The Stony Brook Football team returns to action at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium in nonconference action on Saturday afternoon when it will face Howard University, looking to win its first game since Sep. 19.
Stony Brook was defeated at home last weekend by Elon, 21-7, and the team is seeking to end its current five-game losing streak—the Seawolves’ longest under head coach Chuck Priore. Stony Brook’s record fell to just 2-5 overall and 1-5 in the Colonial Athletic Association with the loss.
Howard is coming off its first win of the season, a 55-9 blowout victory over Savannah State. The Bison enter this weekend’s game with a 1-7 record, 10th in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
With a postseason berth out of the realm of possibility, Stony Brook is expected to start redshirt freshman Joe Carbone at quarterback for the second consecutive game. After splitting time under center with senior Conor Bednarski for most of the season, Carbone played every snap on Saturday for the first time in his career. The Connecticut native failed to impress against Elon, but may have better luck against a poor Howard defense.
While Carbone threw four interceptions last weekend, he is unlikely to repeat the performance. Howard as a team has picked off just four interceptions the whole season. The Bison have allowed 40.1 points per game this season, ranking 116th out of 123 Football Championship Subdivision teams.
In the running game, a pair of significant injuries have left the Seawolves with three main options at running back—junior Tyler Fredericks, sophomore Donald Liotine and freshman Travis Liburd. The trio combined for 80 yards against Elon, with Liotine punching in a third quarter touchdown.
On defense, Howard has struggled to stop the run. The Bison have allowed 24 rushing touchdowns this season, the fifth-highest total in the FCS. Saturday’s game presents a good opportunity for Stony Brook to rebound in a rushing attack that has been ineffective since junior running back Stacey Bedell suffered a season-ending injury against William & Mary in Week 4.
One of the keys for the Seawolves’ defense will be to stop the deep ball in the passing game. Stony Brook was doomed by such plays against Elon, who scored through the air on 50-yard and 24-yard plays on Saturday.
Passing for the Bison is sophomore quarterback Kalen Johnson, who is coming off a pair of strong games. Against North Carolina A&T on Oct. 24, Johnson completed 62.5 percent of his passes, throwing two touchdowns. In the team’s victory against Savannah State, Johnson accounted for five total touchdowns—passing for four and running for one.
With three games remaining in the season, Stony Brook has a chance to reach a .500 record should it win out. The Seawolves will look to finish the year on the right foot as they look forward to a more successful 2016 season.