The fourth quarter had been disastrous for the Stony Brook football team in recent weeks. But it didn’t take long for the Seawolves to reverse their fortunes Saturday.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Stony Brook defensive back Gavin Heslop hit New Hampshire quarterback Trevor Knight, jarring the ball loose and it was recovered by Keegan Henderson at the New Hampshire 2-yard line.
After the Seawolves were stuffed on two rush attempts following the turnover, quarterback Joe Carbone found Ray Bolden, his favorite target, on third-and-goal from the 2 with a fade in the right corner of the end zone to take a four-point lead with 13:37 remaining in the game.
Stony Brook continued its fourth-quarter dominance from there, resulting in a 38-24 victory over No. 12 New Hampshire on homecoming at LaValle Stadium in Colonial Athletic Association football in front of 12,311, the highest-attended game in stadium history.
On his big play, Heslop said he wasn’t supposed to be in the vicinity. “It actually wasn’t a blitz,” Heslop said. “I was supposed to get back in coverage but I saw him play-action, so I was like, ‘I’m already here, I may as well keep going.’ If I didn’t get it, coach would be mad at me”
The Seawolves’ defense pitched a shutout in the second half, allowing only one first down by UNH.
“They took it personal and they showed it today,” SBU coach Chuck Priore said of the defensive unit. “I think just holding them to one first down in the second half is an amazing thing.”
It was the second-largest victory over a ranked opponent in SBU football history, the best since defeating No. 2 Richmond last season.
Stony Brook (5-2, 4-1) held New Hampshire to 50 yards in the fourth quarter and Travon Reid-Segure reeled in an interception to set up Stony Brook’s final score, after surrendering 273 yards in the first half.
The Seawolves’ offense led with a strong running game, with Stacey Bedell going for 157 yards on 19 carries and a touchdown and Donald Liotine adding 63 yards and two scores on 18 carries.
“They were big yards, they were big plays that changed field position” Priore said of Bedell and the running game.
Bedell said: “It’s a great feeling to . . . see a lot of fans. It definitely brings a different type of energy. It definitely pumps up a player more to see that.
“Everybody did their jobs well. The tight end, offensive line, everybody blocked great and they paved the way.”
New Hampshire (4-2, 2-1 led 24-16 at halftime before Stony Brook broke out in the second half. The Seawolves had the lone score of the third quarter, with Liotine capping off a 14-play, 83-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run with 6:42 remaining in the quarter. Liotine added an 8-yard touchdown run with 8:42 remaining in the game to extend Stony Brook’s lead to 35-24.
New Hampshire had three field goals and two touchdowns as Knight threw for 267 of his 373 yards in the first half.
Stony Brook initially tied the score at 3 with a 34-yard field goal by Alex Lucansky, set up by Liotine’s kick return to the 50-yard line.
After another Wildcats field goal, running back Stacey Bedell broke a 63-yard touchdown run up the middle with 2:47 left in the first quarter to take a 9-6 lead after a missed extra point for the final score of the opening quarter. Bedell finished the first half with 108 yards on five carries.
But Joe Carbone, who struggled in the first half completing 8 of 20 passes and throwing his first interception in a span of 134 attempts, perfectly placed a ball into the arms of Harrison Jackson for a 28-yard touchdown to cut New Hampshire’s lead to 17-16 with 3:38 left. The score was set up when Noah McGinty forced a fumble by Knight, which was recovered by Ousmane Camara at the SBU 48-yard line.
New Hampshire responded with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Knight to Nick Lorden with 1:41 remaining in the first half to take a 24-16 lead into halftime.
But the Stony Brook defense allowed few opportunities for New Hampshire to generate offense in the second half, led by Camara and John Haggart (two sacks) causing havoc on the defensive line and Shayne Lawless (two sacks), Chris Cooper and McGinty on defense.