The Stony Brook football team had not lost a non-conference game against a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) opponent since 2016. Facing a winless Fordham Rams team at home and coming off a strong first-half performance last week at No. 3 Oregon, the blueprint was set for the Seawolves to continue their eight-game win streak against schools in weaker conferences.
Instead, Stony Brook was embarrassed 31-14 by Fordham on Saturday, Sept. 25 at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium. The stunning upset loss drops the Seawolves to 1-3 on the season, with a return to Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) conference play coming next week.
“We’ve got to get better,” head coach Chuck Priore said in a postgame press conference. “It’s not tolerated.”
The decisive play of the game came midway through the third quarter, with Stony Brook knocking on the door at Fordham’s 3-yard line while down by two touchdowns. Facing fourth-and-inches, graduate quarterback Tyquell Fields was stuffed on the QB sneak to end a drive that would have pulled the Seawolves to within one score.
Pinned deep near their own end zone, the Rams needed only four plays to drive 97 yards, a 40-yard passing touchdown by Fordham senior quarterback Tim DeMorat delivering the killshot that put Fordham up 28-7.
“We didn’t control the big plays obviously,” Priore said. “We knew [DeMorat] would get yardage, and I think the yardage is okay. They turned their yardage into points, we didn’t.”
“This game was particularly bad because we just did not play to our standards,” redshirt senior linebacker Reidgee Dimanche, who led Stony Brook with 10 tackles on Saturday, said in a postgame press conference. “Our discipline [needs to improve]. We just need to be a more consistent team and execute our jobs perfectly.”
Despite the opening kickoff being delayed by half an hour because Fordham’s team bus reportedly broke down, it was still the Rams who seized momentum quickly and never looked back.
Fumbling the opening kickoff made it difficult for Stony Brook to get on top early into the game. Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Shawn Harris Jr. bobbled the ball as it reached his hands and it popped out as he was being brought down.
Fordham recovered the turnover at Stony Brook’s 28-yard line, and DeMorat, last season’s Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year, needed six plays in one minute to put the road team up by a touchdown early.
The Seawolves did respond with a methodical 12-play, 80-yard drive that tied the game when Fields found redshirt senior running back Seba Nekhet for a 20-yard touchdown pass on third down. Stony Brook ran over Fordham on that possession, moving the ball on the ground with ease against a Rams defense that has struggled immensely with stopping the run.
Redshirt junior running back Ty Son Lawton, who effectively gained 42 yards on seven carries in the game, did not come back after the first quarter, with Priore disclosing postgame that Stony Brook’s starter suffered an injury. Nekhet and redshirt freshman running back Roland Dempster saw action in his stead.
Despite getting near Fordham’s 30-yard line on two more first half drives, the Seawolves were unable to score on either of them. Meanwhile, the Rams put together an impressive 15-play, 91-yard series that ended with DeMorat’s second touchdown of the afternoon, giving Fordham a 14-7 advantage that would hold for the rest of the game.
“As the game continued on, we became complacent,” Dimanche said. “When we stopped them in the beginning, we ran out there thinking, ‘Okay, we did before, it’s just going to happen again.’ We’ve got to come out with the energy that we need to punch them in their mouth every drive.”
Stony Brook bested Fordham in first downs (29-21), total yards of offense (426-385), third-down conversion rate (65%-50%) and time of possession (36:18-23:42). The Rams took advantage, though, by scoring touchdowns on all four red zone trips and only allowing one sack.
“We missed a few tackles which created some longer plays,” Priore said. “[DeMorat] is a quarterback that doesn’t take sacks, gets the ball out of his hands and finds open receivers, so we knew it would be trouble to get pressure on him.”
Fordham senior linebacker Ryan Greenhagen made his presence known with 16 total tackles as Fields faced constant pressure and was sacked five times. He went 21-for-31 with 253 yards in the air and 41 yards on the ground, but DeMorat went 21-for-33 with 280 yards and four touchdowns.
“We need to start off with our efficiency,” Nekhet said about what the team needs to improve on in a postgame press conference. “Capitalize on the big plays, we need to cut out the turnovers, we need to cut out the mistakes … It’s fixable. It’s stuff that we can work on.”
Stony Brook will face only conference opponents from here on out in the regular season, with a road trip to the Rhode Island Rams (3-0, 1-0 CAA) next Saturday, Oct. 2 at 12 p.m. next on the schedule.