TAMPA, Fla. — With his team a heavy underdog on the road against a ranked opponent, Stony Brook coach Chuck Priore knew the challenge the Seawolves faced Saturday against No. 19 South Florida.
And with 12 minutes left in the game, he had exactly what he’d hoped for.
“What I preach to our team and told anybody that asked is I want them to have to coach in the fourth quarter,” he said after the Seawolves’ 31-17 loss. “In the fourth quarter, I looked up, and it was 17-17, and they were coaching. I think that’s certainly something we played for, but we play for a win, also, and we didn’t get the win. At the end of the day, we didn’t succeed in our total goal.”
Stony Brook (0-1) led 10-7 at the half and gave the Bulls (2-0) a scare well into the fourth quarter. Quinton Flowers’ 65-yard touchdown pass to Tyre McCants with 11:23 left gave USF a 24-17 lead, and the Bulls added a touchdown in the final two minutes to escape with a win in their home opener.
“We’ve played two games and we’ve yet to play four quarters,” said USF coach Charlie Strong, whose team trailed 16-0 at San Jose State last week before winning, 42-22. “Last week, we didn’t wake up until the second quarter. This week, we didn’t really wake up until the fourth quarter.”
Stony Brook jumped ahead early. Andrew Trent (Bellport) blocked Jonathan Hernandez’s punt in the end zone and defensive back Augie Contressa (Commack) fell on the loose ball for a touchdown. Alex Lucansky’s 36-yard field goal gave the Seawolves a 10-7 lead at halftime.
The Bulls rallied to go ahead 17-10, but Stony Brook tied the score on a 54-yard run by Stacey Bedell (Mastic Beach, William Floyd) with 13:04 remaining in the fourth quarter.
USF regained the lead less than two minutes later, but the strong showing is something Priore said should give his team confidence against Stony Brook’s conference opponents this season.
“There’s always on the other side that they’re a little bit not respectful of who we are when you come out, but we’re a physical program,” he said. “We always have been. If you play the game physical and don’t try to froufrou it, you always have a chance to make them wake up. I think we played as physical, and they woke up. Wouldn’t you say so? They got woken up.”
The Seawolves played USF in the Bulls’ first game as an FBS program in 2010 and lost, 59-14. Stony Brook led 7-0 in that game as well.
Stony Brook’s defense stepped up in a big way Saturday, holding USF to 2-for-8 on third down in the first half and containing Flowers. He had only 34 passing yards and 34 rushing yards in the first half. Flowers finished with 186 passing yards and two touchdowns and 67 rushing yards.
“I thought today we were awful,” Strong said. “I didn’t think we played very well at all.”
Seawolves quarterback Joe Carbone threw for 137 yards but was intercepted twice in the final three minutes as Stony Brook tried to rally. Bedell ran for 71 yards on 10 carries.
Stony Brook linebacker Shayne Lawless led the charge defensively with 13 tackles and a sack, and defensive tackle Jordan Scarbrough had three tackles for loss.