SEMO’s historic season continues with 28-14 playoff win
With 28 points in the third quarter, Southeast captured its first ever FCS playoff victory in a 28-14 home win over Stony Brook on Saturday, Nov. 24.
Southeast football used a huge 28-point third quarter to capture its first ever FCS playoff victory in a 28-14 home win over Stony Brook on Saturday, Nov. 24.
The win was the team’s ninth on the season, tying the SEMO record for most wins in a season. With the comeback win, the team also improved to 6-0 at Houck Field during the 2018 season.
With this victory, the Redhawks advance in the NCAA Division I Football Championship to play No. 2 Weber State in the second round.
The first period of play was a tough struggle for both teams, as No. 20 Southeast punted four times and No. 15 Stony Brook punted three times and fumbled once, which was recovered by junior outside linebacker Justin Swift.
SEMO faced a 14-0 halftime deficit that came from strong passing from the normally run-heavy Stony Brook. Senior quarterback Joe Carbone had 211 yards and one touchdown on 15-of-21 passing in the first half.
Senior running back Donald Liotine picked up the first Seawolves score on a 2-yard plunge with 6:37 remaining in the second quarter, then Carbone connected with redshirt-senior receiver Julius Wingate on a 36-yard touchdown pass with just under two minutes left in the half.
“I told [the team] at halftime, ‘This is the most important moment in program history,’” Southeast coach Tom Matukewicz said. “We were all feeling good about ourselves, all up in our feels about, ‘Oh, we’re hosting,’ and all of a sudden we got punched in the face, down 14 to nothing. We were trying to regroup, and I love how our football team decided to respond.”
Stony Brook came out of the break with the ball, but the Redhawks needed just 46 seconds to take possession, as Swift intercepted Carbone to give the Redhawks excellent field position. Just five plays later, junior quarterback Daniel Santacaterina would improvise and cut right up the middle on a 16-yard run to give Southeast its first score of the game and cut the lead to 14-7.
On the next Stony Brook possession, Carbone threw his second interception of the game, this time junior cornerback Taj Jenkins making the pick at the Stony brook 38.
On the ensuing possession, Santacaterina rushed for 13, 6 and 10 yards on the first three plays. Senior running back and Ohio Valley Conference Offensive Player of the Year Marquis Terry then rushed the ball to the 5, and Santacaterina then found junior receiver Kristian Wilkerson on a 5-yard touchdown pass to tie the game with 10:06 remaining in the third quarter.
Stony Brook’s woes continued with a three-and-out on its next possession. The ensuing punt travelled only 25 yards before bouncing out of bounds at the Stony Brook 40.
Three Stony Brook penalties brought the ball to the 9-yard line where Santacaterina would connect with junior receiver Jerrick Orr for the third score of the quarter, giving Southeast its first lead of the game, 21-14 with 7:40 left in the period.
Two plays later, Carbone was injured while sacked by the Redhawks and never returned. He was replaced by redshirt-sophomore Tyquell Fields, who played the remainder of the game.
Southeast punted on its next possession, but the ball was recovered by Redhawks senior linebacker Demarcus Rogers at the Stony Brook 38 after it bounced off the back of a Seawolf.
On the ensuing play, Santacaterina connected with Wilkerson for his third touchdown pass and a 28-14 lead with 3:38 left to go in the third quarter.
“That was one of the best third quarters of football I have ever been involved with,” Matukewicz said.
The fourth quarter was much like the first, with no scoring coming from either side. Stony Brook twice went for it on fourth down and failed two convert both times. Junior defensive tackle Ryan Ochoa sacked Fields on fourth-and-goal at the Southeast 9 to seal the game before Terry ran the clock out.
“It was special, one of the best moments I can remember playing football,” Santacaterina said about the final seconds running off the clock. “Just looking all around the field we saw these excited people and our team. We gotta keep rolling, but obviously you have to savor this moment.”
Santacaterina finished the game with 136 yards and three touchdowns on 13-of-29 passing and added a score on the ground. He threw his 28th touchdown pass of the season in the third quarter, putting him one touchdown behind the school record of 29, set by Jack Tomco in 2002.
Terry led the Redhawks in rushing with 64 yards on 19 carries. Santacaterina was mobile as well, accumulating 35 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.
Wilkerson was once again Santacaterina’s favorite target as he hauled in five receptions and a pair of touchdowns while covering 57 yards. Sophomore receiver Zack Smith added 50 yards on three catches.
Stony Brook’s Wingate had 143 yards and a touchdown on eight catches for the Seawolves, who finished with 404 yards of offense.
Junior inside linebacker Zach Hall led the Redhawks defense with 13 tackles, giving him 163 in 2018 and breaking the SEMO single-season record previously set by Blake Peiffer in 2011. Swift followed with 12 tackles.
SEMO will travel to Ogden, Utah, to face the Weber State Wildcats on Dec. 1.