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Stony Brook falls to Southeast Missouri State in FCS playoff game

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. — The Stony Brook football team spent the first half building up a 14-point lead. It took less than five minutes for that hard-earned advantage to evaporate.

The Seawolves turned the ball over three times in the third quarter and Southeast Missouri State got on a winning roll with 28 unanswered points. Behind that offensive explosion, SEMO beat Stony Brook, 28-14, in a Football Championship Subdivision first-round playoff game Saturday at Houck Field.

“At the end of the day, they deserved to win the game,” Stony Brook coach Chuck Priore said. “There’s a period in the third quarter that I would like to go away, wake up and be the fourth quarter or the first quarter again.”

The Seawolves (7-5) had 404 yards of offense to SEMO’s 240. All four Redhawk scoring drives started in Stony Brook territory.

Coming out of halftime with that 14-0 lead, SBU received the ball with a chance to take a three-possession lead.  Instead, Justin Swift came up with an interception off a tipped pass. SEMO quarterback Daniel Santacaterina did the rest with a 16-yard touchdown run, the first of the Redhawks’ four straight TD drives in the third quarter.

SEMO (9-3) entered the game first in the nation with a plus-23 turnover margin and generated four more turnovers Saturday.

“It’s one of those scenarios where what could go wrong went wrong all together at one time,” Priore said. “That was a little of who they’ve been all year.”

A 5-yard touchdown pass from Santacaterina to Kristian Wilkerson tied the score less than five minutes into the second half, and SEMO took the lead on a 9-yard touchdown pass from Santacaterina to Jerrick Orr with 7:44 left in the third quarter. A fumble led to the final Redhawks touchdown, a 38-yard pass from Santacaterina to Wilkerson.

By the end of the third quarter, Stony Brook’s 14-point lead had turned into a 14-point deficit and starting quarterback Joe Carbone was out injured. He finished 15-for-27 passing for 211 yards with a touchdown and three turnovers.

“SEMO’s a good team,” said SBU receiver Julius Wingate, who had eight catches for 143 yards. “They adjusted from the first half to the second half. They just made plays out there, really.”

The Seawolves allowed 103 yards of offense as the Redhawks were held scoreless in the first half for the first time all season.

After a fumble by Carbone ended a promising drive in the first quarter, the Seawolves got on the board with Donald Liotine’s 2-yard touchdown run with 6:37 left in the second quarter. A 36-yard touchdown pass to Wingate gave Stony Brook that 14-0 halftime lead.

“I loved how our football team decided to respond,” SEMO coach Tom Matukewicz said. “I thought they lost their composure a little bit, got some stupid penalties.”

Stony Brook had seven penalties for 59 yards compared to SEMO’s four for 30 yards.

After advancing to the second round in last year’s playoffs, Stony Brook came up short this time around. The program is 3-4 in four postseason appearances.

“We’ve been in the playoffs two years in a row,” Priore said. “We’ve won some big games. Through the first half of today, we played Stony Brook football. When the game was over, would I like to play another half? Absolutely. But they don’t let me make that decision.”

New York Sports