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Stony Brook one win away from automatic playoff bid

By Andrew Gaddess, FCS Assistant

Stony Brook, NY (Sports Network) - Stony Brook, New York, located on the picturesque North Shore of Long Island, isn't exactly a hotbed of commercial or industrial activity. It is a quaint town, which, of course, contributes to the appeal.

In terms of attractions, there aren't many that distinguish themselves. There are the beaches, The Long Island Museum of American Art, History and Carriages, the Stony Brook Grist Mill and the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

The latter attraction, commonly know as Stony Brook University, is aiming to secure something else that this charming town can hang its hat on.

With today's 55-3 trouncing of Gardner-Webb, The Stony Brook Seawolves moved one step closer to securing the Big South's first-ever automatic FCS playoff bid.

Standing in the way: a November 20 date with conference juggernaut Liberty.

The Flames lost today, 45-31, to Coastal Carolina, dropping their conference record to 4-1. For Stony Brook, the scenario is simple: win and you're in.

Last year, the teams met under similar circumstances. On Nov. 20, 2009, Stony Brook defeated Liberty, 36-33, to secure a share of the Big South title. There was no automatic playoff bid on the line, but the win was significant nonetheless. It ended Liberty's 16-game conference winning streak and more importantly, proved that the bullies of the Big South were beatable. The Seawolves planted a seed of hope with that win, nurtured it throughout a successful 2010 campaign, and can reap the fruits of their labor with a win next Saturday.

"Well, certainly, the unknown is there that we can win," said head coach Chuck Priore when asked if last year's win has instilled the current team with confidence. "Totally different situation though..different players, it will be a different crowd situation, I know they will bring it to the table that way."

Yes, the game is at Liberty, and though some things have changed, the Flames are still considered the team to beat in the Big South. They are led by Walter Payton Award (sponsored by Fathead.com) candidate Mike Brown and have one of the better overall defenses in the conference. Today's loss included, the Flames are 20-4 in Big South play under head coach Danny Rocco and over the last five seasons have posted a 12-3 record in the month of November.

Last year, two-time All-Big South first team running back Edwin Gowins was pivotal in the Seawolves' victory over the Flames, running for 165 yards and three touchdowns. This year, Gowins has given way to Hofstra transfers Brock Jackolski and Miguel Maysonet and they have picked up exactly where he left off. With Jackolski's 131 yards today, the two became the first duo at any Division I level this season to each compile over 1,000 yards rushing. Their continued production will be crucial come next week.

"It would definitely be a great feeling for me and Brock (Jackolski)," said Maysonet on the prospect of the two transfers helping Stony Brook reach the playoffs. "If me and (Jackolski) carry the team, bring us to the national championship or whatever..."

Maysonet may be getting ahead of himself, but the vibe coming from this group of players is obvious. They are confident, and today's win over Gardner-Webb only bolstered that confidence.

"We put up 55 points, that's definitely great momentum for us, on our part, to go against Liberty next week," said Maysonet.

And while the group is confident, that does not make them arrogant. They are aware of the challenge that lies ahead.

"It's going to be tough," said wide receiver Matt Brevi. "Liberty is a great team, they are well coached, they have talented athletes. I just think we are finally playing as a unit. In the beginning of the season, and the year before, it would be one side of the ball doing good, the other side trying to catch up. Right now, after the big win...it gives our defense and our coaches and our players all the momentum, and going into Liberty, I think we have a really great shot."

In terms of generating town pride and recognition, a win over Liberty and an FCS playoff berth for the local university would be a welcome occurrence.

Still, if the Seawolves don't take home the title, there's always Dee Snider. The lead singer of the 80's hair band Twisted Sister is listed as a notable resident.

In that case, let's hope the Seawolves take home the title.

11/13 18:32:35 ET