he Stony Brook University Seawolves came into Saturday’s game the No. 20 ranked team in the FCS. But the Wildcats still weren’t spooked.
Freshmen Quinlen Dean and Prince Smith Jr. combined to force five turnovers to lead the Wildcats to a big statement win against Stony Brook, 43-14.
Smith Jr. intercepted Stony Brook quarterback Joe Carbone twice in the first half, including a 43-yard touchdown return after intercepting Carbone’s second pass attempt of the game. The freshman now leads the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) with five interceptions on the season. Dean intercepted Carbone twice in the third quarter and recovered a fumble that he forced from Stacey Bedell to round out an excellent performance from the UNH defense.
“We needed to play very good defense to give our offense a chance to get some opportunities and we did that today,” UNH coach Sean McDonnell said after the win.
The Wildcat offense turned Dean’s interceptions into fourteen points as Trevor Knight found fellow sophomore Neil O’Connor in the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown and ran one in for a 1-yard touchdown extending UNH’s 15-7 halftime lead to 29-7. Knight had arguably his best performance of the year so far as he threw for three touchdowns in addition to his rushing touchdown and didn’t throw an interception against a vaunted Stony Brook defense.
The Seawolves came to Durham not allowing a touchdown in their last 10 quarters played but Knight commandeered a touchdown drive on the opening possession capping it off with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Dalton Crossan to put the ‘Cats up 7-0. After Smith Jr.’s pick-six made it 13-0 UNH, McDonnell dialed up a trick play as O’Connor threw it to defensive end Kyle Reisert to make the lead 15-0 with 10:27 remaining in the first quarter.
After Carbone found his wide receiver Tim Keith for a 38-yard touchdown to cut the UNH lead to 29-14, senior captain Casey DeAndrade took the ensuing kickoff back 91 yards to the Stony Brook 6-yard line. On the next play Knight hit redshirt freshman Malik Love for his first receiving touchdown of his UNH career. Love led the team with six receptions and 51 yards against the Seawolves.
The UNH offense capped off their efficient outing with a 14-yard touchdown run from Crossan as he took the direct snap, faked the handoff to Knight and ran down the left side to score. Crossan’s touchdown and O’Connor’s two-point conversion pass were two of many creative play calls McDonnell made that worked out on Saturday. Crossan led the Wildcats with 68 rushing yards while Stony Brook outgained UNH by 49 yards and dominated the time of possession yet the ‘Cats were the superior team thanks to the playmaking abilities of Dean and Smith Jr.
“I just saw the ball coming over my head and I just tried to be an athlete,” Dean said about his second interception of Carbone.
The Seawolves’ senior running back Bedell came into the game versus UNH leading Stony Brook with 605 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. The stout Wildcat defense held Bedell to 15 yards on 12 carries as the Seawolves averaged 2.3 yards per carry as a team. The Seawolves had struggled passing the ball so far this season coming into the game. Carbone had thrown six interceptions and on touchdown before playing the Wildcats and adding four more interceptions to his total. Smith Jr.’s second grab came on Stony Brook’s final possession of the first half to keep the Wildcats ahead 15-7 at the half.
“We wanted to stop the run and we did it. We wanted them to throw the football and our guys made some plays,” McDonnell said.
The Wildcats are off this week as they prepare for their final home game on Nov. 12 against the University at Albany at 12 p.m. With just two games remaining in the season UNH is 5-1 in the CAA and still in contention for a playoff berth for what would be the 13th straight season. Albany is 2-3 in CAA play and will host the University of Delaware next week before visiting Wildcat Stadium in what could be the final home game for the UNH seniors.