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Upon Further Review: Alston Jr.’s kick returns spark stagnant offense

Junior wide receiver Sherman Alston Jr. ARACELY JIMENEZ/THE STATESMAN
Junior wide receiver Sherman Alston Jr. returns a kick from Rhode Island. ARACELY JIMENEZ/THE STATESMAN

With his team down 3-0 in the fourth quarter, junior wide receiver Sherman Alston Jr. took matters into his own hands.

Rhode Island punter Oliver Graybar punted the ball away to Stony Brook’s 36-yard line. Alston Jr. took the ball and ran it into Rams’ territory until he was finally brought down at the Rams’ 36-yard line. The Seawolves’ next drive put them into the end-zone for the first time all game.

Alston Jr. proved to be the explosive catalyst that the team desperately needed. His play on the special teams made it possible for Stony Brook to beat Rhode Island.

The offense was stalling out in the first quarter. As a whole, the team only gained 45 yards of total offense and redshirt sophomore quarterback Joe Carbone threw for only seven of those yards. Running the ball was the only option for the offense. In order to succeed with a run-based offense, good field position was a must.

“We just needed to get in great field position,” Alston Jr. said. “I had confidence in all of us that we were going to get it going. I was just doing my job.”

“We know that he’s a dangerous returner, that he can make plays at any given time in the game,” redshirt junior running back Stacey Bedell said of Alston Jr. “That was a big spark for the team. It just helped us get the flow going and the crowd going and everybody started getting up.”

In the Colonial Athletic Association, Alston Jr. leads all kick returners in total yards returned and average yards per return even though he has only returned four kickoffs. He also is the only returner in the CAA to have returned a kick for a touchdown. Throughout the season, he has proved to be such a threat that teams, such as Sacred Heart, did not kick towards him and chose to kick short rather than risk him returning the ball.

All throughout the season, Alston Jr. has saved the Seawolves with his explosive returns. With a chance at returning to the Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs on the line, those game-saving returns will become much more crucial.

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