Stony Brook Rallies For 31-28 Playoff Win Over Albany
STONY BROOK 31, ALBANY 28 | GAME STATS
Stony Brook's football team hadn't faced a double-digit deficit since the second game of the season at Buffalo. But a little of junior Brock Jackolski and some defense helped erase an 18-point Albany lead as the Seawolves topped the Great Danes, 31-28, in a wild Division I Football Championship first round game at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium on Saturday.
Stony Brook (9-3) will face top-seeded Sam Houston State (11-0) next Saturday in Huntsville, Texas at 3 p.m. on ESPN3.
"Wow," coach Chuck Priore said. "I know I say it a lot, but good teams find ways to win. I'm really proud of my alma mater (UAlbany class of 1982) and the job they did tonight, but I'm even more proud of our team. We're excited for the opportunity to play another week."
Jackolski, a Long Island high school legend who played his final game at LaValle Stadium, scored two touchdowns in the third quarter and the eventual game-winner in the fourth quarter to lead a furious comeback.
Jackolski (22 rushes, 103 yards & one rec., 55 yards) scored on touchdown runs of 6 and 11 yards, and a 55-yard pass from junior Kyle Essington.
But UAlbany could have won if it wasn't for a game-saving play from senior Donald Porter and junior Dominick Reyes.
After a Stony Brook punt, the Great Danes started their final drive of the game from their 45. Senior Dan Di Lella (24-43-2, 223 yards, 1 TD) converted three third downs and a fourth down to give UAlbany first and goal from the 7. On second and goal from the 4, Di Lella faked the give to Paul Booker and rolled to his right. Di Lella, who was picked off earlier in the game by Porter, was looking for Brian Parker in the back of the endzone. But Porter stepped in front of the throw, and Reyes hauled in Porter's tip for the touchback to seal Stony Brook's school-record ninth straight win.
"My defensive responsibility was on the tight end, and I was able to get underneath him and tip the pass," Porter said. "Luckily for us, Dom (Reyes) was there and did a great job keeping his feet in bounds."
"As a player, I want to be in on the action," Reyes said. "It's hard to describe what I'm feeling right now. It hasn't sunk it yet. I saw the ball up in the air and did what you're supposed to do."
UAlbany, which held an 11-point lead at halftime, scored four plays into the second half. Tailback Drew Smith, who was split wide to the left, executed a perfect halfback option to Ryan Kirchner for a 43-yard touchdown, giving the Great Danes an 18-point lead -- Stony Brook's largest deficit since trailing Buffalo, 28-7 in the third quarter.
That's when the Seawolves offense and defense started to click. Jackolski's six-yard score capped an 11-play, 80-yard drive, keyed by Essington's 33-yard pass to junior Brett Arce down the sideline.
Porter ended the next UAlbany drive, picking off Di Lella at the 41.
Two plays later, Jackolski and Essington (12-24-1, 258 yards, 2 TDs) converted the Seawolves' longest completion of the season. Essington pump faked and found Jackolski down the left sideline for the score. It was Jackolski's third receiving touchdown of the year as Stony Brook trailed 28-24 with 1:16 to go in the third quarter.
"Kyle threw an awesome ball," Jackolski said. "I knew that if I could beat the safety, we'd score."
Said Essington, "Coach Priore and (Offensive Coordinator) Coach Behrman drew up a great play. Brock's such a great player that I knew he'd come down with it."
Down 28-24, Stony Brook stalled a third straight UAlbany drive. Just before the end of the third quarter, Essington found junior Kevin Norrell down the sideline for a 38-yard gain to the UAlbany 42. Four plays later, Jackolski, with the help of a great block from sophomore Matt Faiella, took it 11 yards for the touchdown and Stony Brook's first lead of the game, 31-28, with 12:40 left in the fourth.
UAlbany was held scoreless for the final 28:25 of the game. Di Lella completed 11 of 25 for 77 yards after the Great Danes 18-point lead. The Great Danes final six drives of the game ended in either a punt or an interception.
Junior Miguel Maysonet rushed for 75 yards on 22 carries, becoming the Big South's all-time single-season rushing leader with 1,560 yards.
Jackolski finished the game with 232 all-purpose yards, giving him 2,286 for the season. That figure already ranks as the most in a season in Conference history. It also was his fifth multi-touchdown game of the season, the most in the Big South this season.