Footballs with the Stony Brook Seawolves logo. Stony Brook Football opens its season against New Hampshire Wildcats on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021. BRIDGET DOWNES/STATESMAN FILE

Stony Brook Football will open its season against the New Hampshire Wildcats on Thursday, Sept. 2 at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium.

The Wildcats have won five of the previous eight matchups with the Seawolves, including their last meeting in 2019. While the Seawolves are losing the all-time series, they’ve taken three of their last five games against the Wildcats.

“We’ve had some great battles,” Stony Brook head coach Chuck Priore said Monday on a conference media call. “We’re two teams that play the game the correct way. I’ve got a ton of respect for Coach [McDonnell] and how he goes about his business. It’s just been a good rivalry in the Northeast.”

The ninth meeting was scheduled to take place in the shortened spring season, but COVID-19 prevented the game from being played. UNH lost their first game of the spring to the Albany Great Danes before having several COVID-19 issues.

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Each of the Wildcats’ next three games were postponed until the university announced the week ahead of their scheduled Apr. 10 matchup with Stony Brook that the team opted out of the rest of the spring schedule.

It’s unfair to base any analysis off one game in the spring, so let’s look at how the Seawolves stacked up against the Wildcats in the 2019 season.  

The Wildcats’ defense was strong in 2019 and they’ll have most of their key defensive pieces back this year, including junior defensive tackle and sack-leader Niko Kvietkus and senior safety Evan Horn.

One of Horn’s team-leading four interceptions in 2019 came in the third quarter of the Wildcats’ 20-14 win over the Seawolves. Horn also recorded four sacks in 2019 and was named to the 2021 Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Preseason All-Conference Team.

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The Seawolves entered the 2019 matchup having scored at least 30 points in each of their previous three games, but they managed only 14 points against the stout Wildcat defense.

New Hampshire’s offensive struggles might continue this year, as sophomore starting quarterback Max Brosmer will miss the entire season with a torn ACL. Sophomore Bret Edwards will take over at quarterback with little experience.

Edwards’ only career start came in the 2019 season opener, but Brosmer took over to start the second half and started each of the Wildcats’ last 10 games.

Expect New Hampshire to rely on the experience of their running backs — junior Carlos Washington Jr. and sophomore Dylan Laube — to take some of the pressure off Edwards.

“Another guy who’s opened our eyes in fall camp is [redshirt freshman] Isaac Seide,” New Hampshire head coach Sean McDonnell said. “Those three guys give us three quality running backs. Those guys can catch, they can run and they’ve done a great job in protection.”

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The Wildcat offense will be up against a Stony Brook defense missing three impactful starters as defensive lineman Sam Kamara and defensive backs Augie Contressa and TJ Morrison finished their collegiate careers in the spring.

Stony Brook’s defense is inexperienced, but facing a low-ranking offense without its starting quarterback will be a good litmus test.

The matchup between the Seawolves’ offense and the Wildcats’ defense should be a good one, as Stony Brook has proven to be prolific when healthy. Stony Brook is confident in graduate quarterback Tyquell Fields, but the Seawolves could take a more conservative approach and rely on junior running back Ty Son Lawton if their defense holds up well against Edwards and the Wildcats.

Stony Brook was predicted to finish 10th out of the 12 CAA teams by head coaches and media relations directors, whereas New Hampshire was picked to finish in 5th place. The poll was taken before Brosmer suffered his season-ending injury, so this game should provide a better sense of where the Wildcats stand without their starting quarterback.

For the Seawolves, Thursday night is a chance to erase the spring from recent memory and prove the doubters wrong with an emphatic victory. 

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