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Stony Brook defense sets tone on first play in easy victory

URI quarterback Tyler Harris recovers a fumbled snap

URI quarterback Tyler Harris recovers a fumbled snap before Stony Brook's Tyrice Beverette. Sept. 9, 2017. Credit: The Providence Journal / Glenn Osmundson

The Stony Brook football team came out swinging.

Defensive back Darin Peart forced a fumble and Josh Valentin recovered on the game’s first play from scrimmage, and three plays later, Stacey Bedell scored from 5 yards for an early lead.

The Seawolves never trailed, capitalizing on host Rhode Island’s mistakes and winning, 35-18, in Colonial Athletic Association play Saturday.

“That’s what our bread and butter is,” said wide receiver Ray Bolden, who hauled in 10 passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns. “Those are the guys . . . that can come back and make a play and slow an offense down. It’s nothing new at all. We see this every day at practice.”

Bolden caught a 10-yard slant for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead late in the first and scored from 9 yards midway through the third quarter for a 21-0 lead. Quarterback Joe Carbone completed 14 of 23 passes for a career-high 184 yards and two touchdowns.

The defense stepped up again in the third quarter after Rhode Island scored a touchdown and cut the Seawolves’ lead to 21-7. Rhode Island’s Jose Duncan forced a fumble at the SBU 46 and returned it 41 yards to the 5-yard line. But URI gained just 1 yard on the drive and had to settle for a field goal.

“We got some breaks early that we capitalized on,” head coach Chuck Priore said. “We had the two fumbles and they capitalized on one for a field goal.”

Donald Liotine and Bedell ran in touchdowns two minutes apart in the fourth quarter, the latter giving the Seawolves their largest lead at 35-10 with 7:56 remaining. Rhode Island tacked on a late touchdown and two-point conversion for the final.

Stony Brook’s effectiveness through the air and on the ground came after the Seawolves struggled in their opening-week loss against then-No. 19 South Florida. Priore said Wednesday that the difference against USF, a game in which the teams were tied at 17-17 with a little more than 13 minutes left to play, came down to the execution of a few plays.

Their consistency was much better in Week 2, according to Bolden.

“The biggest difference was execution,” he said. “It was definitely a handful of plays that made a difference. It was those game-turning plays that we made and they didn’t make. They weren’t punching it in.”

Rhode Island outgained Stony Brook, 365-302, but the Seawolves’ defense stood out as the Rams’ drives continued. Noah McGinty made 11 tackles, John Haggart made nine and Tyrice Beverette and Josh Valentin made sacks for a unit that put constant pressure on the Rams backfield.

That same unit held South Florida to 3.1 yards per carry and 186 yards passing last week, and it’s clear even in Week 2 that the defense will be the Seawolves’ backbone this season.

The offense was efficient, though, and Priore praised the special teams and coverage units. Priore said this is the type of effort to build on.

“When you win, it’s a lot easier to prepare,” he said. “Hopefully, they understand that we need to continue to work on the fundamentals.”

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