Chuck Priore took a breath then pursed his lips and smiled wryly.
His was the face of lament.
And with good reason.
“We had about a bad seven minutes in a row,” Priore said after Stony Brook’s 31-14 loss to Towson Saturday afternoon at LaValle Stadium. “That’s been a little bit of our Achilles heel to be honest with you.”
Which could cost them a FCS playoff berth.
Stony Brook (5-5, 2-4) has lost four of its last five games, and the Seawolves have two games remaining in the regular season. While the Seawolves were not mathematically eliminated from the FCS playoffs with the loss to the Tigers, they likely have to win their remaining two games, Nov. 16 at Delaware and Nov. 23 against Albany.
“I don’t know who won or lost this week,” Priore said. “But I’ll say this to you: We’ve got to get off the mat and play well against a good Delaware team.”
A strong start against the Blue Hens would aid their cause. Against Towson, the Seawolves trailed 17-7 at halftime.
Towson opened the scoring with Aidan O’Neill’s 29-yard field goal with 40 seconds left in the first quarter. The slim lead held until Tyquell Fields connected with Nick Anderson for a 44-yard catch-and-run touchdown with 7:19 left in the second quarter to cap off a five-play, 80-yard drive. Towson responded with touchdown runs by Shane Leatherbury (12-yard sprint off tackle) and Yeedee Thaenrat (one-yard plunge) on its next two possessions to go into the half with the 10-point advantage.
Stony Brook had six first-half possessions with the Fields-Anderson connection being the only drive to end with points. The remaining five possessions saw the Seawolves punt three times, another drive ended when Fields had a pass picked off in the end zone by Jeremiah Wynn, and the half coming to an end after Stony Brook gained 26 yards on five plays.
“We had so many opportunities,” said Anderson, who set a career high with 205 receiving yards. He became the fifth player in school history to have a 200-yard receiving game, and he finished just 11 yards shy of the school’s single-game record. Anderson also caught two touchdown passes to record his first career multi-touchdown catch effort.
“There’s [a] confidence factor of knowing that we have explosive (players) and explosive plays,” Anderson said. “ Just, you know, the scoreboard didn't reflect those plays.”
Whereas the Tigers finished the first half with two touchdown drives, the Seawolves offense spent much of the first two quarters on the sidelines. Stony Brook only had nine minutes of possession in the first half, compared to Towson’s 21 minutes.
The Seawolves finished with 20:52 of possession time, compared to 39:08 for Towson.
“You’re not going to win when you don’t have the ball,” Priore said.
Tom Flacco hit Leatherbury on a 12-yard post corner route for a touchdown on the Tigers’ first possession of the second half which made SBU's deficit grow to 24-7. Fields and Anderson combined for a two-yard touchdown connection of the game with 2:27 left in the third to cut Towson’s lead to 24-14.
Fields completed 13-of-35 passes for 241 yards and two touchdowns, but was picked off three times. He did lead the Seawolves with 77 yards on seven carries.
Any hopes for a come-from-behind win were dashed when Flacco, the younger brother of Denver Broncos quarterback Joe Flacco, hit Darien Street for a 68-yard catch-and-run touchdown early in the fourth quarter. On the play, Flacco moved up in the pocket before hitting Street over the middle. Street then outraced Seawolves defenders to give the Tigers their second three-score lead of the game.