It was the kind of rain-soaked night at LaValle Stadium that was fit for neither man nor beast, but the weather conditions were perfect for Stony Brook to get back to what it does best -- run the football.
The Seawolves totaled 300 yards rushing and got 100-yard games from Stacey Bedell and James Kenner on their way to a 20-3 victory over American International on Saturday night.
The rain rendered the quarterback rotation between John Kinder and Conor Bednarski a footnote as the passing game produced a mere 26 yards, but it refreshed the running game and an offense that produced only 19 points in two opening losses.
Bedell broke a 72-yard touchdown run in the second quarter to ignite the offense. When he limped off the field with a minor third-quarter injury, he had 130 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 12 carries.
Kenner, who had languished at No. 4 on the depth chart after leading the Seawolves (1-2) in rushing last season, came off the bench to carry 10 times for 102 yards and a touchdown.
It was the most rushing yards by the Seawolves since they totaled 263 yards in an FCS playoff win over Villanova on Nov. 24, 2012, and the first time they had two running backs with 100 yards in the same game since then. Bedell's 72-yard touchdown was the fifth-longest in the school's Division I history and the longest run since a 71-yard TD by Miguel Maysonet on Sept. 15, 2012, at Syracuse.
"That's the first time in a long time," coach Chuck Priore said of the rushing outburst. "We didn't have one of those games last year."
Speaking of Bedell's run, Priore added: "That's the spark you look for and that you expect of our running game . . . We played our brand of football."
Division II American International (1-1) actually moved the ball effectively in the first quarter, but after reaching the Seawolves' 12-yard line on one possession, running back Adam Salvadori lost 10 yards on three runs before Jared Hulsey missed a 40-yard field-goal attempt wide right.
That defensive sequence was typical for the Seawolves on a night when they threw the Yellow Jackets for losses 16 times, including five sacks. Rover Christian Ricard, who had three tackles for losses, including one sack, said: "Hats off to AIC. They came out swinging. That was one of the most physical games I've played."
But Bedell finally broke it open on a first-down play when he swept right and won a 72-yard race to the end zone.
"It was great to find our identity," Bedell said of the run game. "[AIC] was shooting rushers in the gaps, and I bounced it outside and got a block from the wide receiver. I was confident I could get to the end zone, but it had been a long time since I ran that long."
The next AIC drive ended when safety Naim Cheeseboro made a diving interception at the Yellow Jackets' 43-yard line. The Seawolves actually stalled on a third-down incompletion at the AIC 6-yard line, but a pass-interference penalty put the ball at the 2, setting up another scoring run by Bedell for a 14-0 halftime lead.
In the third quarter, a Priore faux pas helped the Jackets to their only score. He was called for unsportsmanlike conduct with AIC facing fourth-and-18 from its 20-yard line, leading to an automatic first down. Two plays later, AIC quarterback Shawn Brathwaite hit Stephan Davis for a 62-yard gain before he was run down by Ricard. Jared Hulsey converted a 23-yard field goal.
"I own those three points," a chagrined Priore said after the game.
But the Seawolves put the game out of reach by driving 81 yards to score on Kenner's 3-yard run early in the fourth quarter. He carried four times for 52 yards on the drive, including a 30-yard run.
"At Stony Brook, we have so many talented running backs," Kenner said. "All I tried to do was stay focused and stay hungry."
When his chance came, Kenner was ready to run.