Football Readies For Undefeated Sacred Heart

Oct. 13, 2000

Stony Brook, N.Y. - Today's Game: The Seawolves host the Pioneers in a Northeast Conference battle. Sacred Heart and Robert Morris remain the only teams still undefeated in the NEC.

The Series: Stony Brook has won all seven meetings between the two teams, including a 48-21 win last year at Sacred Heart. The Seawolves ground game proved to be the difference last year. Ralph Menendez racked up 207 yards on the ground to pace the Seawolves attack.

Last Week: Aaron Smith connected on 20-26 passing for 282 yards and three TDs to lead Wagner to a 35-9 win. Freshman quarterback David Rodriguez filled in for injured starter Brian Stanley and had 141 yards of total offense, including his first career TD pass to Chris McGovern in the fourth quarter.

Not So Special: The Stony Brook special teams have had some trouble this year. Last week, Wagner returned a punt 72 yards for a TD to give them a 13-3 lead at the break. SB has had four punts blocked this year resulting in 24 opponent points. Stony Brook is also 3-6 in field goals attempts this year.

Stanley Gets Hurt: In the Wagner loss, quarterback Brian Stanley went down with a rib injury in the second quarter. Despite a badly bruised rib, Stanley may still start today at quarterback. He currently ranks third in the NEC in passing average per game (165.0) and total offense (187.8).

Will David Slay Goliath? If Stanley can't play, David Rodriguez will make his first start under center against undefeated Sacred Heart. Impressive against Wagner, Rodriguez will have his hands full against Sacred Heart. In his debut, Rodriguez totaled 141 yards - 55 on the ground and 86 through the air - and connected on his first career TD pass to Chris McGovern in the fourth quarter. The resurgent Pioneers have bounced back from a 2-9 campaign last year thanks in large part to a stingy defense. They rank second in the NEC in scoring defense (11.0 pts./game) and second in the NEC in rushing defense (92.2 ypg.)

Injuries Hit Hard: Lucas Niskanen-separated shoulder - out Jesse Reynolds - sprained ankle - out David Kopp - separated shoulder - out Dan Bertzos - sprained ankle - out

Can Ralph Repeat? In last year's matchup against Sacred Heart, Ralph Menendez enjoyed one of the finest days that any Stony Brook player has ever had. On 15 carries, he totaled 207 yards and three touchdowns - the most since Bobby Kane's three rushing scores in 1996. His 59 yards last Saturday pushed him over the 2,000 mark for his career and he is now 303 yards away from becoming Stony Brook'a all-time leading rusher.

Driving Alexis: Linebacker Alexis Ayala has been a standout on defense this season. He is second on the team in tackles with 34, averaging just under seven tackles per game. He has made things happen this year - he is tied for the team lead with two interceptions and has one fumble recovery to his credit.

Charles In Charge: Freshman wideout Charles Burrows made his first start at wideout last week in place of injured starter Lucas Niskanen. He caught three passes for 28 yards on the day. That followed an impressive effort a week earlier with a four-catch, 51-yard performance against Albany which led all Seawolves receivers. The 5-9 speedster from Southampton, N.Y. will continue to see more time in the absence of Niskanen.

My Name Is Lucas: With Niskanen out, the Seawolves are left with a big hole in their lineup. He ranks third all-time in receptions (112) and receiving yards (1,378). He ranks second on the team in receptions (12) this season.

The McGovernor: Junior wideout Chris McGovern has emerged as a go-to target in the Seawolves offense. He now has a team-leading 17 receptions for 221 yards and two touchdowns.

Fit For A King: Freshman cornerback Chad King continues to impress in his first season as a Seawolf. He is currently tied for second in the NEC for two interceptions and ranks fourth on the team in tackles with 25. He is the team leader with 19 solo takedowns.

Ouch: Since dismantling St. Francis (Pa.) by the score of 60-7 three weeks ago, the Seawolves have been outscored 82-23 in the last two weeks.

What Happened? The third quarter had been the Seawolves best throughout the season until last week's game against Wagner. Prior to last Saturday, the Seawolves had outscored their opponents 34-14 in the first quarter after halftime. Wagner turned that around by outscoring the Seawolves 15-0 last week to break open a 13-3 game.

Where Did The Run Go? In the season opener, the Seawolves ground game dominated Southern Connecticut led by freshman Clinton Graham who ran for 110 yards in his Seawolves debut, including a season-high 59-yard gallop on his second carry from scrimmage. Since the first game, the Seawolves have not had another 100+ yard rushing performance and their longest run from scrimmage has been a 23-yard run by David Rodriguez that took place in the waning moments of last week's loss to Wagner.

Red Zone Woes: The Seawolves have struggled in the red zone in recent weeks and have converted only 12 of 18 chances inside the opponents 20-yard line on the season.

Hitting The Road: After today's game, the Seawolves hit the road for three weeks before returning home to close out the 2000 season against Robert Morris on November 18.

Sack Attack: Despite giving up 282 yards in the air last week, the Seawolves defense put a great deal of pressure on the Wagner quarterback, registering a season-high six sacks. Linebacker Eric Martinez who started in place of Eric Hatkewitz easily turned in his best performance on the season with two sacks on the afternoon .

NEC Numbers: SB ranks 23rd in the nation in turnover margin (+1,0 tpg) and first in the NEC . . . the Seawolves rank last in the NEC in punting average (24.0) . . . LB Joe Schiraldo is tied for 3rd in the NEC with three sacks

Inside The Huddle: The new home of Stony Brook football is currently under construction behind the Stony Brook Indoor Sports Complex. The stadium is slated to be completed by November of 2001 . . . Stony Brook has been a member of four different football conferences in its history.

3-2-1 . . . Launch: The Seawolves unveiled their new web site on Wednesday, October 4th. Stony Brook has entered into a partnership with the FANSonly Network and debuted a exciting new look to its web page that features the latest news, bios, roster, schedules and information on Seawolves athletics. You can find the Seawolves on the Internet by logging on at

The Schedule: The 2000 schedule features eight conference games as newcomer St. John's joined the NEC this summer. The two non-conference opponents include Southern Connecticut and an October 28th matchup on the road against Jacksonville.

Captains: Quarterback Brian Stanley and free safety Paul Thomas will captain the 2000 Seawolves.