The Stony Brook Football team (2-4, 1-4 CAA) returns to Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium this Saturday at 12 p.m. to take on Elon (2-5, 1-3 CAA), looking to get back in the win column and end a four-game losing streak.
With just three conference games left, the Seawolves are not quite mathematically eliminated from the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs, but their chances of making the postseason are slimming with each passing week.
Stony Brook has been fighting an uphill battle ever since junior running back Stacey Bedell went down with a shoulder injury in Week 4 against William & Mary. Picking up the slack for Bedell has been a committee of sophomore Donald Liotine, freshman Isaiah White and junior Tyler Fredericks, whose redshirt for the season was removed.
The news did not get better for the Seawolves—White was injured before last week’s matchup against Maine, and he further aggravated the injury during the game. Head coach Chuck Priore said that White is questionable to play this week in a weekly Colonial Athletic Association Football Coaches Teleconference.
“We have confidence in them,” Priore said about his team’s group of running backs. “We’re expecting them to perform.”
Bedell’s absence has made a serious impact on the outcome of games. In the three games since the junior’s injury, Liotine, Fredericks and White have combined for 193 total rushing yards, averaging only 1.69 yards per carry. Bedell averaged over seven yards per carry when he was on the field.
However, the numbers are likely to improve against an Elon defense that allows an average of 242.5 rushing yards per game. A turnaround for the running corps could make a big impact on the game.
Senior Conor Bednarski and redshirt freshman Joe Carbone are still sharing time at the quarterback position, but their favorite target this season has been the same: sophomore wide receiver Ray Bolden. The young wideout has racked up 492 yards on 41 catches, including four touchdowns, this season.
Elon is coming off a three game losing streak of its own, with its most recent loss being a 51-0 blowout by James Madison.
“They’re a physical team,” Priore said of his Week 8 opponents.
That physicality shows in its passing defense, which only allows 185.9 yards per game in the air, good enough for 28th in the FCS.
The Phoenix offense is more of a balanced attack than the Seawolves, having attempted 234 passes and 213 rushes on the season, while the Seawolves have run the football 90 more times than they have passed it.
Junior running back B.J. Bennett is Elon’s leading rusher this season, gaining 167 yards on 62 carries including a touchdown in five games. He will likely split playing time with sophomore rusher Brandon Gentry, who has rushed for 129 yards on 34 attempts with one touchdown.
The key to this game for Stony Brook will be to run the football with dominance. The defense should play well as usual, especially against an Elon offense that is not quite as dynamic as the Seawolves’ recent opponents.
“Our goal is to continue to do what we do, play great defense, and figure out how to win a football game,” Priore said. “That’s what’s crucial right now.”
Thursday, October 29, 7:00 p.m.: Stony Brook Athletics confirmed Thursday that freshman running back Isaiah White, mentioned in this article, will have to undergo foot surgery after suffering an injury against Maine on Saturday. White will be out for the season, and thus will not play against Elon.