Who would have believed Stony Brook could shake off a 38-point loss at Temple a week ago and wake up an offense that had produced one touchdown in two games against No. 2-ranked FCS power Richmond on Saturday afternoon at LaValle Stadium? Judging by a sparse crowd of 4,450, not many.
But SBU coach Chuck Priore kept the faith by telling his players to treat it like an FCS playoff game against a team that lost in the semifinals last year to champion North Dakota State. The Seawolves listened and rewarded their coach with a 42-14 upset that ranks as the biggest win in the school’s FCS history.
Stony Brook’s previous best against a ranked opponent was a win over No. 13 New Hampshire last year, but the Seawolves (2-1, 1-0) opened their fourth Colonial Athletic Association season by dominating the preseason favorite Spiders (2-1, 0-1), who earlier this season topped FBS Virginia of the ACC, 37-20.
Asked how his “playoff mentality” gambit helped the Seawolves maintain belief after the Temple shutout, Priore smiled and said: “I rolled the dice, to be honest. I asked the staff after I did it on Monday, ‘Do you think I [messed] this up if we lose?’
“My thought was our FCS record was 1-0, and we beat a 19th-ranked team [North Dakota in the opener]. I thought we had a good team. We didn’t show it last weekend, but I thought we’d be up for the challenge. We’ve got a very mentally tough group.”
Running back Stacey Bedell led the way on offense with 17 carries for 100 yards and four touchdowns, sophomore quarterback Joe Carbone completed 11 of 15 passes for 155 yards and one TD, and Stony Brook converted nine of 12 third-down plays. Sherman Alston Jr. returned the second-half kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown that restored a 28-14 lead after the Spiders pulled within a TD near the end of the second quarter.
On defense, Travon Reid-Segure, Chris Cooper and Tyrice Beverette had interceptions against Richmond quarterback Kyle Lauletta, who was 26-for-42 for 411 yards and one touchdown. The Seawolves allowed only 32 yards rushing, and Richmond converted only three of 11 chances on third and fourth down.
The Spiders jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead with Lauletta hitting Stephon Jacob with a 17-yard TD pass. But the Seawolves responded with 21 straight points, including Bedell runs of 2 and 49 yards before Carbone threw a 47-yard scoring pass to wideout Ray Bolden for a stunning 21-7 lead.
“We talked about it on the sideline,” Carbone said. “Ray told me they were playing cover two and the safety didn’t get off the hash [mark]. They ran the same coverage, and Ray was wide open.”
Richmond pulled within 21-14 on a 6-yard run by Xavier Goodall, but after driving to the Stony Brook 32 on the next possession, Lauletta was intercepted by Reid-Segure at the 10. Alston’s second-half kickoff return shifted the momentum back to Stony Brook.
“It was big-time,” Priore said of the transfer from Boston College. “When Sherman became available, we were interested because of his ability to impact the game with big plays. He’s fast.”
Cooper’s interception then led to a 1-yard run by Bedell for a 35-14 cushion. Lauletta drove the Spiders to a first down at the Stony Brook 9-yard line but threw his third interception to Beverette in the end zone under pressure from defensive lineman Ousmane Camara.
“We told each other all week that we’re not underdogs this game, we’re going to be overdogs,” Beverette said. “This is a good offense, and for us to hold them to 14 points is a big accomplishment.”
The Seawolves clinched it in the fourth quarter with an 8-yard touchdown run by Bedell after driving 80 yards in 16 plays, lasting 9:37.
“I looked at the scoreboard with 4 1⁄2 minutes left and it was 42-14, and I’m like, ‘Are we winning by that much? They need four touchdowns?’ ” Priore said. “That was exciting . . . It tells Stony Brook alumni and fans that we’re in the right direction.”
Stony Brook moved up to Football Championship Subdivision football (Division I-AA) in 1999 and first granted scholarships in 2006. Here are the five biggest games in that period:
1. Won vs. Richmond, 42-14, on Sept. 17, 2016 — Blowout victory over No. 2-ranked Spiders is first against a top 10 team.
2. Won at Army, 23-3, on Sept. 29, 2012 — First victory over a Football Bowl Subdivision team (Division I-A).
3. Won vs. Villanova, 20-10, on Nov. 24, 2012 — Second-ever FCS playoff victory came versus top team from prestigious Colonial Athletic Association.
4. Won vs. Liberty, 41-31, on Nov. 19, 2011 — Was eighth straight win after 0-3 start, gave Seawolves Big South title and first-ever FCS playoff bid.
5. Lost at UTEP, 31-24, in OT on Sept. 3, 2011 — Despite loss, Seawolves led, 24-10, competed well in second-ever game versus an FBS team.