Down to the final play of the regular-season finale, Stony Brook quarterback Joe Carbone placed all his trust in Harrison Jackson.
And Carbone was rewarded.
Jackson ripped down a 35-yard jump ball in the front right corner of the end zone among multiple defenders, holding on to an improbable winning touchdown as time expired in SBU’s 20-19 stunner at Maine on Saturday.
Pandemonium ensued, with the Seawolves (9-2, 7-1 Colonial Athletic Association) frantically sprinting to the end zone to rejoice. A video review momentarily brought the occasion to a halt, but upon confirmation of the touchdown, the celebration resumed.
“Just to be out there and for Joe to trust in me to throw the ball to me, I’m just graciously blessed,” Jackson said. “Honestly, I just saw the ball and knew I had to just go up and get it.”
Jackson’s winning catch completed a 73-yard drive that began with only 31 seconds remaining. Jackson drew a pass-interference penalty on the first play. Following an incomplete pass to Jackson, Carbone hit Donavin Washington for 23 yards to the Bears’ 35 and spiked the ball with six seconds left before finding Jackson to end it.
“We practice it every Thursday,” said Carbone, who completed 11 of 34 passes for 222 yards and two touchdowns. “Harrison outjumped everyone by about three feet. That’s why he caught the ball.”
“Games are won as complete games,” Stony Brook coach Chuck Priore said. “You always preach to the kids ‘Play to the last tick of the clock.’ ”
A 10-yard touchdown carry off left tackle by Donald Liotine put Stony Brook on the board at 12-7 with 3:08 remaining in the first half. Maine (4-6, 3-5) responded 43 seconds later with a 59-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Chris Ferguson to Jared Osumah to take a 12-point edge at halftime.
The Seawolves gave themselves a chance at a comeback on Carbone’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Washington with 10:46 left in the fourth, cutting the deficit to 19-14.
Between Carbone’s 23 incompletions and SBU’s 67 total rushing yards, generating offense was a struggle for much of the day. Leading receiver Ray Bolden, who has 68 catches for 791 yards and nine touchdowns this season, exited the game in the second quarter with an ankle injury.
Bolden was knocked out of last Saturday’s victory over Wagner with a concussion following a vicious helmet-to-helmet collision.
Entering Sunday’s selection show for the 24-team FCS playoffs, Priore displayed zero concern, confidently stating “We’re in.” The Seawolves entered the day ranked No. 10 in STATS FCS and No. 12 in the coaches’ poll.
“We know we have a lot of work to do and we’re excited to practice tomorrow night,” Carbone said.
As he did on the final play, Carbone emphasized one significant factor.
“We just trusted the process and each other,” Carbone said. “We have trust in each other and it paid off in the end.”