Jacob FlanaganNov 4, 2017, 11:00 pmNov 15, 2017, 3:03 pm

Stony Brook defeats Albany 28-21 in Empire Clash thriller

The Seawolves' record is now 7-2 overall and 6-1 in the the Colonial Athletic Association

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The well-trodden cliché is that when rivals face one another, records cease to matter. And while the Empire Clash may be a relatively young college football rivalry, it still clearly meant enough to players on both sides Saturday to produce a hard-hitting battle that saw five fumbles, a 14-point comeback and a final defensive stand to seal Stony Brook’s victory.

The Stony Brook Seawolves came into the game ranked #21 in the FCS Coaches Poll and #14 in the STATS FCS Poll following their 27-24 victory over Richmond on Oct. 28. Meanwhile, the Albany Great Danes were riding a four-game losing streak, having been defeated by Elon, Richmond, Maine and Rhode Island.

When the Great Danes’ Donovan McDonald fumbled on the opening kickoff and the Seawolves’ Donald Liotine scored just four plays later, the day might have seemed to be tilting the Seawolves’ way. But Albany recovered and immediately replied, marching 62 yards down the field and scoring on a Will Brunson pass to Brad Harris that tied the score at 7-7.

After forcing a Stony Brook punt, Albany turned over the ball deep inside their own territory once more, as Karl Mofor fumbled the ball away at the Albany 9 yard line. Two plays later, Stony Brook was celebrating in the Albany end zone again after a 4-yard run by Stacey Bedell.

On their next possession, Albany turned the ball over on downs and Stony Brook’s offense went on the march once more, going on a 65-yard drive, the final chunk of which coming on a 26-yard touchdown pass from Joe Carbone to Donavin Washington that extended the Seawolves’ lead to 21-7.

Once again, however, Albany had another immediate reply, retaining possession of the ball thanks to a Roughing the Kicker penalty on Stony Brook and soon afterwards scored on a 15-yard pass from Brunson to McDonald to close the gap to 21-14.

The 3rd quarter was an ugly affair, with neither offense able to find a rhythm or any sustained success. A punt was followed by a punt, then a fumble, then another punt. Despite the fact that Albany never moved the ball further than their own 38-yard line throughout the quarter, Stony Brook was unable to make their advantage in field position count, getting as close to scoring as Albany’s 3-yard line at one point, but walking away with nothing to show for it after quarterback Joe Carbone fumbled the ball away while being sacked.

Having been given several chances to tie the game, Albany finally took one in the 4th quarter, going on a grinding, 19-play, 9-minute drive, punctuated by Karl Mofor's 3-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 21-21.

With just over 90 seconds left on the clock, the Seawolves’ offense kicked into gear once again, pushing the ball downfield through the air as far as the Albany 31-yard line, setting up Alex Lucansky for a potential game-winning field goal. However, Lucansky’s effort went well wide of the uprights, sending the game into overtime.

Stony Brook took the ball first in overtime, and quickly retook the lead: Joe Carbone finding Harrison Jackson on the right side of the end zone to give the Seawolves a 28-21 lead. On their possession, Albany pushed as close as the Stony Brook 5-yard line, but Brunson’s final pass into the end zone was tipped and fell incomplete, leaving the Seawolves as this year’s recipients of the Golden Apple Trophy.

The win increases Stony Brook’s record to 7-2, with a 6-1 record in the Colonial Athletic Assocation. Albany fell to 3-6, with a 1-5 conference record. Despite the loss, Albany still has a 11-8 all-time lead in the Empire Clash.

Saturday’s victory should help Stony Brook solidify its national ranking and its chances for a berth in the FCS Playoffs. Up next is 3-6 Wagner for the Seawolves' final home game, followed by the regular season finale at 4-4 Maine.

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