In a hard fought Big South Conference football game that came down to the wire, senior Conte Cuttino’s touchdown run with 52 seconds left erased a VMI comeback and gave the Seawolves a 27-20 win. Cuttino finished with 85 yards while sophomore Michael Coulter threw for 316 yards and two scores as the Seawolves remain undefeated in the Big South at 2-0, improving to 3-4 overall. VMI fell to 1-5 and 0-3 with the loss.
After both teams were stopped on their opening dive, SB took over on its own 20 after a VMI punt into the end zone and drove the length of the field. Coulter finished off the 80-yard drive with a 20-yard pass to redshirt freshman Jordan Gush, his fourth TD reception of the season. The extra point was missed, however, leaving SB with a 6-0 lead with 7:35 left in the quarter.
A pair of mistakes, one by each team, then played a part on the next two possessions. VMI drove deep into SB territory, but a bad pitch was recovered by redshirt freshman Dominick Reyes at the Seawolves’ 19. VMI stopped the SB drive and then came up with a big play, blocking the SB punt attempt and recovering the ball on the SB 19. The Keydets wasted no time as Tim Maypray took it in on the next play; the ensuing kick giving VMI a 7-6 lead.
SB’s offense, which held the ball for 20:02 and gained 292 yards in the first half, answered the VMI score on its first possession of the second quarter. The Seawolves drove 69 yards in 12 plays, getting a four-yard scoring toss from Coulter to sophomore Matt Brevi that put the Seawolves back on top by a 13-7 margin at the 9:49 mark. The rest of the quarter the SB defense, which held VMI to 121 yards, kept the Keydets in check and held them in their own end of the field. Getting the ball back with less than two minutes left in the half, Coulter’s passing put the Seawolves in position for a field goal and redshirt freshman Wesley Skiffington came through, knocking a line-drive through from 24 yards out to push the SB advantage to 16-7 at the half.
After a scoreless third quarter that saw SB gain just 51 yards and VMI 81, the Keydets struck quickly early in the fourth quarter when they picked up good field position near midfield after an SB punt and took just three plays to score. It was Maypray that victimized the SB defense, scampering 30 yards to pull his team to within two at 16-14 with 14:53 to play
Skiffington came back and booted another field goal, this one from 21 yards away to increase the SB lead to five with 6:47 left. The kick was a record setter, as it was Skiffington’s 11th of the season, tying the old mark of 11 held by Bob Burden (’89) during the 1986 season.
On VMI’s next possession, Maypray returned the kickoff 19 yards out to the VMI 31. After a 22-yard run by Howard Abegesah, VMI quarterback Kyle Hughes accounted for the final 47 yards of a Keydet scoring drive, 28 through the air and 19 on the ground, and scored the go-ahead touchdown with 2:56 left on a one-yard sneak. The VMI attempt for two failed, however, leaving the Keydets just a one-point lead at 20-19.
Brevi put SB in excellent field position when he took the kickoff back 31 yards into VMI territory at the 49. From there Coulter hit Cuttino for a first down pass play. After an incompletion, Coulter hit senior Stephan Towns on three straight plays, getting the Seawolves down to the VMI 13 with 52 seconds left. Cuttino then found a hole in the left side of the line and took it in from there for what turned out to be the game-winning score. Coulter hit junior Donald Porter for the two-point conversion that made it 27-20.
VMI did not go away, however, as the Keydets drove the ball into SB territory down to the 35, but a sack by senior Ryan Sollazzo forced VMI into a pass attempt in the final 10 seconds that was intercepted by senior Chris Richards that sealed the win.
Towns led the SB receiving corps with career highs of 11 catches for 112 yards. Brevi finished with 70 yards in receptions and 72 in kick returns for the Seawolves, while Reyes led the defense with 11 tackles. Sollazzo finished with three tackles for losses totaling eight yards. Maypray led VMI with 86 yards on the ground and 124 yards in kick and punt returns.
After two games away, Stony Brook returns home next week when it will host Coastal Carolina at 3:30 pm in LaValle Stadium. The game will be carried live on TV on the Middle Atlantic Sports Network (MASN).