It was just a week earlier that Stony Brook fans watched gleefully as the Seawolves pulled a major upset over then-No. 2-ranked Richmond in a 28-point blowout. But the shoe was on the other foot Saturday night at LaValle Stadium as undefeated Sacred Heart of the Northeast Conference came in an upended No. 20/24 Stony Brook in disappointing fashion, 38-10.
The Seawolves (2-2) committed three turnovers that led to 17 points by the Pioneers (4-0), and they were held scoreless in the second half when they controlled the ball for only 10:33, gained just 77 yards and were 0-for-5 on third down.
All three turnovers were committed by SBU quarterback Joe Carbone, who completed only 8 of 21 passes, was sacked three times, fumbled once and threw two interceptions, including one that was returned 44 yards by Sacred Heart linebacker Kevin Barry for the game’s final touchdown.
Stony Brook coach Chuck Priore challenged his team to do a better job of respecting its opponent than Richmond did in a 42-14 loss that vaulted the Seawolves to No. 20 in the STATS poll and No. 24 in the FCS coaches poll. But it didn’t happen.
“Sacred Heart beat us really good,” Priore said. “I was very impressed with how they performed. We didn’t have our ‘A’ game, and we’ll have to figure out why . . . Hopefully, we can put this one in the closet and move forward.”
Although Sacred Heart relied primarily on the running game in its first three wins, Pioneers quarterback RJ Noel came out throwing early and completed 20 of 28 passes for 205 yards and one touchdown. Ose Imeokparia led SHU with 60 yards rushing on 13 carries, but Noel added 55 yards on 12 carries, rushed for two touchdowns and was effective on the option.
Noel scored on a 1-yard run for an early 7-0 lead, but Stony Brook built a 10-7 lead on a 3-yard TD run by Stacey Bedell and a 27-yard field goal by Przemyslaw Popek. But two turnovers changed the complexion of the game.
Carbone fumbled at midfield with 49 seconds left in the half, and Sacred Heart turned it into a tying 33-yard field goal by Alec Finney. Early in the third quarter, Carbone was pressured into an ill-advised pass that was intercepted by Khaamal Whitaker at the SBU 29 to set up a 1-yard run by Noel for a 17-10 lead.
“I think I need to play better,” Carbone said. Speaking of his first interception, he added: “That was one of the turning points of the game. I should have thrown it away. They’re a real ly good team, but they didn’t get our best shot.”
Even when the Seawolves had good field position, they couldn’t generate much offense. Bedell led SBU with 62 yards rushing on 14 carries, but the Seawolves totaled only 241 yards offense.
“We just laid down,” Bedell said. “We have to bounce back from our mistakes.”
Normally, Stony Brook’s defense provides the backbone, but Sacred Heart’s Noel deconstructed the Seawolves on a 95-yard scoring drive that took 14 plays before Jay Croom rushed from a yard out for a 24-10 lead. Then a 54-yard punt return by Andrew O’Neill to the Stony Brook 29 set up a 14-yard scoring pass from Noel to Moses Webb that put the game out of reach at 31-10.
“They’re a good offense, and they do amazing things,” rover Tyrice Beverette said of the Pioneers. “We were messing up our keys. It’s an offense we don’t see too much during the year . . . They did a good job attacking us with the run-pass option. It’s very hard to stop.”
If there was a silver lining for the Seawolves, it’s that it was a non-conference loss, and they have a bye week before playing seven Colonial Athletic Association games after their 1-0 league start. “Nobody is going to lay down,” Beverette said. “Our goals are still in front of us.”