Running back Jayden Cook running the ball on Saturday, Oct. 22. The Stony Brook football team was blown out by Albany on Saturday in the eighth annual Battle for the Golden Apple. CAMRON WANG/THE STATESMAN

Nothing went right for the Stony Brook football team as it lost the battle of SUNY football supremacy in blowout fashion.

The Seawolves (1-7, 1-5 CAA) returned to the bottom of the conference on Saturday after suffering a 59-14 blowout at the Albany Great Danes. After winning each of the last two Golden Apple trophies, Stony Brook relinquished it without much of a fight, being overmatched from the get-go.

Albany wasted no time giving Stony Brook its best effort. Quarterback Reese Poffenbarger drove the Great Danes’ offense right down the field, marching 85 yards in 10 plays to score the game’s first touchdown. Poffenbarger completed all six of his passes for 78 yards on the drive, capping it off with a 25-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Julian Hicks. 

On Stony Brook’s opening drive, quarterback Charlie McKee threw a 51-yard pick six to Albany defensive end Anthony Lang. Lang leapt up and picked McKee’s pass off as he tried to throw to the sideline, and was left with plenty of room to run. Albany’s defense then forced a three-and-out on the ensuing drive, giving Poffenbarger the ball back leading 14-0.

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The Great Danes were gifted a short field by their punt return unit. Poffenbarger and company marched right down the field once again and took a 21-0 lead after a rushing touchdown by running back Jose Lopez-Quinones. 

“The ball didn’t bounce our way correctly early,” head coach Chuck Priore said in a postgame interview with Stony Brook Athletics. “It allowed Albany to get great field position and some fairly easy points in the first quarter.”

Trailing by three touchdowns after just one quarter, the writing seemed to be on the wall for Stony Brook. On the first play of the second quarter, McKee was flushed out of the pocket and overthrew his receiver, ultimately being picked off by safety Semaj Brown. Poffenbarger took advantage of another short field, tossing a 25-yard touchdown to wide receiver Parker Jackson.

Albany tacked on 10 more points before the half ended, as Poffenbarger threw a third touchdown pass.

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The third quarter began exactly how the second quarter began: McKee was picked off on the first play from scrimmage. Albany defensive end Anton Juncaj deflected McKee’s pass at the line and linebacker AJ Mistler was there for the tip drill interception. 

Poffenbarger made Stony Brook pay once more, finding Hicks again for a 15-yard touchdown. It was Poffenbarger’s fourth touchdown pass of the day and his 20th of the year. For Hicks, it was his third touchdown grab of the game after entering the contest with only two.

The Great Danes broke the 50-point mark with another rushing touchdown at the 4:08 mark in the third quarter. It was their first time scoring over 50 points in a game since the final game of the 2012 season, when they beat Central Connecticut State 63-34

Trailing 52-0 in the third quarter, McKee was picked off for a fourth time. Tight end Cal Redman dropped a pass and cornerback Isaac Duffy picked it off on the ricochet. McKee’s afternoon was done after that, finishing the game 7-for-15 passing with 67 yards, no touchdowns and four interceptions. Despite struggling immensely, Priore will not waver from starting McKee moving forward.

“Charlie unfortunately had a couple of interceptions that were tips and balls through people’s hands,” Priore said. “I just felt it was time. It has nothing to do with next week. It was just opportunity to get Daron [Bryden] some reps.”

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Albany scored a touchdown after all four interceptions, giving themselves 28 points off four turnovers. Albany’s backup quarterback, Tyler Szalkowski, threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to wideout Kristen McAdams to make it 59-0 at the end of three quarters.

Bryden took over in place of McKee and led Stony Brook on two scoring drives in the fourth quarter. To open the fourth quarter, Bryden drove the offense down the field and fired a touchdown pass down the middle to wide receiver Delante Hellams Jr., breaking up the shutout in the process. On the Seawolves’ next drive, running back Makhai Jinks scored the first touchdown of his career on a one-yard rush.

Hellams Jr.’s touchdown was his first since the 2020 season against Maine.

Jinks was the Seawolves’ best player on Saturday, carrying the ball 10 times for 65 yards and the aforementioned touchdown. Jinks was a linebacker in training camp, but converted to running back out of necessity. 

In other news, running back Jayden Cook was active on Saturday. In his postgame press conference last Saturday, Priore said that Cook would likely miss the rest of the season with a high-ankle sprain.

Despite entering play without a win in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) and the worst scoring defense in the conference, Albany owned every categorical advantage one could ask for. The Great Danes outgained the Seawolves 405-234. They won the battle on the ground and through the air against Stony Brook. They also were +4 in turnover differential and picked up more first downs. On third down, Stony Brook could not keep them off the field, as the Great Danes went 10-for-13 (76.9%) on third down. Stony Brook was only 1-for-11, but did manage to go 5-for-6 on fourth down. Albany also scored in all six of its red zone trips. 

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Ironically, all of the short fields and quick scores that Albany pulled off allowed Stony Brook to win the battle of possession. That is not the first time this year that the Seawolves have endured such an occurrence

After Towson pulled off a high-scoring 52-48 upset over Monmouth on Saturday, the Seawolves officially fell back into last place in the CAA. Stony Brook will get a reprieve from conference games this Saturday when they host the Morgan State Bears at 1 p.m. The Bears are 3-5 this year and 0-4 on the road.

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Mike Anderson is the sports editor at The Statesman. He is a senior majoring in journalism with aspirations of becoming a sports journalist. His love of sports comes from his time spent as a baseball player. As a reporter for The Statesman, he has covered baseball, softball, football, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s soccer, men's and women's lacrosse, women's volleyball and hockey. He has also interned at Axcess Sports as a high school and college baseball and softball reporter. He is a local product from Port Jefferson, N.Y. and is a diehard Mets, Jets, Nets and Islanders fan.

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