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    Football loses Heartbreaker to Gardner-Webb

    525 total yards of offense.

    100 yard rushing days, plus two touchdowns a piece, from Conte Cuttino and Edwin Gowins.

    And it all added up to a heartbreaking 34-33 loss to the Gardner-Webb Fightin’ Bulldogs.

    The game couldn’t have started off any better for the Seawolves.

    By the time the first quarter was halfway through, Stony Brook had a 14-0 lead. Gowins broke off a 49-yard TD run four minutes in, and Cuttino added a five yard score of his own less than three minutes later.

    That was the furthest the Seawolves would be ahead. Gowins added another touchdown run late in the half after two Luke Gaddis field goals, and it looked like Stony Brook would go into the half up 27-14. But Gaddis could not convert the extra point, a play that would end up costing the Seawolves dearly in a one point loss.

    On the day Gowins ran for 185 yards on 15 carries with a long of 57 yards, and scored twice.

    Cuttino contributed another good outing, gaining 145 yards on 26 carries to go along with his two touchdowns.

    “We’re two different types of backs,” Gowins said. “The defense can’t set up for one, we mix them up.”

    But Gardner-Webb and quarterback Devin Campbell, who finished the day 32 of 44 for 394 yards and three touchdowns, put together a quick strike drive, highlighted by spectacular catch by Tyson Petty that brought the ball down to the one yard line. Philip Peoples punched the ball in and the Fightin’ Bulldogs found themselves right back in the game before half time.

    Late in the third quarter Gardner-Webb swiftly drove the ball down the field and it put them in prime position just outside the Stony Brook 20-yard line.

    The Seawolves defense stood tall, and forced the Bulldogs back one yard on three consecutive plays.

    That’s when the craziness started.

    Gardner-Webb ran its field goal unit out onto the field, but had a man positioned away from the line near the far sideline. The ball was snapped, and instead of putting the ball down for a field goal, the ball was thrown out wide to the open man, who scampered all the way down the field and tip-toed the line into the end zone.

    “I used to run that play,” Seawolves Head Coach Chuck Priore said after the game. “I used it until they put the rule in that you can’t deceive.”

    The play was originally ruled legal, causing Priore and his coaching staff to go ballistic. After a lengthy argument, and a lengthy conference by the officials, the play was officially ruled an illegal substitution, and Gardner-Webb was docked 15 yards.

    “We went over it with the officials before the game, determined it was probably legal,” Gardner-Webb Head Coach Steve Patton said after the game. “Unfortunately I guess they forgot or the official on our side did, so none of them could really attest he went inside the numbers. But to me, you don’t see it, you don’t call it.”

    According to his interpretation of the rules, the play was obviously legal.

    “Every play is an attempt to deceive,” he said. “If I knew all the plays the other team was running, we would win all the games. Well, at least some of them,” he added.

    “When they’re lining up and kicking our tails, sometimes deception is needed,” he said.

    The play seemed to spark the Seawolves. After the ball was punted and downed at the 1-yard line, the Seawolves put together an impressive drive consisting of a ground assault that covered all but 15 of the 99 yards.

    Cuttino ran for an eight yard gain on the first play, and a personal foul on the Bulldogs pushed the Seawolves 15 yards further from its own end zone.

    After a few more solid runs by Cuttino, Gowins ripped off his 57-yard run, beating everyone to the outside before finally being dragged down from behind.

    Cuttino picked up the final seven yards on the ground, and Gaddis added the extra point to put Stony Brook up 33-21.

    Campbell and Gardner-Webb then showed just how dangerous its offense is.

    Campbell’s arm and the legs of Philip Peoples combined to bring the Bulldogs 73-yards down the field on the ensuing drive, bringing the score to 33-27.

    Donald Porter, looking to give Stony Brook a boost, returned the following kickoff 27 yards, but coughed it up and gave the Bulldogs prime field position.

    Campbell wasted no time, completing five of six passes on the 42-yard drive, eventually finding Dobson Collins in the end zone after a 13-yard strike.

    Stony Brook’s lead had vanished in less than five minutes.

    The Seawolves converted a fourth-and-two on its next drive, but could not move the ball any further.

    The Bulldogs got the ball back with 6:02 remaining and were able to grind five minutes off the clock, forcing the Seawolves to use its final two time outs.

    With 1:04 left and 80 yards to go to the opposite end zone, Dayne Hoffman completed his first two passes of the drive, but gained only 12 yards.

    With no timeouts left and chaos reigning on the field, Hoffman was able to snap the ball with under one second left on the game clock.

    He rolled to his left and waved all his receivers down field.

    He launched the ball into the air; hopeful a Stony Brook receiver would haul it in and bring it to the end zone.

    But the ball and the Seawolves’ Big South championship hopes were swatted away.

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