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Stony Brook can't find any momentum in opening loss at Air Force

Stony Brook's Donavin Washington, right, goes for a 37-yard punt return during the first half of the Seawolves' 38-0 loss Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018, at Air Force Academy, Colo.   Photo Credit: AP/David Zalubowski

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — Saturday’s Stony Brook season opener at Air Force started with a bad omen.

A delay of game penalty was called on the Seawolves before the first snap, setting up what would be a long afternoon for Stony Brook. Two 38-minute lightning delays and a sluggish offensive effort halted Stony Brook’s momentum in a 38-0 loss to the Falcons.

The Seawolves put up just...

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AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — Saturday’s Stony Brook season opener at Air Force started with a bad omen.

A delay of game penalty was called on the Seawolves before the first snap, setting up what would be a long afternoon for Stony Brook. Two 38-minute lightning delays and a sluggish offensive effort halted Stony Brook’s momentum in a 38-0 loss to the Falcons.

The Seawolves put up just 75 total yards, and had just four first downs. At halftime, Stony Brook had moved the chains once, thanks to an Air Force pass interference penalty.

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“I think we were focused and ready to play but we did not execute correctly and if you don’t execute on offense, it’s going to be a problem,” Stony Brook coach Chuck Priore said. “We had some opportunities but once we lost some confidence, we didn’t really perform correctly.”

Stony Brook had a few opportunities early on, but had trouble executing in the red zone.

Air Force defensive back Robert Bullard, right, drags down Stony Brook wide receiver Marshall Ellick after he catches a pass in the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 1, 2018, at Air Force Academy, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

On the Seawolves' fourth drive of the game, trailing 14-0, they took over on the USAF 20-yard line by forcing a mis-execution on a Falcons punt. On third-and-goal from the 3, Jow Carbone’s pass sailed over the head of Donavin Washington. Stony Brook then faked a field goal, as holder Marc Nolan swung right and attempted a pass to the right corner, but the pass again went over the head of the intended receiver. Nick Courtney later missed a 45-yard field-goal attempt with 1:38 left in the first quarter.

“I think when you lose convincingly, you have one of two choices, you either make a big deal about it or no deal,” Priore said. “So there’s going to be no deal about this game. It’s going in the garbage and I told the team it’s staying here in Colorado, it’s not getting on the plane with us.”

But despite the offensive struggle, one member of the defense had a game to remember. Sophomore linebacker EJ Fineran, in his first start, had two fumble recoveries, broke up a pass and had a career-high seven tackles.

“I had a lot of things on my mind, first my family, and my coaches who count on me to play a big role in this game,” Fineran said. “It was my first game and I just wanted to give it all I had and work my tail off and be there for my team.”

Noah McGinty, who led the team in tackles with a career-high 14, said he thought his defense performed well despite its long stints on the field.

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“Honestly, the defense was just trying to get off the field to get momentum, but we got punched in the mouth in the first quarter and that was a bit of a wake-up call for us. We just had to respond,” McGinty said. “We accepted the challenge, and we have a lot to work on but I’m not worried.”

Carbone was 5-for-16 for 30 yards and an interception. He was sacked twice and had minus-32 yards rushing. Donald Liotine led the Seawolves on the ground with 31 yards.

Air Force got on the board early with a 74-yard opening drive, and almost immediately made it back into the end zone thanks to a 31-yard pick-six by Kyle Johnson on Stony Brook’s second play on its second drive. A field goal and three more rushing touchdowns put the game on ice for Air Force.