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Stony Brook Football Serves Notice: “We’re Back!”

September 12, 2011

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729 days.

That’s how long it had been since the Stony Brook football team victoriously strode off of a field. On September 11, 2009 the Bears opened their season with a rain-soaked victory at Mercy when Tory Abrahamsen found Lesedi Malete for a 60-yard touchdown with less then 2 minutes remaining in the 4th quarter. Since then 15 games have come and gone without the Johnston Hall bell being rung, including an 0-8 campaign last season. That all changed on Saturday afternoon as the Brook, clad in their brand-new jerseys, drilled the Wyandanch Warriors 38-20, giving head coach Kris Ryan and well-deserved inaugural victory. The victory not only soothed 2 years of gridiron frustration, but avenged last season’s 28-19 opening loss to the Warriors.

1st Quarter

Thoughts of an 18-point victory had to be furthest thing from the crowd’s mind after the Bears’ first two drives. Opening game jitters manifested themselves in several botched snaps and 2 fumbles while the Warriors were able to find the end zone to the delight of their infamously raucous crowd. Trailing 0-6, it was time for the Taylor Colucci experiment to be tested. On the first play out of a timeout quarterback Marco Masakayan threw a perfect ball to Colucci, one of Suffolk County’s fastest sprinters, for a 32-yard touchdown with 4:31 left in the quarter. It was the first catch of Colucci’s life, who, after years of dominating on the track, decided to try his hand at football in his senior year. So far we’re glad he did. The strike not only knotted the contest, but helped Colucci atone for an earlier fumble that ended a blue and white drive. Marco Masakayan then scrambled across the line on the two-point conversion to give the Brook an 8-6 lead.

On the ensuing kickoff Donnie Liotine, the heart and soul of the blue and white, served notice to both sides that the Bears had finally awoken. A Liotine tackle sounds differently that a hit from anyone else. It has a bone-jarring sound to it, as though his opponent’s sternum has just clicked against his own spine. This hit was no different as Liotine sized up the Warriors’ return man and drilled him just above the knees, sending him spinning end over end until he fell back to earth. Liotine’s helmet flew off in the melee but he calmly walked over and strapped it back on before his adversary could figure out on what planet he had come to rest.

The Stony Brook defense dug in on the Wyandanch drive, causing a turnover on downs that put the ball back into the savvy hands of Masakayan. With the ball on their own 23 yard line and time dwindling down in the opening quarter, Masakayan and Colucci struck again for a 77-yard strike with 00:00 showing on the scoreboard to give the blue and white a 14-6 edge. Colucci’s speed was on full display as he had to come back on a slightly underthrown ball, stop, catch it, turn around and accelerate toward the end zone. Despite not catching the ball in stride he was able to dust two Wyandanch cornerbacks the same way he does with his opponents in the 100 and 200 yard dashes. | 14-6

2nd Quarter

The Brooker defense continued its inspired play as they forced a fumble out of the scrambling quarterback, giving captain Wyatt Piazza the opportunity to pounce on his first of 2 fumble recoveries on the day. Piazza’s 2nd recovery came after a beautiful, high-arcing punt from the foot of Andrew White that bounced off the hands of the Wyandanch returner and right into the waiting arms of Piazza who had hustled into perfect position. The turnover would prove costly for the home team as the Bears marched into the red zone, highlighted by a powerful first down run by Will Adu-Krow. Masakayan finished off the scoring drive by zig-zagging 17 yards to paydirt and a commanding 20-6 lead with 5:10 left before the half.

With the Bears moving the ball well and the Wyandanch offense sputtering it looked like the Brook was going to cruise to victory, until Wyandanch took the ensuing kickoff back for a touchdown, slicing the lead to 20-12. On the next drive Liotine had back-to-back first downs, one on a catch and the other on a run, but the Bears were unable to capitalize. The Warriors got the ball back with a chance to tie the game before the half, but the blue and white defense was stalwart. White, taking a page out of Liotine’s book, annihilated a Warrior who had the misfortune of catching his quarterback’s screen pass. It was the kind of hit that Under Armour choreographs for its commercials as the player’s feet came off the ground before he crumpled into a pile of yellow and green. The hit, and Piazza’s interception a few plays later, fired up the sideline and gave the Bears some momentum heading into the break. | 20-12

3rd Quarter

The 3rd quarter was the pivotal period in this contest as both teams vied for control and it was the Bears, for the first time in nearly 2 years, who would snare it. After each team went scoreless in their opening drives, the Brook stopped Wyandanch and took over with the ball near midfield. The Bears found the end zone once again on a perfectly executed option play from Masakayan to Liotine for a 26-12 advantage with 8:51 left in the quarter. The Brook stuffed the Warrior attack again, prompting them to punt the ball to White, a decision they would come to regret. The shifty junior darted his way up the field, showcasing his incredible combination of speed, balance and athleticism, eluding tacklers from all sides on the way to a game-breaking score.

With a 32-12 lead the game was well in hand and the excitement of a season of possibilities was beginning the sweep over the sizable Stony Brook contingent that had made the trek. Those same fans were left holding their breath moments later when Masakayan, after a first down scramble, was hit late by a Warrior who struck him close to the sideline and continued to push him before pasting him into the hard surface of the track. The cheap shot resulted in a 15-yard penalty, but that seemed a paltry reward as Masakayan writhed on the ground in pain. Thankfully he was able to shake off the hit and even return to the contest in the 4th quarter, leaving the crowd free to dream once more. | 32-12

4th Quarter

Stony Brook’s offensive attack was not yet finished as the 4th quarter commenced. Just 1 play in Liotine scored for the 2nd time on the day as he bullied his way into the end zone, without the aid of his helmet that had jumped ship somewhere along the way, for a 38-12 edge. The “‘Danch” would score once more with 22 seconds left but it only succeeded in making the score slightly less lopsided as the Bears earned their first victory of the season. | 38-20

Marco Masakayan threw for 136 yards and two touchdowns and Taylor Colucci had two receptions for 109 yards and two TDs to lead Stony Brook (1-0). Don Liotine had nine tackles and Nick Pizzichillo had two sacks.

~ Newsday

Impressions

It was a day of which any Brooker would be proud. It was a total team victory as individuals at every position stepped up when called upon and filled their role. Our offensive weapons were on full display, but the unheralded defense set the stage for the victory. Piazza was brilliant with 2 fumble recoveries and a sack, Nick Pizzichillo chased the quarterback all day and engineered 2 sacks, Spencer Cannon stopped up the Wyandanch run and earned a sack himself, Jake Harrington was a force inside all day and Liotine made bone-crunching hits at every turn. Perhaps the most exciting part of the victory was what happened after the final seconds ticked off the board. There was not a wild, cathartic celebration as a 15-game monkey was removed from their shoulder pads. They simply strode to midfield and awaited Wyandanch for a post game hand shake. They acted as though it was business as usual for Stony Brook football. They acted like they expected to win and it showed, a swagger that we haven’t seen around these parts in quite sometime.

We could also be proud of how our boys went about the victory. While the Wyandanch players had a mouthful to say after every meager play, Pizzichillo and Piazza could be seen helping their opponents up after delivering a hit. Toward the end of the game, with tensions running high after the hit on Masakayan, White walked away from a Wyandanch player who was spewing vitriol right into his face mask. Who ever said you couldn’t be tough, unrelenting and sportsmanlike?

Finally, it was a special afternoon because it was a day before the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks. As we watched our boys run around in the mid-September sun we couldn’t help but smile. Terrorists had tried to alter our way of life, but they only succeeded in making us a stronger people.

The Bears will face rival Mercy in the home opener this Friday night 9/16 @ 7:30pm.

Notes

This is not the first time we’ve snapped a string of futility against “The ‘Danch.”  In 2002 we ended a 24-game losing streak in a 14-12 victory over the Warriors on a rainsoaked Fitch Field.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 12, 2011 8:04 AM

    A win well-deserved and well-earned by coach and team. Faithfulness and belief rewarded.

    And thanks for the exciting reporting. I feel as if I were there, and it makes me wish I had been.

    Like

  2. Anonymous permalink
    September 12, 2011 3:36 PM

    Wow.. sounds like Andrew White and Cris Damianos messed people up!

    Like

  3. Diego Vega permalink
    September 12, 2011 4:00 PM

    I happened to be in Long Island for the day, and I’m so glad that i had a chance to see the first half of this game in person! As Dan wrote – the sound of Don Liotine leveling Wyandanch player after Wyandanch player was unbelieveble. For those fom my era (1974-1980), it reminded me of some of Jon Davis’s hits – Just BOOOM!! I was hanging with Don’s Dad and uncle for long stretches of the game, and none of us could contain our giggles, head shakes, and a few OMG’s from the sheer sound of Don running right through and pasting people! He was just BLOWING opponents UP!

    Is Taylor Colucci fast? Holy smokes!! He appeared to have jets in his shoes as he left the entire Wyandanch secondary in his wake during his 2 TD’s… I was actually speaking with his Mom and Uncle as he flew by on TD number 2 and the smile on his Mom’s face was PRICELESS!

    Last thoughts – fo those that saw the game – How Hard did Andrew White stick that guy on the 2nd Quarter screen pass… I would have sworn it was Liotine! All I heard was the SMACK and both crowds going Oooooooo… I bet that kid is still wobbling around somewhere…

    Congrats on a great team win!

    Diego Vega
    SBS Alumni President
    SBS Class of 1980
    Hall of Fame Inductee – 2010

    Like

    • September 12, 2011 4:58 PM

      I’m so glad you got to see the game Diego and thanks for your lengthy comment that recapped your thoughts. You might be our lucky charm! Hopefully we’ll see you at another game this season.

      Like

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