Big South Champions! Football blasts Liberty, 41-31, to advance to NCAAs
Nov. 19, 2011
Stony Brook's football team finally can lay claim to an outright Big South Championship as the Seawolves upended Liberty, 41-31, at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium on Saturday. The victory gives Stony Brook the Big South's automatic bid to the FCS Playoffs for the first time in school history.
Stony Brook, which won its eighth straight game, ties a program record with its eighth win of the season, set in 2002 (8-2).
The Seawolves will have their postseason fate decided Sunday at 10 a.m., with the NCAA FCS Selection Show on ESPNU.
"It's been a long journey," coach Chuck Priore said. "There's been a lot of ups and downs and peaks and valleys. Great, great, great win for all parties involved."
Stony Brook (8-3, 6-0) was helped by the powerful 1-2 punch of junior Miguel Maysonet (Riverhead, N.Y.) and senior Brock Jackolski (Shirley, N.Y.). Maysonet rushed for 158 yards and a touchdown, and Jackolski added 121 yards and a score.
Jackolski caught a 14-yard touchdown, his second of the year, in the third quarter as he's tied with Maysonet for the team lead in touchdowns.
"Since Kyle came in, he's opened the run game for us, and Miguel and I have opened the passing game for him," Jackolski said.
Jackolski, who totaled 242 all-purpose yards, is in the top 25 all-time in FCS history with 6,007 all-purpose yards for an average of 136.5 per game.
Maysonet has 1,485 yards for the season, 16 shy of the Big South record for rushing yards in a season, held by former Liberty and current Jacksonville Jaguar Rashad Jennings, and 15 touchdowns. Jackolski has totaled 1,229 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Junior Kyle Essington (Chino Hills, Calif.) was outstanding, completing 14 of 20 passes for 250 yards and three touchdowns. He threw touchdown passes of 26, 49 and 14 yards.
"Coach (Jeff) Berhman and Coach Priore called the perfect plays today," Essington said. "They've done a great job doing that all season long."
Since taking over as the starting quarterback against Presbyterian on October 8, Essington is 84 of 127 (66.1) for 1,371 yards and 15 touchdowns against just one interception. He's also rushed for three scores.
Stony Brook scored more than 40 points for a seventh straight game. It has scored 436 points this season for an average of 39.6 points per game, which leads FCS. The Seawolves' rushing attack, which gained 287 yards today, ranks fourth in FCS (287.4 ypg). Liberty came into the game averaging 161 yards on the ground. Stony Brook held the Flames to 101 yards.
Three of Stony Brook's five touchdowns came on drives of five plays or less.
Stony Brook was able to overcome a solid performance from Liberty quarterback Mike Brown. The senior quarterback, who rushed for two touchdowns, passed for 361 yards, 287 in the first half, but only one touchdown. Chris Summers caught 10 passes for 240 yards.
But the Stony Brook defense was up to the task. Junior Dominick Reyes (Hesperia, Calif.) made one of the biggest plays of the game in the fourth quarter. On Liberty's second-to-last drive, Reyes hit Brown, forcing the fumble and then recovering it. Sophomore Grant Nakwaasah (Richardson, Texas) also forced a fumble by Brown.
Junior Craig Richardson (Malden, Mass.) stalled a red-zone drive from Liberty. The Flames had first and goal from the nine. Two plays later, Richardson intercepted Brown at the two. Essington found junior Chris Fenelon (Bellerose, N.Y.) for a 39-yard bootleg play, and Jackolski scored on a 39-yard run as Stony Brook scored in just 34 seconds.
Maysonet's one-yard touchdown gave Stony Brook a 38-31 lead with 9:39 left in the game. Junior Wesley Skiffington (Brandon, Fla.) who made all five PATs and two field goals, kicked an 18-yarder to make it a two score game with 4:57 left.
Senior Al-Majid Hutchins (East Orange, N.J.) led Stony Brook with 11 tackles.