Monday, November 14, 2016

Maine Black Bears 27 at Stony Brook Seawolves 21 (NCAA Football, CAA) - November 12, 2016


College football in the New York City area is relatively rare. Only three schools within city limits compete in the sport (Fordham, Columbia, Wagner) and I’ve been to all of them, so now I have to look farther afield to add to my collegiate gridiron count, which began the weekend at a paltry 12.



The next closest school with a football team is Stony Brook on Long Island. I’ve already been there for a couple of basketball games, but in those cases I used the Long Island Railroad, which limited my ability to see more of the area. This time, I decided to rent a car for the long weekend which gave my wife and I the opportunity to see the Hamptons on Friday and Sunday.



Saturday however was for football. After a stop at the Long Island Museum and its collection of horse-drawn carriages (more intriguing than expected) we headed over to the Stony Brook campus, where parking is free off Circle Road on the other side of the LIRR station.



From there, it is a short walk to Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium, home of the Seawolves. Fellow sports fans Gary, Eddie, Jeremy and Michelle joined us on this day; while we were waiting for them, the visiting Maine Black Bears made their way to the field from the locker room (above).



The stadium was opened in 2002 and named for a New York state senator who helped acquire financing for its construction. The east side of the stadium has a second level which is in the sun for much of the game, a benefit on a chilly afternoon (above). Some seats here are box seats, while others are GA benches. The opposite side has about 10 rows of benches from end zone to end zone and is behind the visiting bench (below), while the south side has two levels as well that are shaded for the whole game.



Tickets are $12 and assign you to a section but no row or seat, i.e. general admission within the section, which is something I hadn’t seen before. There are actually ushers at every stairway checking tickets, even though there were plenty of empty seats.



Concessions are basic but affordable, with hot dogs going for $4. Of course, no beer is sold as this is a campus venue. We sat behind the Maine bench for the first half but moved to the upper level for the second half to enjoy the warmth of the sun. This also gave us a chance to watch the band’s halftime show, which included a vocal rendition of “God Bless the U.S.A” with one of the band members belting out the tune, something I had not seen before from a college band, which is usually limited to instrumentals.



Overall, LaValle is a basic football stadium that gets high points for affordability and ease of access, either via public transit or your car. There’s not much around the area, but Port Jefferson is just one stop away and has a number of waterfront restaurants. If you have a vehicle, you can find yourself in Hamptons wine country in under 30 minutes. Certainly worth a trip for anyone visiting New York and looking to attend a sporting event away from the city.

The Game

Stony Brook was hosting Maine on Senior Day in a Colonial Athletic Association battle (both schools are in the America East but that conference doesn’t sponsor football). Each was 4-2 in conference and 5-4 overall, but the Seawolves had lost starting QB Joe Carbone the previous week, so Pat Irwin made his first career start. He couldn’t do much, completing only 1 pass in the first half, while Maine was able to score on a couple of long drives and also had a fumble return touchdown. A conversion was missed so the Black Bears had a 21-0 lead at the break.



Early in the third quarter, Maine QB Dan Collins found freshman Josh Mack on a short pass and Mack rumbled 21 yards to make it 27-0. It sure looked like the game was over, but Stony Brook rallied as Irwin finally found his rhythm, leading the offense down the field on a couple of big passes. Donald Liotine score on a 1-yard run to break the shutout and give the home fans something to cheer about. On Maine’s next possession, Collins was picked off by Travon Reid-Segure who jogged into the end zone and suddenly Maine looked worried. When Liotine scored on a 50-yard run early in the fourth, it brought the Seawolves to within 6 points. But their last two drives saw them play like they had in the first half and they never threatened again as Maine won 27-21, eliminated Stony Brook from playoff contention.



Mack was the star of the game with 157 yards on the ground, 28 yards receiving, and 2 touchdowns.

Notes



We visited Montauk on Sunday and enjoyed some time at Montauk Point, the easternmost point of Long Island. The lighthouse is the prime attraction, but there is a beach below that is easily accessible.



Right next to this is Camp Hero, an abandoned base that is now a State Park and still has the remnants of a large radar, and several hiking trails on which you may find hidden entrances to the old base.



Finally, make sure to visit Montauk Brewing Company for some great craft beer. All in all, a weekend combination of eastern Long Island and a Stony Brook game is an excellent way to spend a fall weekend.

Best,

Sean

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