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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Great Danes take bite out of apple and tastes victory

Redshirt-senior defensive back Gavin Heslop attempts to take down a Bryant football player in the Stony Brook Football home opener on Aug. 29. In the second quarter, he ran nine-yards to the end zone for a touchdown. EMMA HARRIS/THE STATESMAN

A new chapter has been written and sealed for Stony Brook Football.

Following their 31-26 loss at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 23 against the University of Albany Great Danes (8-4, 6-2) in the “Battle for the Golden Apple”, the Seawolves (5-7, 2-6) have officially ended the season with a losing record, after starting 4-1, for their first losing season since 2016. 

“I’m real proud of the football team,” Stony Brook head coach Chuck Priore said in a postgame press conference. “There was a point in that game where, and I’ve been in those games, where they can go really really really bad or we have a chance to win in the fourth quarter, and we had a chance to win in the fourth quarter.”

Sloppy play on both sides of the ball in the first quarter led to the Seawolves finding themselves on the wrong side of a 21-0 score at the end of the first quarter. 

Albany junior running back Karl Mofor managed to slip through the Stony Brook defense in the first quarter for a pair of rushing touchdowns, helping the Great Danes to build their massive lead. 

As Mofor was finding holes in the Seawolves’ front seven, redshirt-freshman quarterback Jeff Undercuffler threw his Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) leading 33rd touchdown pass of the season, to senior wide receiver Juwan Green.

“Certainly give credit to the Albany back (Mofor) who had a career day,” Priore said in the postgame press conference.

The scoring continued for Albany, after they hit a 25-yard field goal just 2:56 into the second quarter, which put them up 24-0. However, the offensive outburst quickly drew to a halt after the Seawolves defense came out of hibernation and started to play.

Moments later, Stony Brook captain, redshirt-senior running back Isaiah White fumbled and lost the ball giving the Great Danes excellent field position starting on the Seawolves 23-yard line. On the very next play, redshirt-senior defensive back Synceir Malone picked off the pass, for his third interception on the season, and saving Stony Brook from a larger deficit.

Redshirt-junior quarterback Tyquell Fields shook off a rough first quarter, and a terrible game last week against Delaware, to throw a 23-yard touchdown pass to redshirt-junior wide receiver Brandon Benson with 6:57 left in the second. The touchdown was Benson’s first on the season, and his first at Stony Brook after transferring from Southern Methodist University (SMU) over the summer.

The Seawolves defense quickly jumped back into action, with redshirt-senior defensive back Gavin Heslop and redshirt-freshman defensive lineman Makye Smith, forcing a strip-sack of Undercuffler, that Heslop picked up and ran nine-yards to the end zone for a touchdown.

“It’s bittersweet. We [were] down big,” Heslop said in a postgame press conference, referring to his fumble recovery for a touchdown. “I saw an opportunity to make a play and put my team back in the game.”

In less than a minute, 53 seconds to be exact, Stony Brook had managed to turn a 24 point deficit, into 10, now finding themselves down 24-14.

The score remained 24-14 when the first half ended, but not for a lack of trying. Albany redshirt-junior kicker Dylan Burns, who previously hit a 25-yard field goal, missed a 32-yard field goal late in the fourth. Meanwhile, Fields threw his only interception of the day, as time expired in the second quarter while attempting a hail mary. 

“We rallied up and got focused towards the end of the second quarter,” Fields said in a post game press conference.

A mostly quiet third quarter was highlighted by numerous penalties from both teams, including an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Fields after he was sacked by Albany senior defensive end Eli Mencer. Fields was injured on the same play, and left the game. 

Redshirt-sophomore tight end Anthony Del Negro managed to block his second punt in three games, with 2:54 remaining in the third. On the ensuing drive, Fields found redshirt-senior wide receiver Nick Anderson for a five-yard touchdown pass to bring Stony Brook within four, after redshirt-senior Nick Courtney missed the extra point. 

After a 35-minute scoreless period, the Great Danes came alive once again, with Mofor finding the end zone for the third time with 5:36 remaining in the fourth quarter, but Albany up 31-20.

The Seawolves turned it over on downs on the following possession after a quick four and out, but managed to get the ball back, down 11, with 2:26 remaining.

Fields eventually found redshirt-senior wide receiver Andrew Trent for a seven-yard touchdown with only four seconds remaining in the game. The Touchdown marked Trent’s first of the season, and only the second of his career.

After a failed two-point conversion attempt and a failed onside kick attempt, the Seawolves season was officially over. 

It was a bounce back week for Fields, who managed to throw for 223-yards while completing 19 of his 27 passes, three of them for touchdowns.

After celebrating on the field with the Golden Apple trophy, Albany has more to celebrate. The Great Danes finished second in the CAA standings, having been selected to finish deadlast in the preseason poll. Albany is all but assured a spot in the FCS Playoffs, and will find out on Sunday, Nov. 24 who and where they will be playing next week. 

While the night, and season, did not go the way Stony Brook wanted it to, it ended on a high note for one player. Redshirt-senior long snapper, Billy Barber, one of the 16 players graduating, stopped in the tunnel after the game, and with no fans or cameras watching, took off his cleats and handed them to two young boys.

 A selfless act of kindness — and not a bad way to end a season.

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