Of the many teams in the Colonial Athletic Association harboring FCS Playoffs hopes heading into November, Richmond and Stony Brook are two coming off critical wins that kept those hopes alive.
Who: No. 20 Stony Brook (5-3, 2-2 CAA) at Richmond (4-4, 3-1 CAA)
When: Saturday, Nov. 2, 3 p.m. ET
Where: Robins Stadium; Richmond, Virginia
Watch: LIVE on FloFootball
Electrifying special teams plays highlighted Richmond’s win at Delaware, another example of the Spiders’ ability to rebound from adversity.
Running back Aaron Dykes, who returned two kickoffs for touchdowns in the Week 9 win at Delaware, called this “back against the wall” time for the Spiders.
Facing similar pressure to maintain its postseason aspirations, Stony Brook stunned then-No. 5-ranked Villanova on the road last week when Tyquell Fields come up big in the clutch.
Right near midfield, the same place from which he broke a game-winning touchdown run against Rhode Island, Fields fired a deep pass to set up a Seawolves field goal.
“If you want to have some fun, let’s put our head on straight and play football,” Priore said of his halftime message to the team at Villanova.
Stony Brook’s long been a program known for its stifling defense and methodical brand of offense. And while the Seawolves D is certainly still tough – it’s allowing 3.9 yards per carry and ranks third in the CAA against the run overall – the ability to score in bunches has been a hallmark of the 2019 squad.
Fourth-quarter outbursts against the CAA’s two highest-ranked teams, James Madison and Villanova, put Stony Brook in position to win both games. The Seawolves fell short in overtime against the Dukes, but solidified their playoff resume with the win over the Wildcats.
In both instances, Fields’ mobility and big arm worked in concert with a multifaceted run game. The addition of Ty Son Lawton back into the lineup after injury has provided a needed spark, particularly with Isaiah White sidelined.
Richmond’s sack-hungry defense, which ranks second in the CAA with 23, must get after Fields early and consistently and force abbreviated Seawolves possessions. Stony Brook doesn’t allow many sacks, giving up only 10 on the year; but the pass-rushing duo of Maurice Jackson and Kobie Turner may be the best the Seawolves have seen since John Daka and Mike Greene made 2.5 sacks with two forced fumbles for JMU at Stony Brook on Oct. 5.
Man On The Run
The aforementioned Stony Brook run defense starts with an ability to get into opposing backfields. The Seawolves have an eye-popping 60 tackles for loss through Week 9, which ranks 23rd nationally.
Rover Augie Contressa, linebacker Reidgee Dimanche, defensive back Gavin Heslop, defensive linemen Brandon Lopez and Odean Gilzene, and NFL-caliber end Sam Kamara all have at least 4.5 tackles for loss. Kamara recently returned from injury, too, only making the Stony Brook presence all the more intimidating.
Quarterback Joe Mancuso will have to read the multi-dimensional pressures Stony Brook brings and react effectively. Mancuso sets the tone for Richmond’s run game as its leading ball-carrier, posting 51.38 yards per game with six touchdowns.
Dykes is the tops among running backs with 265 yards.
Since returning from injury in October, Mancuso’s bolstered his rushing with a more effective passing attack. He threw for 226 yards in a win over Maine, three touchdowns against Yale, and went 21-of-29 for 280 yards last week vs. Delaware.
That ability to balance the run and the pass becomes critical against the Stony Brook defense.
Down To The Wire
Richmond and Stony Brook have both had penchants for late-game dramatics. The Seawolves have been more successful in such situations, beating Rhode Island and Villanova in the final minute on Fields’ big plays. They also had a drive in the waning moments to force overtime against James Madison.
Richmond’s been through some tough scenarios this season, losing to Fordham when a final possession stalled deep in Rams territory. Against Yale, the Elis had a torrid final two minutes that reversed the final score of a game the Spiders controlled much of the way.
Being able to swing momentum back in its favor whenever Delaware threatened suggests Richmond may be ready to turn a corner. Defense handled its business late in wins over UAlbany and Maine, while the special teams plays and big strikes from the offense – most notably a long-ball touchdown to Keyston Fuller – sealed the win over Delaware.