VILLANOVA FALLS TO STONY BROOK 36-35
BY ROCK HOFFMAN
COLLEGE FOOTBALL EDITOR
VILLANOVA - Nick Courtney kicked a 22-yard field as time expired and Stony Brook stunned No. 5 Villanova 36-35 on Homecoming at Villanova Stadium. The game-winning kick capped a 16-point barrage by the Seawolves over the final 4 minutes and 45 seconds of the game. Following a Stony Brook touchdown and missed two-point conversion that made the score 35-33, Villanova got the ball back with a minute and 26 seconds left and the Seawolves having just one timeout remaining. On first down, Villanova quarterback Dan Smith took a 13-yard loss on a play designed to run as much clock as possible but the Wildcats were flagged for holding. The Seawolves declined the penalty but exercised an option to have the clock start on the snap instead of when the ball was marked ready for play; it allowed them to save their timeout which they used after second down. The ‘Cats were able to run the clock down before they punted but the 21 seconds, they left Seawolves quarterback Tyquell Fields was just enough. He completed two passes (19 yards to Andrew Trent, who had dropped the two-point play that would’ve tied it, and 40 yards to Nick Anderson). After Fields clocked the ball, Courtney came on to hand the Wildcats their second loss in a row.
“We live in the CAA,” said Villanova (6-2, 3-2 CAA) head coach Mark Ferrante, “no lead is safe. I, obviously, mismanaged the clock at the end of the game and made our defense go back on the field.”
The Seawolves (5-3, 2-2 CAA) went three-and-out with the first possession while the Wildcats got one first down before being forced to punt but Nathan Fondacaro’s kick was blocked E.J. Fineran. It put Stony Brook in business at the Villanova 44-yard line. Five plays later, quarterback Tyquell Fields ran 15 yards for a 7-0 lead.
After trading punts, the Wildcats found themselves starting at their own one-yard line but a pair of third down conversion passes by Dan Smith – one to Changa Hodge and the other to Zac Kerxton – got the ‘Cats out of the hole. The play after Smith connected with Kerxton, Smith was on the receiving end of a throw-back pass from Jaaron Hayek. With a convoy of blockers, Smith raced down the sideline, dove and just got the ball inside the pylon to tie the score.
"It was basically a screen pass," said Smith about his first career catch. "Everyone blocked it well, everyone ran it well. You need all 11 [players] to execute a play."
On the first play of the second quarter, Smith his freshman running back DeeWill Barlee for a 33-yard completion. After Barlee followed up his catch with a 17-yard run, T.D. Ayo-Durojaiye ran 24 yards for his first career touchdown.
The Seawolves answered with a field goal but the Wildcats quickly responded. A simple tight end down the middle went for 50 yards for Todd Summers. On the next play, Smith returned the favor, finding Hayek wide open for a 21-yard touchdown.
Just before halftime Hodge caught a 24-yard touchdown pass from Ayo-Durojaiye making it 28-10. It marks the second straight year the Wildcats had three different players throw for touchdowns against Stony Brook.
The third quarter could have been a disaster for Villanova, they fumbled the second half kickoff, Smith threw an interception, Drew Kresge missed a 44-yard field goal and a Seawolves recovery of a muffed punt was wiped out by kick catching interference. However, all the Seawolves could manage was a field goal and a Ty Son Lawton 10-yard touchdown run to cut the score to 28-20.
“We didn’t execute the way we should’ve,” said Smith of the Wildcats third quarter offensive performance, “like we did in the first half. I don’t think we were super locked in, in the second half.”
Early in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats muffed another punt but the ball went out of the end zone so the kept the ball. The ‘Cats would matriculate the ball down the field along the way Barlee would convert a fourth-and-one at the Villanova 40. Smith and Hodge connected on a 44-yard pass play that gave ‘Nova a first-and-goal. Ferrante gambled again, he went for a touchdown, forgoing a field goal and a possible 11-point lead. Barlee and the left side of the offensive line rewarded Ferrante’s faith with a two-yard touchdown run.
A long drive by the Seawolves, that included converting a fourth-and-nine ended when Fields hit Shawn Harris for a 10-yard score. The Villanova went three-and-out and the Seawolves were right back in a goal-to-go situation after Lawton broke free on a 47-yard run. After an apparent Lawton touchdown was reversed by replay, Fields scored from the one-yard line. The two-point conversion try failed and the ‘Cats were clinging to a 35-33 lead. The Seawolves onside kick went out of bounds and all Villanova needed to do was run out the final 1:26 but it wasn’t meant to be.
Email Rock Hoffman at firstname.lastname@example.org