The Stony Brook football team in a game against Villanova on March 6. The Seawolves lost 31-3 to the Delaware Blue Hens on Saturday, March 13.  KATHERINE PROCACCI/THE STATESMAN

With one-third of the abbreviated spring 2021 season already in the books, the Stony Brook football team has a lot of searching to do after being routed on the road 31-3 by the No. 19 Delaware Blue Hens on Saturday, March 13, falling to 0-2.

Redshirt-senior quarterback Tyquell Fields exited the game midway through the second quarter after fumbling the ball, appearing to injure his left hand. He would not return. In his stead, redshirt-sophomore Joshua Zamot took over as Stony Brook’s signal caller for the first time in his collegiate career. He completed 12 of his 22 pass attempts for 83 yards while being picked off twice. 

Flags killed the Seawolves early on as the team was still competing with the Blue Hens. The most crucial came on a third-and-12 in the second quarter with Stony Brook down just 10-3 when Delaware redshirt-junior quarterback Nolan Henderson slid on a run well short of the first-down marker.

Two penalties were called on the play. Redshirt-sophomore defensive lineman Makye Smith, who led the team with 11 tackles last week, was tossed from the game for a hit to the head away from the ball. Junior defensive back Akeal Lailand committed a late hit on Henderson during the slide, which was originally ruled targeting but later reversed.

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The pair of infractions gave Delaware a free 30 yards instead of a fourth down, setting the Blue Hens up inside the Seawolves’ red zone for their eventual touchdown on a one-yard rush three plays later. Now owning a two-possession lead, Delaware never looked back.

Stony Brook’s lone score, a 24-yard field goal by redshirt-freshman kicker Angelo Guglielmello in the first quarter, came on a drive that started on the Delaware 26-yard line courtesy of a fumble recovery. The series, however, was hamstrung by four offensive penalties as the Seawolves took five minutes to advance 20 yards, needing to settle for three points after the team already had a first-and-goal from the Delaware four.

All in all, the undisciplined Seawolves had 12 flags thrown against them for 110 yards, compared to the Blue Hens’ mere three for 35.

Stony Brook managed to win the time of possession battle, but that advantage was neutralized by the team’s five turnovers, coughing the ball up on the ground three times in addition to Zamot’s two interceptions. Delaware’s defense, which blanked Maine 37-0 last week, has yet to allow a touchdown this season.

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The Seawolves gained pieces back this week on the offensive end including graduate wide receiver Malik Love, who led the team with 45 yards on five catches. Redshirt-sophomore running back Ty Son Lawton, listed as the starter, also made his season debut yet saw less time than freshman Jayden Cook, who carried the ball 14 times for 44 yards.

Still, Stony Brook’s offense never seemed to get its feet off the ground. The first drive set the tone for the rest of the game, as Stony Brook quietly went three-and-out on three straight rushes. Lawton was stuffed at the line on the first two downs and was given the ball again on third-and-10, gaining just six. Aside from the short field given by the fumble recovery, the Seawolves never entered the red zone on Saturday.

Even with redshirt-senior defensive lineman Sam Kamara and redshirt-junior linebacker Reidgee Dimanche both missing the game, as well as Smith’s ejection in the second quarter, Stony Brook’s undermanned ground defense remained strong at stopping the run. Delaware was held to just 93 rushing yards on 3.1 yards per carry.

The 28-point loss was the Seawolves’ worst margin of defeat against an FCS opponent since a 43-14 drubbing at the hands of New Hampshire in 2016.

Stony Brook remains in pursuit of its first win next Saturday, March 20 at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium against the Maine Black Bears. A third straight loss would all but eliminate the Seawolves from FCS playoffs contention, playing in a CAA North division that features No. 6 Villanova, No. 13 Albany, No. 16 New Hampshire and No. 19 Delaware.

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