Stony Brook, NY – Stony Brook's quick-strike offense finally found another gear.
After Stony Brook was contained for the first 2 1/2 quarters, Brock Jackolski scored three straight touchdowns in a 6-minute, 30-span of the third and fourth quarters to rally the Seawolves past upset-minded Albany, 31-28, Saturday in the first round of the FCS playoffs.
The Seawolves (9-3), who have won nine straight games, next take on Southland Conference champion and No. 1 seed Sam Houston State (11-0) in a second-round match-up Dec. 3 in Huntsville, Texas (3 p.m. ET. kickoff).
Stony Brook's win was the first in the playoffs for a Big South program. The Big South and Northeast Conference, where Albany shared the title with Duquesne, both gained automatic bids to the playoffs last year.
Albany 42nd-year coach Bob Ford appeared on his way to beating his coaching disciple, Stony Brook's Chuck Priore, when the Great Danes (8-4) built a 28-10 lead in the third quarter. But the Seawolves rallied out of the deficit.
Jackolski scored on a 6-yard run with 4:10 remaining in the quarter to cut Albany's lead to 28-17.
Donald Porter then returned an interception of Albany quarterback Dan Di Lella to the Stony Brook 47. After Jackolski was dropped for two yards, he took a Kyle Essington pass 55 yards for a touchdown, pulling the Seawolves within 28-24 with 1:16 left in the quarter.
The Stony Brook defense stopped Albany again to give the ball back to its offense. The Seawolves then went 80 yards in six plays to go ahead 31-28 on Jackolski's 11-yard TD run with 12:40 left in the fourth quarter.
Albany had three more possessions. On its final one, the Great Danes took a 15-play drive to the Stony Brook 3, but Dominick Reyes intercepted Di Lella in the end zone to end the threat with 47 seconds left.
Great Danes running back Drew Smith rushed for a touchdown and threw a 43-yard score to Ryan Kirchner, who caught 12 passes for 143 yards. Di Lella was 24 of 43 for 223 yards, including a 44-yard touchdown to Cole King which gave the Great Danes a 21-10 lead with 11 seconds left in the second quarter.
Albany also scored off a 21-yard blocked punt return by Brian Parker, which lifted the Great Danes to a 14-0 lead just 13 seconds into the second quarter.
But Stony Brook's offense, which entered the game ranked No. 1 in the FCS with a 39.6-point average, finally found its rhythm. The Seawolves held a 422 to 348 advantage in yards and a 12:20 edge in time of possession.
Jackolski finished with 103 yards on 22 carries and the one 55-yard reception.
Essington was 12 of 24 for 258 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. He threw an 11-yard touchdown to Matt Brevi in the second quarter.