The Stony Brook football team’s 31-14 home loss to the Fordham Rams on Saturday, Sept. 25 was a crushing and demoralizing one. Coming off a loss to then-No. 4 Oregon, in which the Seawolves covered the 42-point spread, facing a winless Fordham team from the weaker Patriot League should have been a nice tune-up before diving into the heart of conference play, especially given how Stony Brook destroyed Fordham 45-10 in their most recent contest.
Instead, the Seawolves were stunned and lost in an ugly fashion.
The first play of the game — redshirt sophomore wide receiver Shawn Harris Jr.’s fumble of the opening kickoff — was a bad omen for the rest of the afternoon. The Seawolves were inefficient and missed several opportunities to take control after it looked like momentum was on their side.
In the only sack that Stony Brook recorded against Fordham senior quarterback Tim DeMorat all afternoon, redshirt junior defensive lineman Makye Smith popped the ball loose in the first quarter and the initial call was a fumble recovered by the Seawolves in Rams territory. However, the ruling was overturned and Fordham kept the ball.
Still, the Seawolves reached that side of the field on their next possession and it looked as if Stony Brook would score and break a 7-7 tie with a first-and-10 on the Fordham 27. Instead, a false start, a dropped pass, a negative run play and a sack put the Seawolves at fourth-and-17 in no man’s land, punting the ball and missing the chance to down it near the red zone.
The Stony Brook defense was chewed up on a Fordham 15-play, 91-yard drive that put the Rams back up 14-7. While the Seawolves had a chance to tie the game on their next possession, the drive stalled at the Fordham 31. Graduate quarterback Tyquell Fields lofted a deep pass on the run and placed it accurately in the endzone, but redshirt senior wide receiver Khalil Newton could not make the catch as the pass was broken up. They went for it on fourth down, but Fields took a sack for a loss of four yards and a turnover on downs.
Overall, there is no one particular point of emphasis to blame this loss on. The offensive line was not effective. Fields was sacked five times for a loss of 24 total yards, one of which was on a crucial fourth down. Several sacks were on plays in which he tried to extend the play and refused to throw the ball away. The offense did rush for 173 yards but only averaged 3.6 yards per carry, showing a lack of push up front from the offensive line as well. Redshirt junior running back Ty Son Lawton ran the ball well in the first quarter, but after he departed with injury, the ground game was less effective.
While Fordham scored on all four of its red zone trips, Stony Brook went 2-for-5, with the failed trips ending in a turnover of downs and two interceptions.
The Stony Brook defense generated no takeaways and the secondary was torched by DeMorat for 280 yards and four scores. Three different receivers caught a touchdown pass while Stony Brook’s pass rush produced just one sack. They could not stop Fordham junior running back Trey Wilson III who rushed for 76 yards on only 11 carries for 6.9 yards per carry.
The Seawolves defense also struggled situationally by allowing a 50% third-down conversion rate in 14 opportunities and a 100% red zone scoring percentage. Big plays allowed became another bugaboo, as Stony Brook gave up five plays longer than 20 yards in the second half after not allowing a single one in the first half.
Fordham received the kickoff to begin the third quarter, still up by just one touchdown. Wilson’s 30-yard explosion set up DeMorat’s third score with the Rams needing only seven plays to march down 75 yards and extend their lead to 21-7. On their next drive, DeMorat went 3-for-3 on the drive to three different receivers, with passes of 24, 30, and 40 yards, the last of which scored.
In order to make another comeback attempt like they did on opening night against New Hampshire, Stony Brook needed to play a flawless fourth quarter. Redshirt senior running back Seba Nekhet ran for a 10-yard touchdown that cut the deficit to 28-14 with 13:54 left in the game. The Seawolves defense needed to force a quick three-and-out to get the ball back with enough time for at least two scoring drives, but instead, Fordham converted four first downs on the drive, which chewed up over six minutes of clock and ended with a field goal to put Stony Brook in an insurmountable three-possession hole with 7:36 left.
Stony Brook’s two final drives went awry as both Fields and redshirt junior quarterback Joshua Zamot were picked off inside the red zone.
On a positive note, Fields was more accurate on Saturday, going 21-for-31 for 253 yards. Newton was the team’s leading receiver with 77 yards on six catches, while graduate wide receiver Hunter Hayek had his best performance of the season with 70 yards on six receptions. Stony Brook was 11-for-17 on third downs, gained 426 yards on offense and held Fordham to just 3.3 yards per carry. Newton made several nice toe-drag catches on the sidelines as well.
Next Saturday, the Seawolves travel to Rhode Island to face another Rams team, this time a 3-0 squad, needing to fix all of the above mistakes to pull off a road upset of their own.