Sunday, September 6, 2009
Seawolves Fall In Season Opener on the Road
Hempstead, N.Y. - For the third time in the past four meetings, Stony Brook and Hofstra battled in a hard fought football game that was decided by less than 10 points. An early fourth quarter touchdown that was scored when a Hofstra offensive lineman recovered a fumble in the end zone proved to be the difference as the Pride held off the Seawolves, 17-10, in the season opener for both teams. Sophomore Michael Coulter (Yorba Linda, Calif.) threw for 188 yards and a touchdown in his Stony Brook debut.
"I am very disappointed in the outcome of this game," said Stony Brook head coach Chuck Priore. "We responded after that opening touchdown and (punt) snap over our head and played well for three quarters against a good Hofstra football team. We will be ready next week."
After Hofstra took the opening kickoff 72 yards for a score to take an early 7-0 lead, Stony Brook drove the ball to midfield on its first drive of the game before the Pride defense forced an SBU punt. The snap on the punt attempt was high, however, forcing freshman punter Drew Evangelista (Cedar Grove, N.J.) to fall on the ball at the SBU 30. Hofstra was able to turn the miscue into just three points, however, as Stony Brook's defense stiffened and held the Pride to a 32-yard field goal from Henry Greco. Offensively the Seawolves could not get much going in the opening 15 minutes, gaining just 10 total yards and one first down as the quarter ended in a 10-0 Hofstra lead.
Twice in the second quarter Hofstra drove into Stony Brook territory, and both times the Stony Brook defense answered to keep the Seawolves close on the scoreboard. Aided by tackles behind the line of scrimmage by seniors Christopher Perri (Alameda, Calif.), Josh Auerbach (Langhorne, Pa.) and Tyler Santucci (New Kensington, Pa.) the Seawolves halted both drives and that saw the Pride miss on a pair of field goal attempts.
After being held to 54 yards and three first downs in the first half, Stony Brook took the opening kickoff of the second half and put together its best drive of the game to that point. Sophomore Michael Coulter (Yorba Linda, Calif.) hit sophomore Matt Brevi (Tampa, Fla.) on a key 26-yard pass on a 3rd and 10 play during the drive as the Seawolves pushed into Hofstra territory for the first time. The drive stalled at the Pride 13-yard line, but freshman Wesley Skiffington (Brandon, Fla.) connected on his first collegiate field goal attempt, hitting from 30 yards out to put the Seawolves on the board and complete the 63-yard drive.
Hofstra took advantage of a short Evangelista punt late in the third that gave the Pride the ball on the SBU 46-yard line to start its drive. Early in the fourth on a 3rd and goal, Hofstra's quarterback ran up the middle, but fumbled before crossing the goal line. Luck was not on the Seawolves side, however, as a Hofstra offensive lineman, Brian Frederick, recovered in the end zone for the score, one that would prove to be decisive.
With nearly 10 minutes left and still trailing by 14, Stony Brook's offense put together its best drive of the night to get within striking distance of the Pride. Using a balanced mix of run and pass, the Seawolves drove from their own 18 all the way to the Hofstra 23 where it faced a 3rd and 13. Coulter hit senior Stephan Towns (San Diego, Calif.) with a pass, but the play came up a yard short of the first down at the HU 11. After a time out, Coulter faked a handoff, rolled right and found wide open Towns in the back of the end zone that completed the 82-yard drive and brought Stony Brook within seven, 17-10, with 3:58 left to play.
Stony Brook attempted an on-sided kick, but Hofstra recovered at the Stony Brook 41. On 3rd and six the Pride tossed a pass to the left sideline that fell incomplete, but the Seawolves were flagged for pass interference on the play, giving Hofstra the first down it needed to run out the clock and deny the Seawolves another chance with the ball.
Coulter finished his first game at Stony Brook by completing 18 of his 29 attempts for 188 yards and a score. Junior Donald Porter (Charles Town, W.Va.) led the receivers with five catches for 52 yards. Towns caught four balls for 36 yards. Sophomore Edwin Gowins (Bellport, N.Y.) led a Stony Brook ground game that was limited to 46 yards with 37 yards on 14 carries. Stony Brook finished with 234 yards of total offense, with Hofstra gaining 276.
Junior Stephen Schwicke (East Patchogue, N.Y.) led Stony Brook's defense with a career-high 13 tackles, two of which came behind the line of scrimmage.
Stony Brook will be back in action next week when it travels to Colgate on Saturday for a 6:00 p.m. meeting with the Raiders.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Joshua Bright for The New York Times
Seawolves running backs Eddie Gowins, left, and Conte Cuttino each rushed for more than 1,000 yards last season.
Published: September 05, 2009
STONY BROOK, N.Y. - The sign outside Gate 2 at LaValle Stadium reads, You're in Seawolves Country. Inside, on the pristine green carpet, the Stony Brook football team was practicing. The ball was at the 15-yard line when Eddie Gowins took a handoff and cruised behind right tackle toward the end zone. Conte Cuttino then ran an option pitch.
It helped that the defense consisted of five coaches in shorts who were not chasing. But Gowins and Cuttino, both running backs, can create quite a storm when 11 men in helmets are after them, too.
"They say it's a lightning-and-thunder thing," Cuttino said before a practice this week. "I'm the lightning. He's the thunder. But we've both got some of each."
As a freshman last season, Gowins ran for Seawolves records of 1,310 yards and 9.4 a carry and was named the College Sporting News national freshman of the year among Football Championship Subdivision programs and the Big South Conference freshman of the year. Cuttino, the program's career rushing leader, compiled 1,195 yards and 6.0 a carry as a junior, making Stony Brook the only F.C.S. team last season to have two 1,000-yard rushers.
And they are determined to pick up where they left off Saturday night at Hofstra, when their season opens against their Long Island rival. The Seawolves will be trying to build on a 4-1 finish to a 5-6 season.
"We expect better, and that's what we will do," Cuttino said. "A thousand yards, that's in the past. Let's shoot for 1,200, 1,300 each, up to 15."
The 5-foot-10, 195-pound Cuttino and the 5-11, 222-pound Gowins are two big dots on the map now, and they are back with a new left side of the line.
"Everyone is going to be keying on us because of the success that we had last year, but I feel we can still get the job done," Gowins said.Coach Chuck Priore started Cuttino last season, although he mostly alternated Cuttino and Gowins in his run-first offense. The new game plan calls for more of a two-headed approach.
"We are going to have scenarios where they're on the field together this year," Priore said. "The one thing they both have right now in their careers is something you can't coach, and that's understanding when to make that cut."
Stony Brook has 15 returning starters from the team that went 3-2 and tied for second place last season in the Big South, its first year in the conference. The university decided in 2005 that it wanted to elevate its football program and move toward giving 63 scholarships, the maximum for F.C.S. programs. At the time, it could give only 30 in the Northeast Conference. So the Seawolves left after the 2006 season.
Jim Fiore, the director of athletics at Stony Brook, said the university had several reasons for wanting the switch, including its 8,136-seat stadium, which opened in 2002, and the expansion of its recruiting base. He also said, "We wanted to have an opportunity to compete for a national championship."
The Big South needed a sixth football program so it could be considered for an automatic bid to the F.C.S. playoffs by 2010. The conference approached Stony Brook, and the deal was announced in March 2007, although the Seawolves played as an independent that year.
Stony Brook is continuing to upgrade its stadium. FieldTurf was installed in June; a $1 million scoreboard will be unveiled Oct. 24; and there are plans to increase capacity to more than 10,000.
Priore, 16-17 since arriving from Division III Trinity in December 2005, also intends to upgrade the results.
"As we move forward, the goal is winning a Big South championship," Priore said. "And if we do that in the year 2010, you get an automatic bid to the N.C.A.A. playoffs."
Priore grew up on Long Island, as did Gowins and Cuttino.
Gowins rushed for 1,996 yards as a senior at Bellport High. He said he did not feel ready for college, so he went to Bridgton Academy in Maine in 2007 and rushed for 1,100 yards and 11 touchdowns. Stony Brook became his only offer.
Cuttino ran for 1,482 yards as a senior at Uniondale High. He orally committed to James Madison, but that program backed away after recruiting two other backs. Hofstra showed interest before Joe Gardi retired as coach after the 2005 season, Cuttino said, but the new staff, led by Dave Cohen, did not recruit him.
"They didn't want me," Cuttino said. "I'm just going to have to show them why they made a bad decision on their part come Saturday."
He will have his work cut out for him: Hofstra is 12-0 against the Seawolves.