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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


New offense flounders as Stony Brook football falls to No. 21/22 Delaware

Strong safety Nick Chimienti (25) returns an interception against Delaware on Thursday, Aug. 31. Chimienti picked off the first two passes of his career in the Stony Brook football team’s season opener. TIM GIORLANDO/THE STATESMAN

Though the players on the field and play designs were brand new for the Stony Brook football team, the result of the game was all too familiar.

The Seawolves (0-1, 0-1 CAA) made some splash plays in their season opener, but they were still dominated 37-13 by the No. 21/22 Delaware Blue Hens (1-0, 1-0 CAA) on Thursday night. Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium saw its largest crowd in a home opener in the venue’s history, but Stony Brook’s offense reaped no benefits from its home-field advantage.

The game unfolded in the same way that most of the Seawolves’ 2022 contests did. Their rotation of eight defensive lineman started off the game hot, repeatedly taking turns cutting through Delaware’s offensive line and blowing up plays in the backfield. The Blue Hens rotated starting quarterback Ryan O’Connor and his backup Zach Marker — both took a pounding from Stony Brook’s defensive front.

On the other side of the ball, the Seawolves’ offense started off the game on the wrong foot. With quarterback Casey Case making his NCAA debut, they opted to ease him in with a flurry of short passes close to the line of scrimmage. Those plays did not produce much, leading them to pick up only two first downs in the first half. As a result, their defense wound up spending almost 19 minutes on the field in the first half, allowing Delaware to eventually find their flaws and expose them. A nine-play, 84-yard drive capped off by a rushing touchdown from running back Marcus Yarns put the Blue Hens up 17-3 heading into halftime.

Head coach Chuck Priore said that the conservative play-calling was done to help the team feel itself out.

“We have a brand-new offense and a brand-new defense … so our kids are still learning our system,” Priore said in a postgame press conference.

After halftime, offensive coordinator Andrew Dresner opened up the playbook for Case and allowed him to air it out more, which led to some immediate results. On the first three plays of the second half, Case completed three consecutive passes for 50 yards and drove the offense down the field, but the drive ultimately stalled before kicker Spencer Biscoe missed a 46-yard field goal. Delaware capitalized on the great field position by scoring just two plays later when Yarns turned the left corner and busted out a 53-yard touchdown run.

Now trailing 24-3 in the third quarter, Stony Brook’s rushing offense came to life. Running back Roland Dempster broke off a 38-yard run before backup running back Johnny Martin picked up another 26 yards over the following three plays. Case followed his backs by throwing a 19-yard strike on the sideline to wide receiver Anthony Johnson, setting the offense up at the 1-yard line. On an inside handoff, Dempster reached across and broke the plane for his first-career touchdown, getting the Seawolves within two scores of the Blue Hens.

After getting the ball back at midfield, another 26 rushing yards from Martin and a 13-yard pass to wide receiver Jayce Freeman set Biscoe up with a 25-yard field goal, which he nailed to cut the score to 24-13.

On the next defensive possession, free safety Noah Rodriguez made an acrobatic interception off a deflection to give Stony Brook the ball back. The team took all the momentum into the fourth quarter with it, trailing by just 11 points.

After the Seawolves gained just 45 yards in the first half, they racked up 200 total yards during their turnaround in the third quarter. Freeman said that nerves played into the offense’s slow start, and that the unit got more comfortable as the game progressed.

“It was first-game jitters,” Freeman said. “We were just trying to find our groove. We just started getting more plays, more big plays and more explosive runs.”

Despite the Seawolves’ rally, Delaware woke up and dismantled Case and their offense in the fourth quarter to squash any hopes of an upset. The Blue Hens held Stony Brook to just 82 yards of total offense while forcing Case to throw three interceptions — all of which were to different defenders.

On the first play of the final frame, Case was picked off by Delaware outside linebacker Christian Pierce, which ultimately led to a rushing touchdown by running back Kyron Cumby. The middle of the three picks wound up being returned for a 50-yard touchdown by Delaware outside linebacker Ty Davis, putting the finishing touches on the game’s scoring.

Case’s disastrous fourth quarter damaged his final line, as he finished just 14-of-40 passing for 163 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions. Despite Case’s struggles in his debut, Priore is not concerned with him moving forward.

“I’ve gotten to know Casey over the last six months, and this won’t faze him in the least,” Case said. “It didn’t faze him during the game.”

Delaware drastically outgained Stony Brook 559-327 and averaged 7.1 yards per play. Most of the damage was done through the air, as O’Connor and Marker combined to throw for 414 yards. O’Connor, who made his first-career start on Thursday, completed 24 of his 38 passes for 346 yards and a touchdown. Despite allowing gaudy numbers, the Seawolves’ defense recorded four sacks and four takeaways (three interceptions, one fumble recovery).

Strong safety Nick Chimienti had the biggest night of all defenders with his first two interceptions since his true freshman season. Both came during the second quarter. His picks made him the first Stony Brook defender with multiple interceptions in a game since former free safety Randy Pringle recorded two against Richmond in 2021.

Chimienti said that Delaware’s offensive scheme allowed it to find success against the Seawolves’ secondary.

“[Our] defense played hard,” Chimienti said. “They just caught us in some coverages. Some perfect calls for what [coverage] we were in, and they just had some big plays, so we’ve got to eliminate those next week.”

The Seawolves ran the ball well, netting 164 rushing yards while averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Dempster ran 10 times for 50 yards and a touchdown, while Carson rushed eight times for a team-leading 63 yards. Running back Ross Tallarico made the most of his touches, rushing for 45 yards on four carries.

Dempster left the game on crutches in the fourth quarter with a foot injury and returned to the sideline later with a walking boot. Priore said that he has no confirmation on the specific injury or recovery timetable, but mentioned that the team doctor “said he would be okay.”

On defense, eight different Stony Brook players were credited with a quarterback hurry, and outside linebacker De’Aundre Cruz led the unit with four. Defensive end Rodney Faulk, defensive tackle Dyshier Clary and outside linebackers Clarens Legagneur and Anthony Ferrelli all recorded one sack each. Ferrelli also recovered a fumble that he returned 35 yards.

The Seawolves will get seven days to prepare for their next opponent: the No. 21/23 Rhode Island Rams. The Rams lost their season opener in a 42-35 shootout at Georgia State. The game will be Rhode Island’s conference opener. Opening kickoff is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 8 at 7 p.m. in Rhode Island.

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About the Contributor
Mike Anderson, Sports Editor
Mike Anderson is the Sports Editor at The Statesman. He is a senior majoring in journalism with aspirations of becoming a sports journalist. His love of sports comes from his time spent as a baseball player. As a reporter for The Statesman, he has covered baseball, softball, football, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer, men's and women's lacrosse, women's volleyball and hockey. He has also interned at Axcess Sports as a high school and college baseball and softball reporter. He is a local product from Port Jefferson, N.Y. and is a diehard Mets, Jets, Nets and Islanders fan.
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