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Stony Brook football looks to beat up on nonconference opponent

Wide receiver Tedy Afful returning a punt while receiving a block from safety Jordan Jackson on Saturday, Oct. 22. The Stony Brook football team is back home this Saturday against Morgan State, where it will look for its second win of the season. CAMRON WANG/THE STATESMAN

Coming off a 59-14 blowout loss in the Battle for the Golden Apple, the Stony Brook football team will look to rebound in non-conference competition.

The Seawolves (1-7, 1-5 CAA) were brutalized by their arch-rivals — the Albany Great Danes — last Saturday, ending any chance at a winning streak. Stony Brook will look to right the ship this Saturday when they return home to face the Morgan State Bears in a non-conference matchup. The Bears currently sit in fifth place of the Mid-Eastern Atlantic Conference (MEAC) with a 3-5 overall record and a 2-3 conference record. They come into this contest having just snapped a three-game losing streak with a 41-14 win against South Carolina State. 

Morgan State has been very middle-of-the-road this season. Its offense has not been exceptional but it has been acceptable at times, as the unit currently ranks third in the MEAC in scoring but second-to-last in total yards. The Bears passing offense has been abysmal with a constant revolving door at the quarterback position, causing them to be ranked dead last in the MEAC in passing yards and yards per game. Their two quarterbacks — Carson Baker and Duce Taylor — are completing a combined 45.3% of their passes this season.

Star running back Alfonzo Graham has been the motor of the Bears offense, leading the MEAC in rushing yards, attempts and rushing yards per game. He is also second in rushing touchdowns. Graham is coming off his first multi-touchdown performance of the season and his third 100-yard game of the year, which earned him the honor of being named one of the Shrine Bowl HBCU Players of the Week. 

“He’s extremely quick,” head coach Chuck Priore said of Graham during a press conference on Monday. “I think he could change the game in one carry. He’s a very good football player.”

Stony Brook’s prime defensive objective will be limiting the run. Despite the Seawolves being ranked last in passing defense and fourth-worst in total defense in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) this season, their rushing defense has been solid. The team has limited opponents to 133.4 yards per game, good for fourth-best in the CAA. It will be crucial for Stony Brook to clog Graham’s running lanes and bottle him up quickly. Expect linebacker Reidgee Dimanche, the CAA’s fifth-leading tackler, to be integral to the Seawolves’ effort in stopping Graham.

Morgan State’s total defense is currently second-worst in the MEAC. The Seawolves have a nice matchup on offense, as Morgan State has the MEAC’s worst pass defense and allows 146.0 rushing yards per game.

Freshman quarterback Charlie McKee will once again be a player to watch for Stony Brook. After a sensational performance against Maine, McKee had the worst game of his young career against Albany. McKee completed seven of his 15 passes for a measly 67 yards while throwing four interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.

“I think we all have to remember that he’s a freshman with very little practice experience,” Priore said of McKee. “Albany did a very good job … Players made plays. He needs to play better. He knows that. But he was focused throughout the time he was in there and he came out today and was ready to roll.”

This is much easier said than done, however, as Morgan State’s defense has nine interceptions this year, including two pick-sixes in their win over South Carolina State. They also added a touchdown via fumble return in that matchup. Their four defensive touchdowns are tied for second-most in the FCS. 

Morgan State’s strong defensive performance propelled senior cornerback Jae’Veyon Morton to be named the MEAC Defensive Player of the Week. Morton ran an interception back for a touchdown while also racking up two tackles and a pass breakup in the 41-14 victory. McKee and the Seawolves will look to limit his impact on the game.

Opening kickoff will take place at 1 p.m. at Kenneth P. Lavalle Stadium. Stony Brook will be looking to pick up its second-straight home win, while Morgan State will search for its first road win of the season.

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About the Contributor
Anthony DiCocco, Assistant Sports Editor
Anthony DiCocco is an Assistant Sports Editor at The Statesman. He is a sophomore majoring in journalism with aspirations of becoming a sports journalist. His love of sports derives from years of playing dek hockey and watching his favorite teams, the New York Islanders, New York Mets and New York Jets. He is the beat reporter for Stony Brook’s hockey and softball teams. He has also covered football, men’s lacrosse and men’s soccer. He was previously the Editor-in-Chief of his high school newspaper the Devil’s Tale at Plainedge High School. He is a local product from North Massapequa, N.Y.
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