Stony Brook loses to Liberty, 28-14, and now needs help
By Greg Logan, Newsday
The Division I Football Championship selection show will be shown live on Sunday, November 18 at 1:30 p.m. on ESPNU, should the Seawolves be in line for a berth.
LYNCHBURG, Va. -- Stony Brook's dream season ended Saturday at the Seawolves' field of nightmares -- Liberty University's Williams Stadium.
In two previous visits, SBU lost twice by a total of 59 points (87-28), and the third and final time in their Big South history wasn't a charm.
In their 28-14 upset victory, the Flames bottled up Stony Brook running back Miguel Maysonet, who lost a fumble that was returned 44 yards for the game's final TD, and picked off four Kyle Essington passes, including one that was returned 21 yards for a touchdown.
That ended the Seawolves' regular season and leaves them hoping for a miracle to produce a Football Championship Subdivision playoff bid.
Stony Brook is 9-2 overall and 5-1 in Big South play; the Flames are 5-5, 4-1. Liberty and Coastal Carolina, which also is 4-1, both have a chance to tie Stony Brook for the conference title with wins next Saturday. The Flames travel to VMI and the Chanticleers are at home against Charleston Southern.
Coastal would get the automatic FCS bid in a three-way tie at 5-1, and Liberty would get it in a two-way tie with Stony Brook. SBU's only hope is an unlikely Liberty loss that would give the Seawolves a tiebreaker advantage head-to-head against Coastal.
Maysonet was held to 70 yards rushing on 25 carries, although he scored two touchdowns, and Marcus Coker gained 30 on eight carries. Essington completed only 15 of 31 passes for 227 yards and no TDS with the four interceptions.
Stony Brook struck early, driving 65 yards to score on its first possession on a 1-yard dive by Maysonet. The Seawolves got creative twice in third-down situations on that drive. Essington faked a handoff to Maysonet and kept on a naked bootleg around left end for 41 yards, and on third-and-6 at the Liberty 16, Essington rolled right, then threw left to fullback Chris Fenelon for a 15-yard gain to set up the TD.
Liberty punted on its first three drives, but with a first down at the Stony Brook 49 early in the second quarter, the Flames brought in Wildcat formation quarterback Brian Hudson. He hadn't thrown a pass in four games, but he dropped back and hit wide-open running back Desmond Rice up the right sideline for the tying 49-yard touchdown.
When the Flames got the ball back at their 24, starting quarterback Josh Woodrum found wideoutPat Kelly on a deep post pattern. Seawolves defensive back Davonte Anderson missed a pickoff attempt at the Stony Brook 45, and Kelly went 67 yards. A penalty moved the ball to the 4-yard line, and Hudson carried for the touchdown and a 14-7 lead. The entire drive took all of 26 seconds.
Stony Brook had a chance to score late in the second quarter, but Essington's pass for Kevin Norrell was picked off at the 2-yard line by Brent Vinson.
When the second half began, Stony Brook's running game still was in low gear, which put pressure on Essington to make conversions on third down with the passing game. On third-and-7 from his 12, his pass under pressure and over the middle went straight to Liberty linebacker Nick Sigmon, who returned it 21 yards for a touchdown and a 21-7 lead.
Essington's frustrations continued later in the third quarter. After hitting a 37-yard completion to Norrell to the Liberty 41, Essington threw his third pick of the game to Liberty defender Jacob Hagen at the Flames' 9-yard line. But the Seawolves held and took over at the Liberty 47 after a 38-yard punt.
This time the Seawolves put together a painstaking drive that included a 10-yard run by Essington on fourth-and-8 and a 13-yard touchdown run by Maysonet on a fourth-and-1 pitch around left end. That cut Stony Brook's deficit to 21-14 with 13:31 left in the fourth quarter.
With one last chance to drive for a tying TD, Maysonet fumbled on a third-down play, and Hagen returned it 44 yards for a clinching touchdown with 3:56 left.
A third trip to Liberty had ended in misery for the Seawolves, who won't miss Williams Stadium when they move to the Colonial Athletic Association next season.