Saturday, November 26, 2011
Jackolski simply refuses to lose (Newsday)
This was the last time Brock Jackolski would perform on the field turf at Stony Brook University's LaValle Stadium. It would be the last time Long Island football fans would get a chance to watch one of the very best players of this generation.
Jackolski, a senior halfback for the Seawolves, has been a winner at every level. As a high school player, he led Floyd to three straight Long Island Class I championships. He finished a stellar high school career with a 33-0 record. It is improbable that any player will ever match that kind of streak.
Jackolski knows only winning. So when Stony Brook teetered on the brink of playoff elimination, it came as no surprise that the coaching staff asked him to put the team on his back. And he delivered.
Jackolski, a Big South first-team selection, never has disappointed, and he didn't this time, either. After falling behind 28-10 early in the third quarter, the Seawolves mounted a furious comeback, scoring three unanswered touchdowns to edge Albany, 31-28, in the first round of the FCS playoffs.
Who scored all three touchdowns? Jackolski.
The same Jackolski who burst on to the high school scene as a sophomore, rumbling for four touchdowns in a 34-27 win over Baldwin for the Long Island Class I championship at LaValle Stadium in 2005.
The same Jackolski who as a junior scored three times in a 42-20 win over East Meadow for the Class I title.
And yes, the same Jackolski who scored three times in his senior year in 2007, sparking a 42-0 win over Farmingdale and a third Class I crown.
He totaled 3,601 yards rushing and scored 66 touchdowns in high school, including a record 10 touchdowns in the Long Island Championships.
"He's a special player," Stony Brook coach Chuck Priore said. "He's a quiet leader as our captain, and the one thing that defines a great player is he never gets too high or low."
Jackolski ignited the come-from-behind win with a 6-yard touchdown run with 4:10 left in the third quarter to get the Seawolves within 28-17. And he was far from finished.
On a play that Priore said he designed this past week on a napkin, Jackolski moved out to the slot position, faked a stalk block on a defensive back, ran by him down the sideline and caught a well-thrown 55-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Kyle Essington to make it 28-24 with 1:16 left in the third quarter.
"He sold it enough to make it work," Priore said. "We put it in the playmaker's hands."
Jackolski punctuated the win with a burst over right tackle for an 11-yard scoring run for the go-ahead touchdown early in the fourth quarter. That third score resuscitated a fabulous Stony Brook season that had teetered on the brink of elimination an hour earlier.
Jackolski finished with 232 all-purpose yards, including 103 rushing and 74 on three kickoff returns. And he had one solo tackle and an assist on defense in the second half when he was asked to play in the nickel pass defense. Jackolski was in there defensively at crunch time, dropping back into coverage as Stony Brook held off an Albany drive that reached the SBU 3 in the final minute.
"It brought me back to my high school days going both ways," he said. "It means a lot to win here on Long Island."
So a player who emerged as a sophomore playmaker at LaValle Stadium in 2005 made more headlines there in his final game on Long Island in 2011. Jackolski's path from Floyd to Hofstra to Stony Brook mirrored the way he zigs and zags through opposing defenses.
"He embodies everything this program wants to become," Stony Brook athletic director Jim Fiore said. "He's so tough and resilient. I love the kid. He's a winner all the way around. He represents his family, our school, Long Island and himself in a classy way all the time."
Jackolski's transition from high school superstar to college star has been seamless, and his work isn't finished. Stony Brook will travel to top-ranked Sam Houston State in Huntsville, Texas, for Saturday's second-round playoff game. And it could be more than another playoff game for Jackolski. Maybe it will be an audition for the NFL draft.
"Who would doubt a guy who refuses to lose?" Fiore said. "He has that extra gear, that vision, that desire. You can't teach what Brock Jackolski has."