By GREG LOGAN firstname.lastname@example.org
TAMPA, Fla. - Perspective is in the eye of the beholder. Stony Brook's football players must live with their 59-14 loss Saturday night at South Florida, the first BCS program the Seawolves have ever faced. But they also can take heart from jumping out to a stunning 14-7 lead against a respected Big East team.
The final score says something about the difference in talent, speed and size, but the opening segment showed the Seawolves weren't intimidated. As coach Chuck Priore said of the Bulls, "I think they were a little shocked early."
Sometimes the little guy gets off to a strong start and wakes up the sleeping giant. It happened in several similar matchups on college football's opening weekend, although only Jacksonville State managed to pull off the upset, at Ole Miss in overtime, 49-48.
If Priore had a regret, it was that the Seawolves made it too easy for the Bulls in the second quarter after South Florida took a 17-14 lead. The Bulls recovered a blocked punt in the end zone and hit a scoring pass with six seconds left in the first half for a 31-14 lead.
"I'd like to say that first half should have ended at 17-14, and we go in the locker room," Priore said. "I don't know what the outcome of the game would have been, but the mental part would have been a little bit better. We could have gotten out of there with a better score. But I'm really proud of how we competed."
Stony Brook quarterback Michael Coulter got off to a great start. His 31-yard pass to wideout Jordan Gush set up a 3-yard touchdown run by Eddie Gowins, and he hit running back Brock Jackolski on a 27-yard scoring pass for the 14-7 lead. But Coulter later threw four interceptions against a heavy rush, including one tipped ball that was returned for a touchdown and another that stopped a fourth-quarter drive at South Florida's 7-yard line.
"I think there was one bad interception," Priore said. "The other three probably were caused by the difference in talent level."
Jackolski thought the Seawolves handled themselves well. "It lets us know we can play," he said. "We just need to play smarter. Our effort definitely was there."
Coulter admitted he needs to do a better job of throwing the ball away, but there were positives to build on.
"We've got to stay positive, not worry about the scoreboard too much," he said. "It's a new season now. We might have gotten a little pounded and had a few injuries, but I think we learned a lot from playing at this high level against this speed and size. I think we'll benefit the rest of the year."