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The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Bleak second half sinks Stony Brook football versus Fordham

Quarterback Casey Case throws a pass to the right sideline against Fordham on Saturday, Oct. 14. Case threw for 243 yards and a touchdown, but turned the ball over three times in the loss. TIM GIORLANDO/THE STATESMAN

After playing its best 30 minutes of the year, the Stony Brook football team failed to carry its momentum into the second half.

The Seawolves (0-6, 0-4 CAA) welcomed the Fordham Rams (5-2, 1-1 Patriot) to Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium on Saturday afternoon for their final nonconference game of the season. Though Stony Brook outplayed Fordham in the first half, it still fell 26-7 to its in-state foes.

The start of the game was indicative of the Seawolves’ entire 2023 season. On offense, they went three and out on each of their first two possessions. On defense, the Rams plunged their way down the field and into scoring position. However, dropped touchdown passes by Fordham wide receivers Garrett Cody and Ricky Gonzalez II forced the team to settle for a pair of field goals by kicker Brandon Peskin.

After falling behind 6-0, Stony Brook went with a quick-game approach and threw in some misdirection plays to get going on offense. On a drive that spanned from the end of the first quarter to the start of the second, quarterback Casey Case completed five of seven passes for 67 yards and a touchdown to give the Seawolves a 7-6 lead.

On the touchdown, the Rams blitzed Case from the right, but he slipped wide of them to his right and heaved the ball up down the field off his back foot into the end zone. Wide receiver Anthony Johnson caught it through contact with his chest for the 29-yard score.

Stony Brook’s offense functioned very well in the first half to the tune of 244 total yards. Head coach Chuck Priore attributed the strong offensive start to its efficiency on earlier downs.

“We had a high completion percentage … [and] mixed enough runs in there,” Priore said in a postgame press conference. “Casey spread the ball. We stayed at normal downs and distances. The plan was to throw the ball as best we could … and I think we did.”

After the Seawolves’ defense got three consecutive stops, Case and company took over at their own eight-yard line with just 1:27 left in the half. After a 28-yard strike to tight end Cal Redman on third down, Case found wide receiver Jayden Cook wide open for a 25-yard gain. Cook had an open field in front of him, but Fordham cornerback Nahil Perkins punched the ball out of his hands from behind. The fumble went out of bounds to stay in Stony Brook’s possession, but it prevented an otherwise guaranteed touchdown.

The fumble wound up taking points off the board, as the Seawolves drove all the way down to the one-yard line before Case’s fourth-down quarterback sneak was stuffed by the Rams’ defensive front. For the first time all year, Stony Brook took a lead into halftime.

The Seawolves tallied 244 yards on offense in the first half, and Case completed 16 of his 24 passes for 203 yards. He attributed his start to the performances from those around him.

“I think the O-line was doing a good job,” Case said. “Guys were getting open. A lot of it goes into the coaches’ game planning. The first read was open a lot; that’s good game planning.”

On the opening drive of the second half, Fordham quarterback C.J. Montes threw a 15-yard touchdown that was nullified due to an offensive pass interference on Cody. The drive stalled, and free safety Jalen Hoyle blocked Peskin’s 35-yard field goal to preserve Stony Brook’s 7-6 lead.

However, the Seawolves’ offense fell asleep in the third quarter and never woke up, allowing the Rams to take over the game. On Fordham’s next drive, a 10-yard sack by defensive end Rodney Faulk forced a punt on fourth down and 17. However, outside linebacker Calvin Harrison crashed into Fordham punter Will Haslett for a 15-yard penalty and an automatic first down. The Rams chewed the rest of the third quarter away and running back Julius Loughridge gave them the lead with a six-yard rushing touchdown as the game clock expired.

Now trailing 12-7 after a failed two-point conversion by Fordham, Stony Brook’s offense went three and out. The Seawolves’ defense got a stop on the ensuing possession, giving them another shot to take the lead. However, Fordham defensive end Matt Jaworski strip sacked Case from his blind side, and the fumble was recovered by defensive tackle Colby Spencer. Loughridge took advantage of the short field and plunged through the middle for a 10-yard touchdown to give the Rams a 19-7 lead.

History repeated itself on Stony Brook’s next possession, as Jaworski sacked Case off the left side and forced a fumble that was recovered by Fordham defensive end Sam Buerkle. On the first play after the fumble recovery, Fordham running back Jamell James rushed for his first career touchdown from 19 yards out to put the finishing touches on the scoreboard.

On the second play of the Seawolves’ next drive, Case was blitzed from right up the middle and he chucked it up downfield, where Perkins was waiting to make the easy interception. After that, the rest of the game was just garbage time, and the Rams held on to win it.

Fordham finished the day with 386 yards from scrimmage. Through three quarters, the Rams had racked up 333 yards, but had only scored 12 points. Stony Brook’s defense held Montes to just 171 yards and no passing touchdowns, and cornerback Willensky Nicolas held Fordham wide receiver M.J. Wright — the team’s leading receiver — to zero catches.

Middle linebacker Aidan Kaler credits the unit’s performance to its attitude.

“The guys were dialed in, focused and we came into the game hungry,” Kaler said. “We battled, but the game of football is four quarters. I’m proud of the guys for how we performed.”

The Seawolves netted only 26 yards in the second half and committed three turnovers. They finished with just 270 total yards and 13 first downs after being on pace to rack up near 500 by halftime. Both Priore and Case said they do not know why the second half was so different and will have to watch the film to assess what went wrong.

Case finished 21 of 34 for 243 yards, one touchdown, one pick and two lost fumbles. Johnson led the team with six catches for 87 yards. Kaler led the defense with 12 total tackles. Defensive end Davon Bomar had the best game of his career, racking up 1.5 sacks and two tackles for loss.

For the second year in a row, Stony Brook has started 0-6. The Seawolves will now turn their attention to the No. 24 New Hampshire Wildcats, who are 3-3 and 1-2 in conference play after defeating Albany 38-31 on Saturday. Opening kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. The game will be Stony Brook’s homecoming.

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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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