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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Stony Brook football decimated by No. 19 Villanova

Wide receiver Anthony Johnson (foreground) gets tackled after catching a pass against New Hampshire on Saturday, Oct. 21. Johnson totaled a career-high 11 catches on Saturday at Villanova. BRITTNEY DIETZ/THE STATESMAN

The Stony Brook football team’s failure to limit big plays plagued it in yet another blowout loss, as its worst season in program history continued.

The Seawolves (0-8, 0-6 CAA) were routed in Philadelphia by the No. 19 Villanova Wildcats (6-2, 4-1 CAA) 48-13 on Saturday. Villanova put on a show for its faithful at its homecoming by capitalizing on a plethora of long offensive plays.

Stony Brook’s first offensive possession foreshadowed the rest of the game. After the Seawolves defense came up with a fourth-down stop to give their offense a short field, kicker Spencer Biscoe pushed a 34-yard field goal wide right.

Following the miss, the Wildcats completed an 80-yard drive in just two plays. Villanova quarterback Connor Watkins found wide receiver Rayjuon Pringle on a screen pass, who stormed down the right side of the field for a long 75-yard catch and run. With the ball on Stony Brook’s five-yard line, Villanova running back T.D. Ayo-Durojaiye broke a tackle and muscled his way into the end zone to take a 7-0 lead.

On the ensuing possession, the Seawolves answered with a successful 80-yard drive of their own to even the score. After marching down the field, quarterback Casey Case dumped it off to wide receiver Dez Williams in the flat to his right, who raced towards the pylon and absorbed a big hit at the goal line. Williams spun around like a helicopter as he broke the plane for his first career touchdown.

Head coach Chuck Priore commended Williams for his effort on the play.

“He’s got good speed,” Priore said in a postgame interview with Stony Brook Athletics. “He’s a physical guy and he did a great job of getting into the corner of the end zone.”

After getting the ball back, the Wildcats opened up the floodgates. Watkins found wide receiver Jaaron Hayek, who was wide open behind Stony Brook’s secondary for a 43-yard house call to regain the lead.

After a three-and-out by the Seawolves to end the first quarter, Villanova continued its offensive onslaught. The Wildcats pieced together an eight-play, 71-yard scoring drive to start the second quarter. The possession was capped off when Watkins threw a perfectly placed ball to a tightly-covered Hayek in the middle of the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown.

Like déjà vu, Villanova followed that up with an efficient two-play drive. Watkins and Hayek connected for another 20-yard gain to set the Wildcats up just past midfield. On the next play, Villanova running back Jalen Jackson found a hole on the right side and waltzed into the end zone for a long 44-yard score to make it 28-7.

Though Stony Brook was quiet on its next possession, it was given a golden opportunity to get back in the game when Hayek muffed a punt. The Seawolves recovered the ball on the Wildcats’ 10-yard line, but Case threw an interception with 2:04 left in the first half.

Just under a minute later, the Seawolves’ secondary was nowhere to be found when Watkins aired it out to Pringle down the middle of the field for a 76-yard score to make it 34-7 at the half. They blocked the extra point, but the damage was already done.

In the first half alone, Stony Brook allowed 381 total yards and five consecutive scoring drives after stopping Villanova on fourth down to start the contest.

In the third quarter, things went from bad to worse for the Seawolves. After another three-and-out, Watkins tossed a 24-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jaylan Sanchez to make it 41-7 with just over six minutes left in the frame.

Just over two minutes later, Stony Brook attempted a trick play that saw wide receiver Jayden Cook complete a 22-yard pass to Case. However, the gain was called back due to a penalty. After being tackled, Case was noticeably banged up and was removed from the game in favor of backup quarterback Daron Bryden.

With Villanova’s big lead, Watkins was relieved by backup quarterback Tanner Maddocks to start the fourth quarter. Upon entering the game, Maddocks found an open Sanchez for 40-yards to take his team inside the Seawolves’ five-yard line. Villanova running back Isaiah Wright then rushed up the middle for an easy two-yard touchdown.

On the game’s final play, Bryden connected with Cook for a 13-yard touchdown to make the team’s statistics slightly prettier. It was Bryden’s first touchdown pass of the season.

Priore believes that his team’s attention to detail is present, but fails to execute when game day comes around.

“I think our kids are competing,” Priore said. “I think we’re prepared, [but] we’re not performing. It’s my job to figure out why the Saturdays are not indicative of what goes on from Sunday through Friday.”

After seeing continued improvement each week, Stony Brook’s passing game struggled on Saturday. Case completed just 12 of his 22 passes for 113 yards and a touchdown, while also throwing a pick. Bryden completed 10 of his 15 throws for 85 yards and a touchdown.

Running back Roland Dempster had his most productive game of the season, as he rushed for a season-high 55 yards on 12 carries.

Wide receiver Anthony Johnson had another outstanding game, racking up a career-high 11 receptions for 90 yards. Johnson left the game with a limp early on, but returned without missing a beat.

Priore had high praise for Johnson’s talent, but he also applauded his toughness.

“He’s a good football player,” Priore said. “He’s productive, he’ll play injured … and it’s good that he’s on our side.”

Williams caught two passes for 31 yards, while Cook caught four for 25.

Defensively, there were not many bright spots for the Seawolves, as they allowed 556 total yards and 398 passing yards. Middle linebacker Aidan Kaler led them with seven total tackles. Free safety Jalen Hoyle blocked his second kick of the year, while defensive end Davon Bomar had the team’s only tackle for loss.

Stony Brook will continue its search for a victory next Saturday in West Long Branch, N.J. against the Monmouth Hawks. The Hawks are 3-5 overall this season and 2-3 in conference play. Opening kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.

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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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