2023 Stony Brook vs Rhode Island

CAA Football Week 2 Preview: Friday Night Lights And Rivalry Showdowns

CAA Football Week 2 Preview: Friday Night Lights And Rivalry Showdowns

The lights at Meade Stadium come on Friday night when Rhode Island hosts Stony Brook in the first of two CAA conference games headlining Week 2.

Sep 6, 2023 by Kyle Kensing
CAA Football Week 2 Preview: Friday Night Lights And Rivalry Showdowns

Meade Stadium's lights first came on in 2019 to illuminate an instant classic between Rhode Island and Delaware. 

HIGHLIGHTS: Delaware at Rhode Island

Almost four years to the day, Meade is home to an installment of Friday Night Lights in Coastal Athletic Association action as Rhody welcomes Stony Brook for a league showdown. 

The visiting Seawolves look to avoid an 0-2 start in what promises to be a tight CAA race. Stony Brook gave Delaware a fight for three quarters in Week 1 but couldn't maintain down the stretch in a 37-13 loss. 

"Overall, we played hard," Seawolves coach Chuck Priore said. "We have to reduce the big-play opportunities. In the fourth quarter, we had a chance when we went for it on fourth down and gave up a late interception for a touchdown. Against a good football team, you cannot make mistakes." 

Stony Brook sees another good football team in Rhode Island, coming off a 42-35 loss at Sun Belt Conference member Georgia State. The Rams largely outplayed the Panthers after an early Georgia State deluge, and Rhody had possession late with a chance to force overtime if not play for the win. 

If cutting down on big plays is a priority for Stony Brook, it will have its hands full against Rhode Island quarterback Kasim Hill and the explosive Rams offense. 

URI scored touchdowns of 20, 28 and 63 yards on Hill touchdown passes to John Erby, Marquis Buchanan and Darius Savedge, Kahtero Summers hauled in a pass for 40 yards, and Buchanan caught one for a game-long 73 yards. In total, Hill's 408 yards passing led all of the Football Championship Subdivision in Week 1. 

"Any time you've got a quarterback like we have and we have some receivers and bodies up front to protect him, you've got the opportunity to get the ball down the field," Rhode Island coach Jim Fleming said. "When you start looking at our offensive personnel and the things we have available to us, if we're able to execute the proper way, there's a good opportunity to have explosive plays in the run and pass game [all season]." 

Priore noted his team's defense flushed Delaware quarterback Ryan O'Connor out of the pocket nine times, got into the backfield for four sacks,  and with three interceptions in Week 1 now has as many picks in 2023 as all of 2022. Applying pressure and converting that to turnovers may be the visiting Seawolves' best bet for scoring the road win. 

Nick Chimienti was responsible for a pair of the Stony Brook interceptions Week 1, with Noah Rodriguez accounting for the third. Four different Seawolves accrued sacks — a byproduct of what Priore noted was Stony Brook employing a variety of personnel — between Anthony Ferrelli, Dyshier Clary, Clarens Legagneur and Rodney Faulk. 

Highlights: Delaware Vs. Stony Brook

Monmouth at Towson 

Week 2 features another conference showdown and a rematch of one of last season's most high-scoring affairs. Monmouth heads to Johnny Unitas Stadium for the first Towson home game of the Pete Shinnick era, and there should be plenty of fireworks in this one. 

Jaden Shirden debuted with what could be labeled a slow start by his lofty standards — and he still finished with 66 yards in the Hawks' Week 1 loss at FAU. Monmouth's All-American running back will look to get rolling in Week 2 against a CAA foe on which he rolled up 211 yards in 2022. 


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Meanwhile, Saturday marks the CAA debut of Marquez McCray, Monmouth's transfer quarterback. The Sacred Heart import McCray had a solid debut for the Hawks with 269 yards passing and a pair of touchdowns to Assanti Kearney and Dre Tucker. 

Monmouth coach Kevin Callahan said the Hawks coaching staff is "extremely optimistic" about McCray's ceiling as the season progresses. 

Towson kicked off with a tough matchup against the Big Ten's Maryland Terrapins, but Shinnick praised the Tigers' response after some first-quarter nerves. 

"Once we settled in, we started to play [like] I think we're capable," Shinnick said. "Our quarterback, Nathan Kent, had some jitters early on but I'm really proud of how he settled in and continued to progress over the course of the game." 

Kent went 16-of-31 for 128 yards, but avoided throwing any interceptions against the Terps defense. Ball control could prove invaluable for Towson against a Monmouth defense that showed some capacity for creating takeaways in Boca Raton. 

Jake Brown made an interception for the Hawks, while Tyrese Wright forced a fumble. 

Emphasis for the Monmouth defense will be on improving on first downs and in the red zone, Callahan said. 

North Carolina Central at North Carolina A&T 

Dating back to 1922, Saturday marks the 95th installment in the regional rivalry between North Carolina Central and North Carolina A&T. 

North Carolina Central snapped a four-game A&T winning streak with last year's 28-13 decision in Charlotte, part of an outstanding season for the Eagles that included wins over CAA co-champion New Hampshire and Jackson State in the Celebration Bowl. 


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NCCU and A&T opened 2023 with much different opponents; the Eagles inundated Div. II Winston-Salem State 37-0 by halftime and played reserves in the second half of a 47-21 blowout. The Aggies kicked off with a 35-6 loss at FBS opponent UAB. 

"Any time you're playing an FBS program, you know there's going to be some challenges with the speed and the talent level," said A&T coach Vincent Brown, who made his debut in the Week 1 loss. "But I think our guys are up to the task of being able to move the ball, to be efficient with our decision-making, todistribute the ball to our playmakers." 

Coming out of that game, the most important aspect: Making sure we're finding ways to feature our best players," Brown added. 

A&T struggled to pass against UAB, totaling just 16 yards in the air, but Wesley Graves, Kenji Christian and Eli Brickhandler all showed promise carrying the ball. The quarterbacks Brickhandler and Kevin White are on a "learning curve," Brown said while settling in. 

NCCU's quarterback, meanwhile, is ahead of the curve. Davius Richard is one of the most exciting dual-threat playmakers in the FCS and he opened his 2023 campaign with four total touchdowns: three in the air and one rushing. 

Containing Richard is Job No. 1 for an A&T defense that opened with a promising showing from linebacker BJ Turner. Turner made 14 tackles at UAB, including 2.5 for loss. 

"He is one of the more cerebral players I've been around in a long time," Brown said — no small praise, given Brown played linebacker for the New England Patriots for eight years, worked on a University of Virginia team with All-American Chris Long, and most recently coordinated William & Mary's CAA-winning defense

"[Turner] loves football," Brown said. "He's a high-effort guy and has really started to assert himself as one of the leaders on our defense." 

Norfolk State at Hampton 

Another regional rivalry set for Week 2 sees Hampton, coming off an impressive Week 1 win over Grambling, aiming for consecutive wins in the Battle of the Bay for the first time since 2012 and 2013. 

The Pirates won a defensive slugfest over the Spartans in 2022, 17-7, one year removed from losing an offensive shootout in overtime, 47-44. 

"It's a rivalry game. You don't know what you're going to get," Hampton coach Robert Prunty said. 

While the scores of the last two meetings diverge, both games encapsulate the heated nature in Battle of the Bay contests. One would have to go back to Hampton's 28-14 win in 2012 for the last encounter decided by more than 10 points. 

Since 2007, six installments were decided by one possession — four of which came within a field goal or less. 

So one thing Prunty and the Pirates do know when the Spartans cross the bridge, and vice versa, is to expect a...well, battle. And Prunty knows about Norfolk State coach Dawson Odums. 

"I know he's a veteran coach, and I know he's going to have his guys ready," Prunty said. 

Odums came to Norfolk State in 2021 after an impressive tenure at Southern. He coached the Jaguars to four SWAC West titles in his nine seasons there, and finished above .500 in eight consecutive seasons. Odums' last six seasons at SU never produced a win percentage less than 66.7. 

NSU dropped a surprising Week 1 decision to Virginia State — and while Prunty emphasized not putting too much stock in the result while evaluating the Spartans, Norfolk State surrendering 316 yards rushing may be a boon for a Hampton offense that had two players eclipse the century mark in Week 1. 

Quarterback Christofer Zellous ran for 114 yards and two scores en route to earning CAA Offensive Player of the Week, while running back Darran Butts gained 103 yards and scored a touchdown. 

Running back Elijah Burris added another 66 yards to Hampton's 279 in the 35-31, season-opening win.