The Stony Brook Bears opened their 89th football season today beneath sunny skies in Wyandanch. It was a Division IV matchup of the #10 Warriors and the #11 Bears and there was plenty of action though the outcome was a sad one for Brooker fans. The offense moved the ball well in their first game, but turnovers, penalties, and defensive lapses spelled our undoing in a 28-19 defeat.
The first quarter began well as the Blue and White, led by sophomore quarterback Marco Masakayan, methodically marched down the field. The boys moved the chains four times, once on a 4th down try, and ended the drive with a sneak by Masakayan to take a 6-0 lead. The PAT sailed wide right. The Bears had little time to enjoy their lead as the Warriors knifed through the Brooker defense on their opening drive. The green and gold ripped off three long runs and overcame two fumbles to knot the score at 6-6. A 2two-point conversion gave them an 8-6 lead to end the quarter. | 6-8
The Bears’ second offensive possession began with a nice run by captain Tank Ekokobe, but a Wyandanch interception on the next play impeded our chance to take back the lead. Jerome Washington made a great hustle play to strip the ball as a Warrior attempted to run the ball down the field after the interception, but a tough call allowed the hosts to retain the ball. The Stony Brook defense looked much sharper this time around as both Don Liotine and Andrew White delivered bone-jarring hits to stall their advance and force a punt. Masakayan began the third drive with a pair of completions, but a fumble on a rushing play handed the ball back to “the ‘Danch.” The green and gold once again moved the ball with ease as the Bears continued to struggle with their reverses. The drive culminated in a touchdown. Washington intercepted their two-point conversion attempt to leave the score at 6-14.
Stony Brook’s fourth possession resulted in a third straight turnover as an errant throw found its way into the arms of a Warrior who ran it back for what appeared to be a touchdown, but a blocking in the back penalty negated the score. It appeared luck was finally smiling on the Bears as Wyandanch fumbled on the very next play for their first turnover. With little time left in the half the Stony Brook offense regained the form of its opening drive as Liotine ran for a first down and Masakayan hit Wyatt Piazza for two more chain-moving plays. Then, in the play of the game for the Bears, Masakayan found Piazza for a 35-yard touchdown with 8 seconds left in the half. The two-point conversion attempt failed, but it appeared the Brook would go into the break with a large chunk of the momentum. However, on the ensuing kickoff, the Warriors took it all the way downfield for a score with 00:00 showing on the clock to break the backs of the Bears. The two-point conversion was successful. | 12-22
Wyandanch began the half with possession and almost immediately fumbled it for the sixth time of the game, recovering it for the fifth time. Liotine had a big tackle on a 4th down run that gave the Bears the ball back. The Brook sliced through the Warrior resistance on the ensuing drive, grabbing three 1st downs on a pass from Masakayan to Washington, a 20-yard run by Liotine, and a sneak by Masakayan that put the ball on the 3-yard line. Liotine ran it in from there and converted the extra point to cut the deficit to 19-22. The Warriors looked poised to answer on their next possession, getting two first downs in quick succession, but the drive was abruptly ended with their seventh fumble, this time recovered by the Bears in what appeared to be a huge momentum swing. However, just as the Brook felt like they had gained the upper hand, disaster struck. On the very next play the Blue and White put the ball on the ground, giving it right back to their opponents to end the third. | 19-22
The ‘Danch moved the ball into the red zone, but the Stony Brook line forced a 4th and goal. In the most important play of the game it was the Warriors who seized the opportunity, scoring a crucial touchdown on their first pass attempt of the day. The Bears came right back as Masakayan ran for two 1st downs, the second for 15 yards plus a 15-yard personal foul penalty on a late hit that gave Stony Brook the ball deep in enemy territory. Liotine then ran for what should have been a 1st down, placing Stony Brook in the red zone, but a penalty brought the run back and stalled the drive. Stony Brook eventually squandered the crucial possession with a turnover on downs. Wyandanch ran much of the remaining time off of the clock with their ground game, earning the victory. | 19-28
The most frustrating thing about this loss is that we were the better team. We were better coached, had a more diversified offense, and could have come out the victors had a handful of plays unfolded differently. We had more first downs and more completions, but we also had more turnovers (4-2). Untimely penalties also hurt us, but those things are to be expected with a young team. Our defense looked strong in spots, but for long stretches had trouble tackling and plugging up the enemy’s run. Wyandanch’s yards after contact is sure to be an ugly stat, but along with these negatives some positive things still shone.
Masakayan was very effective in his first start and showed savvy in his employment of the option offense. He finished with 12 completions on 18 attempts for 131 yards and a touchdown. Liotine was everywhere and was our most dynamic player to watch on both sides of the ball, rushing for 143 yards (averaging over 9.5 yards per carry) and a touchdown and making several important tackles. Piazza was our leading receiver with 6 catches for 81 yards and a touchdown, showing good instincts on his routes. Our offense moved the ball for what Coach Sean Riley thought was over 300 yards, and already appears to be much more potent than last year’s unit. If the defense can continue to improve this could be a very fun team to watch this year, because whether they are winning or losing this team plays with passion.