After snapping a four-game losing streak at home last Saturday, the Stony Brook football team (2-5, 1-3 CAA) will return to Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium for their homecoming game against the Richmond Spiders on Saturday, Oct. 23 at 3:30 p.m.
Prior to the Seawolves’ upset win over No. 14 Delaware, their last win came against Colgate on September 11, which also marks the date of Richmond’s last victory. The Spiders (2-4, 0-3 CAA) began the season with two blowout wins against Howard and Lehigh but lost their footing soon after and have yet to regain it.
This Saturday will mark the sixth matchup between the two teams, with the Seawolves currently holding a 3-2 lead in the series. The Seawolves won three straight games against the Spiders from 2016 to 2018, but Richmond strolled to a 30-10 win in their most recent meeting in 2019.
In 2016, Stony Brook routed then-No. 2 Richmond 42-14, with the Spiders’ offense led by quarterback and future New York Giants draft pick Kyle Lauletta. It was the highest-ranked FCS opponent Stony Brook had defeated in program history.
While they match up well statistically through seven weeks, the Seawolves will look to ride their newfound momentum against a Richmond team that has been trending the wrong way in recent weeks.
After blowing an 11-point fourth-quarter lead to Villanova in week three, the Spiders’ season took a turn for the worse the following week when graduate quarterback Joe Mancuso suffered a broken right index finger on the second play of the game. Richmond’s offense has struggled since Mancuso’s injury, totaling just 20 points in its last three games after averaging 32 points per game in the first three.
Mancuso was expected to miss two to four weeks, and this Saturday will mark four weeks since the injury. Richmond head coach Russ Huesman was noncommittal on Mancuso’s status for Saturday’s game during Monday’s media teleconference and said that the picture will become clearer later in the week.
“He’s progressing really well,” Huesman said. “The bottom line is whether [or not] he can throw the football. There’s always risk, but if he can throw it, he can play. If he can’t throw it, he won’t play.”
Huesman was also unsure about the status of Mancuso’s backup, graduate quarterback Beau English, who exited last Saturday’s game against James Madison early with an injury. Before his injury, English was completing just under 55% of his passes and had thrown only one touchdown in 84 attempts.
Redshirt freshman third-stringer Jackson Hardy was forced into action against a stout JMU defense and completed four of seven passes for 30 yards. If Mancuso is out for Saturday’s game, the Seawolves will have an opportunity to take the game over on defense.
On Wednesday, Huesman updated Richmond’s quarterback status by stating that either Mancuso, English or Hardy could get the start on Saturday. In addition, freshman quarterback Kyle Wickersham, the fourth-stringer, earned practice reps in a situation Huesman described as unprecedented.
Offensively, the run-heavy Seawolves will face another stout run defense this week, as the Spiders allow 3.7 yards per carry and are third in the CAA with 119.7 rush yards allowed per game.
“I don’t see a weakness on their defense,” head coach Chuck Priore said. “They fit their run plays as well as anybody that we play or have ever played. They have impact players up front. They’re very difficult to run the football against and they’ve got a good secondary.”
Entering last Saturday’s matchup, Delaware allowed 3.8 yards per carry and 120 rush yards per game, but the Blue Hens were not able to slow down redshirt junior running back Ty Son Lawton from posting a career-high 192 rush yards.
Lawton entered the Delaware matchup as the CAA’s leader in total rush yards this season, but his average of 105.1 rush yards per game is now also the best in the conference. The Seawolves most likely cannot count on another 99-yard touchdown to start the game, but they should still lean on Lawton despite another tough matchup.
Mancuso’s injury status will have a significant impact on Saturday’s game as the Spiders were living up to their preseason fourth-place projection prior to his absence. If Mancuso cannot go, the 11th-place Spiders will have a tough time winning on the road against the 10th-place Seawolves, who have finally found some momentum and will have extra motivation to send their homecoming crowd home happy.