By Myron Hosea
CSN So South Columnist
College Sporting News
Stony Brook defeated conference rival Liberty 41-31 last weekend to win the Big South Conference and capture the league’s automatic qualifier spot in the playoffs. In doing so, the Seawolves became the first team other than Coastal Carolina to represent the Big South in the FCS playoffs.
Another team from the state of New York will be Stony Brook’s opponent when Albany visits for the 2 p.m. game this Saturday. Both teams are 8-3. The Great Danes tied for the Northeast Conference title with Duquesne. Stony Brook won the Big South outright with a 6-0 mark. The Seawolves enter the playoffs with an eight-game winning streak.
Upon arrival, the Great Danes will find a team that ranks in the top 10 nationally in five statistical categories:
- First in scoring offense at 39.6 points per game
- Third in rushing offense at 287.4 yards per game
- Sixth in total offense at 449.4 yards per game
- Ninth in rushing defense at 95.4 yards per game
- Sixth in red zone defense at 65 percent
Stony Brook’s dynamic rushing attack appears to be the Seawolves’ big advantage. The Great Danes allow 151 yards a game on the ground, and they’ll have to face the running back duo of Miguel Maysonet (214 rushes for 1,485 yards and 15 touchdowns) and Brock Jackolski (179 rushes for 1,229 yards and 13 touchdowns).
Kyle Essington took over at quarterback after an injury ended Michael Coulter’s career at Stony Brook. He passed for 1,435 yards. He tossed 16 touchdown passes against only two interceptions. Jordan Gush (35 receptions) and Kevin Norrell (33) are his top targets.
Don’t get the idea Albany’s offense can’t keep up. The Great Danes average 34 points and 421 yards a game. Senior quarterback Dan Di Lella is 18th nationally in points responsible for 14 points a game. He threw 24 touchdown passes against eight interceptions and passed for 2,325 yards. Wide receivers Ryan Kirchner and Cole King caught 44 and 30 passes respectively.
Passing may be an advantage for the Great Danes. They average 231 yards passing a game while Stony Brook’s pass defense ranks 99th in FCS.
Albany brings a third 1,000-yard rusher to the game. Drew Smith ran for 1,052 yards and nine scores.
Leading Stony Brook’s defense are defensive backs Donald Porter (five interceptions, tops in the Big South) and Dan Mulrooney (63 total tackles).
Pacing Albany’s defense are inside linebacker Jon Morgan (97 total tackles) and defensive end Eddie Delaney (8.5 sacks).
This game is a proving ground for a former NEC team in Stony Brook facing the NEC champ; Seawolves coach Chuck Priore was a three-year starter for Albany's football team and is a protege of Albany's legendary coach Bob Ford; and the two newest AQ teams in the FCS.
The winner gets to travel to No. 1 seed Sam Houston State next week.