Many of the names and faces have changed. The winning ways have not.
Stony Brook, on a quest for a third straight trip to the FCS playoffs, opened the season by overwhelming Bryant, 35-10, before 9,652 at LaValle Stadium on Thursday night.
The Seawolves replaced a number of skill players on offense and several key players on special teams this season, but they showed this clearly is no rebuilding year. Shaky in the first quarter, Stony Brook clearly was the superior team in the final three quarters of the romp.
No question for the Seawolves was bigger than how newly anointed starting quarterback Tyquell Fields would fare this season after taking over for longtime starter Joe Carbone.
He had some tough moments early — dropping the first snap of the season for a 5-yard loss and fumbling at the Bryant 2 — but he finished impressively. Fields completed 10 of 20 passes for 194 yards and one touchdown and rushed for 52 yards and another score.
“I think it was just like jitters, to be honest,” Fields said. “It was our first time . . . being in a game situation and we just got comfortable as the game went on and we just started clicking.”
Fields is a much bigger rushing threat than the pocket-passing Carbone, and he showed himself capable of throwing a very deep ball with a 50-yard connection to Nick Anderson and a 47-yarder to Andrew Trent. The throws weren’t perfect — each ended with a diving catch — but his arm is considerable.
“I feel like I can make every throw on the field, but the long ball is definitely something I like,” he said.
Just as impressive is how Fields found his confidence in the second quarter and engineered four touchdown drives in a span of six possessions before being lifted for Connetquot High product Jack Cassidy early in the fourth quarter.
The first two SBU drives after halftime went 82 yards for Fields’ 1-yard score and 80 yards for an 8-yard touchdown pass from Fields to Peter McKenzie.
“I saw him step up to the plate and keep his poise, especially after the first couple [of possessions] when we had our hiccups,” senior tailback Isaiah White said. “He came and was a field general . . . I was really proud of him, really happy he stepped to the plate and did what we needed to do to win the game.”
Perhaps the second-biggest question was about how the running attack would suffer with the loss of 1,000-yard rushers Donald Liotine and Jordan Gowins. It looked capable as well, rolling up 247 yards and three touchdowns with converted linebacker White, Ty Son Lawton and Fields each taking a share. White rushed for 54 yards and scored on runs of 1 and 8 yards. Lawton had 11 carries for 49 yards.
The one area in which there were no doubts coming in was the Stony Brook defense, which returned eight starters on a unit that ranked 12th in the FCS last season in scoring defense. Synceir Malone returned an interception 22 yards for SBU’s first score and Elijah Duff had the interception and 49-yard return that preceded Fields’ goal-line fumble.
SNY to air Seawolves. SNY will air five Stony Brook home football games this season and at least the men’s basketball home opener against Yale after the two announced an agreement on Thursday. The first football telecast will be the Sept. 14 game against Wagner at 6 p.m. The men’s basketball game is Nov. 5.