After earning its second victory of the season on Saturday, the Stony Brook football team will look to pick up its first winning streak of the year in its home finale today.
The Seawolves (2-7, 1-5 CAA) were able to bounce back from their loss to Albany, as kicker Angelo Guglielmello’s last second field goal propelled the team to a 24-22 win over Morgan State.
After earning the non-conference win, Stony Brook will jump back into Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) competition this Saturday when they take on the Towson Tigers at 1 p.m. The Tigers currently sit in eighth place in the CAA with a 4-5 overall record and 2-4 conference record. They will come into their matchup against Stony Brook on a two-game winning streak.
On paper, Towson’s offense is nothing special. The Tigers currently rank second-to-last in the CAA in scoring and total offense with 20.8 points and 315.6 yards per game. Their passing game has struggled greatly this season. They rank dead last in the CAA in passing offense, averaging a dismal 151.7 yards per game with only 10 passing touchdowns through nine games.
Despite Towson’s apparent offensive woes, there is much more to its offense than meets the eye. The Tigers sit in fifth in the CAA out of 13 teams in rushing offense, averaging 163.9 yards per game on the ground. Towson quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome has only averaged 138.1 passing yards per game this year, but he has been dynamic when running the ball. The shifty quarterback currently ranks 12th in the CAA with 52.3 rushing yards per game while also adding two rushing touchdowns.
Towson also boasts a solid backfield led by running backs Devin Matthews and Joachim Bangda. Matthews and Bangda have combined for six touchdowns while ranking 11th and 18th in rushing yards per game, respectively. The Tigers’ rushing game has been an integral part of their offense this season.
“They’ve gotten their run game going the last two weeks, which is helpful,” head coach Chuck Priore said during a press conference on Monday. “They’ve got a dual-threat quarterback who can hurt you both ways and tough running backs.”
Luckily for Stony Brook, their rushing defense has been very dependable. The Seawolves currently sit fourth in the CAA in rushing defense, as they have only allowed 3.8 yards per carry and 136.3 rushing yards per game this season. The team will once again look to linebacker De’Aundre Cruz to stop the run. The backup entered Saturday’s game after linebacker and captain Reidgee Dimanche exited due to injury. He made his presence felt immediately, racking up eight tackles and a forced fumble in the win.
“In the first quarter, Cruz came in and he played like the player we thought he would be,” Priore said. “He had a really good game … fit the run well and finished plays. It was exciting to see.”
On the contrary, Towson tends to struggle against the run. The Tigers are second-to-last against the run and have allowed 187.2 yards per game and 5.0 yards per carry this year. Look for Stony Brook to utilize running back Ross Tallarico, who had a monster game against Morgan State. Tallarico — now the team’s bell cow back — racked up a career-high 151 yards and two touchdowns on 36 carries.
Despite the unit’s struggles in containing the run this season, Towson turned a corner against Villanova in its last time out. Villanova ranks third in the CAA in rushing offense with 202.2 yards per game, but the Tigers were able to hold them to just 85 rushing yards with no touchdowns.
Priore did not announce a starting quarterback in his press conference on Monday. True freshman Charlie McKee has had a tough last two games. Over the last two weeks, he has completed 12 of his 27 passes for 128 yards, no touchdowns and five interceptions. Two of those picks were returned for touchdowns. He was benched in both games for Daron Bryden, who led the team on a game-winning drive against Morgan State.
Bryden has not thrown an interception in any of his last four appearances. However, he only played a full four quarters in one of those games. He is 33-for-62 with 343 yards and three touchdowns during that stretch.
In addition to the on-field action, this will surely be an emotional game for many graduating Stony Brook players, as it will be their final time playing at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium.
“[They are] a bunch of good kids,” Priore said. “I think we have 11 six-year kids that will be playing their last football game here. Six years is a long time to be in college and I’m happy to say that they’re going to leave with their degrees. They’re all going to be getting their master’s. I think, obviously, it was a little frustrating of a season. It’s not what they wanted but they’ve been great leaders and they’re excited about Saturday’s opportunity.”
If the Seawolves beat Towson, they would finish the year with a winning record at home (3-2). It would also give them a three-game winning streak at home to end the season.