It’s hard to quantify a game like the one played between Stony Brook and Buffalo on Saturday using words. Heartbreaking. Exciting. Unending. All are apt, yet none capture the scale and magnitude of the Seawolves’ 26-23 loss to the Bulls.
On the one hand, the Seawolves were facing an FBS team that should, by definition, have been able to win with relative ease. Even with 13 wins by FCS programs over FBS ones so far this year, it remains a David and Goliath-ian matchup. Bigger stadiums, more scholarships, better funding, home field advantage: all break in favor of the FBS team. Coming into UB Stadium and taking the Bulls into five overtimes is without question a strong showing by the Seawolves.
But on the other hand, the game was well within reach on multiple occasions, and Stony Brook could not convert. In overtime number 3, Nick Ferrara, who had an absolutely miserable day going just 3 for 6 on field goal attempts, whiffed a 37-yard field goal attempt that would have won it for the Seawolves right there. And a few dropped passes in the end zone were equally damaging.
Before we even get to overtime though, regulation was an equally troubling affair for the Seawolves. The defense was sharp, keeping Buffalo’s top receiver Alex Neutz in check and holding the Bulls to just 10 points, fewer than they managed to score against #4 Ohio State and #22 Baylor. But the offense almost failed to show up entirely. Through three quarters, Lyle Negron struggled to move the ball into Bulls territory and the Seawolves failed to convert on nearly every 3rd down opportunity, ending the day just 4 for 19 on third down. Through 59 minutes of regulation, the best Stony Brook could muster was a field goal from Nick Ferrara early in the final frame. The Seawolves struggled in the red zone for the second straight week, failing to convert a 1st and 10 from the UB 11 yard line into points in the third quarter.
In the closing minute of the game though, Negron found Malcolm Eugene in the end zone to knot the game up at 10 and send both teams down the OT rabbit hole.
There were some positives for the Seawolves in this one. Negron was able to overcome an early interception and remain poised in the pocket, accumulating 300 yards on the day, including 100+ yards passing to both Malcolm Eugene (110 yards, 2 TDs) and Adrian Coxson (101 yards). Marcus Coker rushed for 115 yards on 34 carries, and Negron added 23 yards with his legs as well.
And you can’t say enough about the Seawolves defense. They managed to hold Neutz, who a week earlier amassed 197 yards against Baylor, to just 43 yards on 10 receptions. And the 10 points that UB managed in regulation is their lowest total so far this season.
Coach Priore seemed to recognize both the missed opportunities and the strong showing exhibited by his squad after the game. Via Newsday:
“I’m proud of the effort, but losing is not acceptable,” Priore said. “Almosts, should’ves and could’ves are not something we can rely on. We have to rely on our ability to move forward and not think about the past.”
Stony Brook is back in action next Saturday in a big game at CAA opponent Villanova, a rematch of last year’s first round FCS playoff game, which Stony Brook won 20-10.