Life in the Colonial Athletic Association doesn't get any easier for Stony Brook. Coming off a wrenching 31-13 loss to New Hampshire that was their third straight to a ranked CAA opponent, the Seawolves travel to Maine for Saturday afternoon's meeting with the 10th-ranked Black Bears and quarterback Marcus Wasilewski.
Maine (7-1, 4-0 CAA) is first in the conference, and the Seawolves (3-4, 1-3) are desperate to put together the four-game winning streak they need to reach seven wins and eligibility for the FCS playoffs. They've given up an average of 33.7 points in their CAA losses, and now they're facing a Maine team that is first in the country in third-down conversions (55.2 percent) and 19th in total offense (460.9 yards).
Wasilewski ranks 10th nationally in total offense (307.1 yards) and passing efficiency (157.2). He has completed 69.8 percent of his passes for an average of 257.9 yards and has rushed for 49.2 per game. "He's the best quarterback we've played as far as the ability to do everything,'' SBU coach Chuck Priore said. "They're playing very efficient football offensively. They've done a great job on first down. We've got to stop the run and put them in longer situations.''
Pressure will be on the Seawolves' secondary, which gave up three touchdown passes to New Hampshire. Wasilewski makes it tough by spreading the ball around almost equally to wide receivers Derrick Johnson, John Ebeling and Damarr Aultman (Wheatley Hills) along with tight end Justin Perillo.
"It's similar to New Hampshire, so we're coming in with the same mindset -- good quarterback, nice corps of receivers, good running back, great offensive line,'' cornerback Winston Longden said. "The offensive line is the best we've seen, too. Tough, tough. We know we're coming in there for a fight.''
In a season marked by the loss to injury of starting cornerback Davonte Anderson and replacement Reuben Johnson, two-year starter Longden has been under constant pressure. He ranks fourth on the team in tackles (37) and first in passes defensed (six) and has an interception.
"We put him in man-to-man situations 80 percent of the game,'' Priore said. "So there's a lot of pressure. He's played a lot of reps. Instead of being able to rotate, we haven't been able to take him off the field. He gets a little fatigued.''
Longden said the Seawolves have to put the tough CAA losses behind them. "It should be an exciting game,'' he said. "We're coming there with fire.''