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Stony Brook playing its best football in close games

Stony Brook running back Donald Liotine  against Albany at

Stony Brook running back Donald Liotine  against Albany at LaValle Stadium on Nov. 4, 2017. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Just one play in a game can dramatically shift the course of a football team’s season. Stony Brook’s success this season can be measured by its record in close games — the outcomes of which might have changed on one play.

The Seawolves, ranked No. 12 in the FCS Stats rankings and No. 15 in the Coaches Poll, are 4-1 in games decided by seven points or less, including two straight victories, the most recent a 28-21 overtime win over Albany at home last Saturday.

Last season, Stony Brook was 2-3 in one-score games, with the two wins coming during its 5-2 start. But the Seawolves lost their final four games — the final three coming by one score.

But with a healthy quarterback Joe Carbone, who coach Chuck Priore revealed after last week’s win had actually started four games in 2016 with a shoulder injury, the Seawolves have the 2017 postseason in their sights.

“We work hard,” Priore said. “You don’t ever deserve to win because you work hard but you like to see things happen for good people and this team is a bunch of good people that stay focused.”

Stony Brook (7-2, 6-1 Colonial) hosts Wagner (3-6) in non-conference play Saturday at 1 p.m. at LaValle Stadium. A victory should all but secure one of the 24 spots in the FCS playoffs for the Seawolves, and they could put themselves in the discussion for one of the eight first-round byes by winning their final two games.

Stony Brook’s offensive line did a solid job last week protecting Carbone. Jonathan Haynes made his first start at left tackle, and Priore also credited the play of Jackson Miller at right tackle. Haynes replaced second-team All-America and NFL prospect Timon Parris, a Floral Park native, who fractured his fibula Oct. 28 vs. Richmond and will miss the rest of the season.

Saturday is Senior Day for 19 Stony Brook seniors who have helped the Seawolves forge the 13th-best red-zone offense in FCS, scoring in 88.2 percent of their possessions. The defense ranks 17th in total defense, allowing 310 yards per game.

New York Sports