games.
"You never know how a team is going to come back after losing," said running back Jameel Poteat, who scored two touchdowns, rushed for 54 yards on 10 carries and caught three passes for 20 yards. "You never know how they're going to respond. But we're on a little roll now, and I feel we can finish the way we want."
Colgate came into the game without injured starting quarterback Gavin McCarney (knee) and starting running back Jimmy DeCicco (foot), but the Raiders got no sympathy from a Seawolves team that added wide receiver Devante Wheeler (fractured ankle) to its long list of injuries before the game.
No doubt, McCarney's absence was a factor, but Stony Brook smothered the Red Raiders (1-5) of the Patriot League on defense. The Seawolves held Colgate to 219 total yards and forced two turnovers leading to 10 points, including a 52-yard interception return by safety Naim Cheeseboro just before halftime for a 24-0 lead.
Colgate quarterback Jake Melville completed only 7 of 19 passes for 106 yards and was sacked three times.
The Raiders did not have a first down in the opening quarter, didn't run a play in Stony Brook territory until 13:15 was left in the game and managed only a late 38-yard field goal by Jonah Bowman after a fourth-down defensive holding penalty kept the drive alive.
"We had a good game plan, and them not having their starting quarterback helped," said coach Chuck Priore, who recorded his 50th win in eight seasons at Stony Brook against 37 losses. "The kids were on top of everything and made plays. Cheeseboro's interception seal- ed it."
Priore was equally pleased with an offense that scored three of the first four times it had the ball and totaled 351 yards.
Quarterback Lyle Negron completed 18 of 30 passes for 196 yards and had one interception. Tight end Will Tye was the leading receiver with eight catches for 70 yards, and James Kenner added a team-high 70 yards rushing on 12 carries.
"Our first quarter was awesome," Priore said. "We came out and scored on our first drive for the third straight game. We muscled them."
The Seawolves were 3-for-3 on third down in the opening 70-yard drive, which ended with Poteat's 7-yard TD run.
Moments later, linebacker Jawara Dudley recovered a fumble at the Raiders' 31. That set up a 40-yard field goal by Graham Ball, who later missed one from 46 in the third quarter but converted from 32 yards in the final period.
Another Seawolves drive of 70 yards in nine plays ended with Poteat scoring on a 5-yard run for a 17-0 lead thanks to a dominant offensive line.
"We came out of the gates firing," Poteat said. "Our defense played great, and we put them in a good situation by scoring early."
When Cheeseboro read a sideline throw by Melville and scored on the pickoff with 2:08 left in the half, the Seawolves were in complete control.
"I got a good jump on the route," Cheeseboro said. "I felt I was in great position, and I took it to the house."
Now the Seawolves can look forward to their bye week.
"At the start of the year, 3-3 wasn't acceptable, but with all our injuries, we're starting to play 60-minute games," safety Christian Ricard said. "This was exactly what we needed with the heart of the CAA schedule coming up."