(HEATHER KHALIFA / THE STATESMAN)
The Stony Brook football team will head to North Carolina to face the Elon Phoenix this weekend after defeating Maine last weekend at home. (HEATHER KHALIFA / THE STATESMAN)

The Stony Brook football team (3-4) will travel to North Carolina this weekend to face the Elon Phoenix (1-5).

The Seawolves are coming into the game fresh off an impressive home win against Maine, where the defense demonstrated the physicality and speed that fans at LaValle Stadium have become accustomed to seeing this season.

After a break in coverage on the second play from scrimmage that resulted in a 73-yard-touchdown pass by Maine’s Dan Collins, the Seawolves stifled Maine, allowing only 62 yards of total offense for the rest of the game.

Even though the Stony Brook defense put together another virtuoso performance, it was heavily aided by an offense that looks to be finding its footing at the right time.

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Although the offense only scored 19 points, it did a masterful job keeping the chains moving, winning the time of possession battle by holding the ball for over 40 minutes. The Seawolves were able to chew up clock due in large part to a strong running game, which rushed for 226 yards and was highlighted by sophomore running back Stacey Bedell’s 128 yards.

Unlike the Seawolves, Elon will limp into this game coming off of three straight losses, which includes one to Delaware in the team’s last game, where they had difficulty getting stops on defense.

But like the Seawolves, Elon is plagued by its difficulty scoring, averaging a paltry 14.3 points per game. The team’s struggles can be largely attributed to their lack of a running game, which only averages 98.7 yards per game and a measly three yards per attempt.

The Phoenix’s inability to gain any traction does not bode well, especially against a Stony Brook defense that has only allowed 80.3 yards per game on the ground, and an even more impressive 2.31 yards per attempt average.

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If the Stony Brook rush defense is able to do what is has been doing all year, the Seawolves should find themselves in a favorable position against an Elon pass offense has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns at this point in the season.

With turnover-prone senior quarterback Michael Quinn forced to pass, senior defensive back Davonte Anderson and the rest of the Seawolves defense, which has picked off a pass in five straight games, should be salivating at the opportunity to extend that streak.

Despite the Seawolves’ ability to make plays in the secondary, they are prone to the occasional big play through the air, having allowed three touchdown passes over 50 yards. Since the secondary has shown minor faults, the defense should pay extra attention to senior wide receiver Kierre Brown, who leads Elon in receiving yards, yards per catch and is tied for the team lead in touchdowns.

On the other side of the ball, the Seawolves offense should look to capitalize on those turnovers, just like they have been doing all season, scoring 81 points off of turnovers.

The Seawolves offense may not score a ton of points, but what they do look to do is set a grind-it-out, physical tone for the rest of the game. One of the central players within this workman-like offense is Bedell, who should have no trouble finding holes in an Elon defense that yields over 200 rushing yards per game. In addition to Bedell, senior running backs Marcus Coker and James Kenner combine for another 81.5 yards per game on the ground.

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Although the rush attack is the focal point of the Stony Brook offense, the emergence of junior quarterback Conor Bednarski has provided an added dimension to the Seawolves’ offense.

Since taking over as starting quarterback against William & Mary, Bednarski has given head coach Chuck Priore the confidence to throw more often because of Bednarski’s ability to complete passes at a high rate, with a 62.5 completion percentage in the last three games.

One of the largest beneficiaries of Bednarski’s presence has been senior wide receiver Adrian Coxson, who has developed into a deep threat and one of Bednarski’s favorite targets. In the three games since Bednarski has been pegged the starting quarterback, Coxson has caught 14 passes for 194 yards, which is much better than the eight passes for 147 yards he accumulated in the four games prior.

Spearheaded by one the best defense in the country, which allows only 216.3 yards per game, the Seawolves should have no issues shutting down an Elon offense that is going through its fair share of turmoil.

With that said, the offense should be equally as successful controlling the clock and putting up points against a leaky Elon defense. If the Seawolves stick to their identity and avoid crucial mistakes, they should leave Rhodes Stadium with a three-game winning streak and a 3-1 record in Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) play.

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