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Late Touchdown Lifts Stony Brook over LU

November 21, 2009  Stony Brook, N.Y.  RSS
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Will Quarles scored his fourth touchdown of the season during Liberty's setback to Stony Brook.

Will Quarles scored his fourth touchdown of the season during Liberty's setback to Stony Brook.

Both teams managed to find the end zone during the last minute of the game, but homestanding Stony Brook was able to score last, claiming a 36-33 back-and-forth battle over Liberty, Saturday afternoon, at LaValle Stadium.

With the victory, Stony Brook finishes the season with the same Big South record as the Flames, 5-1, giving each team a share of the Big South title. This marks the second time in conference history the title has been shared by two programs, as Charleston Southern and Coastal Carolina also finished the 2005 season with identical records.

The loss completes the Flames season at 8-3 overall and 5-1 in Big South Conference play, and gives Liberty its third-straight Big South title.

The season-ending setback to the Seawolves snaps Liberty's 16-game Big South unbeaten streak, which was the longest winning streak in league history and was the third-longest active winning streak in the country coming into the weekend.

The victory completes Stony Brook's season at 6-5 and 5-1 in Big South play and allows the Seawolves to finish the 2009 campaign with a perfect 4-0 record inside LaValle Stadium.

The two teams traded quick possessions to open the game, but the second pinned Liberty deep in its own territory.

Forced to punt from within his own end zone, Mike Larsson's 37-yarder gave the home Seawolves the ball near midfield. It took Stony Brook just one play to return the ball to the end zone, as Edwin Gowins found a gap and outran several Liberty tacklers for a 52-yard touchdown run.

The scoring burst, at 10:10 of the first quarter, gave Stony Brook a 7-0 lead and Liberty's opponent a 50-plus yard touchdown run for the second week in a row.

The score remained the same until six minutes later, when Liberty's Tommy Beecher found Will Quarles open for a 34-yard touchdown strike on the far side of the field at the 4:18 mark.

The play prior to Quarles picking up his fourth touchdown reception of the season, Beecher helped the Flames move the chains and keep the scoring drive alive. On a third-and-seven play, Beecher scrambled outside the pocket and picked up eight yards for the first down.

The senior hurler was able to get to the ground which forced him to cough up the football, but he was ruled down to allow the Flames to keep the ball. The shaken quarterback then regrouped to throw his eighth touchdown pass of the year and the fourth in two weeks.

However, the Seawolves quickly answered back, marching down the field 80 yards to push their lead to 14-7 on the second play of the second quarter.

On the 10th play of the scoring drive, Gowins was given the ball and the sophomore broke two tackles to score from 11 yards out, giving the tailback his second rushing touchdown of the game and his eighth of the season with 14:28 left before intermission.

The back and forth scoring continued, but this time the Flames were only able to cut into their host's lead, as Matt Bevins knocked down a 31-yard field goal to trim the score to 14-10 at the 10:01 mark.

Bevins' national leading 21st field goal would not have been possible, if it were not for a key play from Liberty's Mike Brown. The sophomore took the snap from center and looked like he was going to get tackled in the backfield, but he scrambled and was able to pick 25 yards and put the Flames on the Stony Brook side of the field.

The potent rushing attack of Stony Brook continued to keep the momentum on the side of the home team, as the tandem of Gowins and Conte Cuttino helped push the scored to 21-10 with 4:28 left before halftime.

The pair was responsible for 66 yards on the 76-yard scoring drive, including two keys runs by Cuttino. The senior moved the ball into the red zone with a 22-yard burst, as he quickly got to the outside and found some running room. Two plays later, Stony Brook repeated the formation and Cuttino was able to scamper in the end zone for the score.

Liberty looked like it was going to answer right back, as Aaron Hewlett picked up his second kickoff return for a touchdown on the next play. But the 66-yard return was waved off due to a holding penalty during the return.

The Flames did manage to add points to the scoreboard before the clock round out to all zeros, as Bevins capped off a 13-play, 50-yard drive with a 35-yard field goal as time expired, allowing the home squad to run into the locker with a 21-13 lead.

Stony Brook won the first half statistical battle in almost every category, beginning with a 217 to 145 total offensive yard edge. The Seawolves easily moved the ball on the ground, rushing 22 times for 173 yards. Liberty's rushing attack was held to just 26 yards on 13 carries.

The running back tandem of Gowins and Cuttino were the leaders for Stony Brook, as Gowins picked up 102 yards on 10 carries and Cuttino added 71 yards on 12 plays.

Beecher was responsible for most of Liberty's offensive push in the first half, as the quarterback completed 12-of-17 passing attempts for 119 yards and the one scoring pass.

Following two defensively dominated drives to open the third quarter, Liberty was able to continue to cut into Stony Brooks lead midway through the third quarter.

A three-and-out series that saw Stony Brook lose four yards, helped give the Flames prime field position at the Stony Brook 48-yard line after a 33-yard punt.

The next four plays all saw the Flames pick up significant yardage, as each helped Liberty gain at least seven yards.

After a pair of runs by Beecher (11 yards) and Hewlett (seven yards), Beecher found B.J. Hayes open on the near side line for a 13-yard sideline route. SirChauncey Holloway picked up the final 17 yards of the 48-yard drive.

The freshman burst up the middle to score his seven rushing touchdown of the season at 7:03 of the third quarter. Liberty chose to go for two on the point after attempt, but Beecher's slant pass to Freddie Brown fell incomplete, leaving the score at 21-19.

After another stand by Liberty's defense, the Flames once again deemed to score with a lengthy play. Beecher found a wide open Quarles over the middle of the field for a 69-yard reception with 2:24 left in the third. But the play was called back, as the tight end was not an eligible receiver.

The score remained the same until the 11:28 mark of the fourth quarter, when Liberty found the end zone on another lengthy play, and this time no penalty flags negated the yardage.

On a third-and-one play at the Liberty 30-yard line, Mike Brown took another direct snap. The sophomore bounced off one of his offensive linemen to pick up the first-down yardage, but was able to stay up and outrun three Stony Brook defenders chasing him, as he scored on a 70-yard rushing play to give Liberty the 26-21 lead.

The big play battle continued the ensuing drive, allowing Stony Brook to take a 29-26 lead with 8:34 left in the fourth quarter.

A 14-yard rush by Michael Coulter followed by a 15-yard passing play from the quarterback to Michael Lepore, set up a 42-yard bounding run up the middle of the field by Gowins. The scamper gave last year's Big South Freshman of the Year his third score of the game and the home team a three-point lead with the clock winding down.

The two teams traded possession over the next six minutes of play, which ended up giving the Flames the ball at their own 22-yard line with 2:36 left on the game clock.

Beecher quickly moved the Flames down field, completing all four of his pass attempts on the drive, but it was a 31-yard scamper by the senior quarterback which proved to be the drive's defining play as it got the Flames into the red zone.

Two plays later, Beecher rolled out and found Dominique Jones over the middle of the field and the senior managed to stretch out his arms, allowing the nose of the football to cross the goal line for a 33-29 Liberty lead with just 55 seconds left on the clock.

However, Coulter matched his counterpart and managed to move his squad down the field 74 yards in just 18 seconds.

After an incomplete pass to the near side of the field, the quarterback found Jordan Gush open on the far side of the field, as the wide out picked up 64 yards on the deep pass play to move the Seawolves to the 10-yard line with 34 seconds remaining.

On the ensuing play, Coulter found Gush open again, this time on a 10-yard dart just over the goal line, pushing the lead back to Stony Brook, 36-33, with 30 seconds remaining.

Liberty tried to answer back and quickly move the ball down field, but the visitors ran out of time, as the Flames had to resort to a last-second deep pass downfield by Beecher, that was intercepted by Benjamin Clements to seal the shared Big South title for Stony Brook.

Liberty did manage to outgain the Seawolves, 433 to 405 total offensive yards, but it was the 248 rushing yards the Flames allowed that proved to be the game's deciding factor. The Seawolves averaged 6.2 yards per rushing attempt and scored four of their five touchdowns via their rushing attack.

Gowins was the offensive star on either team's roster, as the running back rushed for 165 yards and three touchdowns for Stony Brook, followed by Cuttino for the Seawolves with 89 yards and a score.

Liberty's two leading rushers were Beecher and Mike Brown, as Brown carried the ball seven times for 99 yards and a score, while Beecher picked up 70 yards on nine carries.

Beecher completed 24-of-38 passing attempts for 220 yards and two touchdown passes, while his interception on the game's final play snapped a stretch of five games without throwing a pick. Coulter countered Beecher's efforts by completing 10-of-17 passing attempts for 157 yards and one scoring pass.

Chris Summers was Liberty's leading receiver with seven catches for 50 yards, while Mike Brown finished the day with six receptions for a team-high 57 receiving yards.

Gush ended up being the Seawolves leading receiver, thanks to Stony Brook's last scoring drive, as he caught three passes for 88 yards and the game-deciding touchdown pass.

Arin West was the leading tackler on either squad, as he finished the game with 10 tackles for Stony Brook, followed on his own roster by Chris Richards with nine stops. Both Seawolves tacklers finished the game with six solo tackles.

Liberty's leading defender were Chris Rocco and Chad Brown, as the pair finished the contests with nine stops apiece.

The loss brings to a close the most successful four-year run of any senior class in program history. This year's graduating class of 20 seniors finished their careers with a 33-13 record, which was six more wins than the 1997 and 1998 graduating class which won 27 games during the stellar careers.