Defense shows promise in Stony Brook spring game

Stony Brook wide receiver Malcolm Eugene (5) makes

Stony Brook wide receiver Malcolm Eugene (5) makes the reception as defensive back Winston Longdon (38) moves in for the tackle during an intersquad scrimmage. (April 28, 2013) (Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan)

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Stony Brook football under coach Chuck Priore always has been identified with its power running game, but if Sunday's spring game is any indication, the Seawolves will have a tough defense to match as they move from the Big South to the Colonial Athletic Association.

Technically, the offense scored a 33-30 victory over the defense based on a convoluted scoring system, but in truth, the defense dominated. Fifteen offensive possessions produced only one 2-yard touchdown run by third-string tailback James Kenner and field goals of 42 and 29 yards by new placekicker Graham Ball.

The defense intercepted starting quarterback Lyle Negron once, recovered a Kenner fumble, recorded three sacks, including two by defensive end Victor Ochi, and forced 10 punts. The Seawolves have lost safeties Dominick Reyes and Cedric Moore along with rover Dan Mulrooney, but the stars of the scrimmage were their replacements, Christian Ricard, Naim Cheeseboro and new transfers Zedrick Gardner and Max Martinez, who formed a four-man rotation at those three spots.

"We're a good defensive team," Priore said. "Our last three spring games, including this one, it's been about the same."

Ricard, who had an interception, forced the fumble and recorded seven tackles, became a major contributor by the end of last season when the Seawolves reached the second round of the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs for the second straight season.

"Ricard is a very good player," Priore said. "As the season went on last year, he was one of our best defensive players. That's why we've moved him to free safety. He's athletic, he's instinctive and he understands the defense.

"I don't care what level you play, you win with defense first. Our defense the last two years has gotten better and better, and we need to continue to get better."

Running back Marcus Coker, who rotated with Miguel Maysonet last season, carried six times for 64 yards, including a 43-yard run. Priore said his workload might increase this season, but the Seawolves also have a freshman running back coming in -- Lawrence High's Tyler Fredericks -- who will compete with Jamie Williams (13-39) and Kenner (13-28) for the backup role.

Negron, who completed 12 of 18 passes for 94 yards, also has big shoes to fill in replacing Kyle Essington, the FCS passing efficiency leader last season. "I thought I had a good spring and got better every day," Negron said. "I had a rough day today. I was a little inconsistent. I was upset with that."

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