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Stony Brook's powerful run game will challenge Villanova
When Villanova visits Stony Brook on Saturday in a first-round Football Championship Subdivision playoff game, the Wildcats will be facing a team with a similar offensive mind-set, one which likes to move on the ground but can be a threat passing the ball.
Yet it’s 9-2 Stony Brook’s ground game that will draw the most attention. Villanova (8-3) will have to stop a player, Marcus Coker, who just last year was second in the Big Ten in rushing with 1,384 yards for Iowa.
And he’s not even the first-string running back.
Coker sees extensive time, but he plays behind senior Miguel Maysonet, who leads FCS schools this season with 1,721 yards. A 5-foot-10, 210-pound senior, Maysonet is averaging 7.7 yards per carry and has scored 21 touchdowns, 19 on the ground.
Maysonet played his freshman year at Hofstra, but after the school dropped football after the 2009 season, he transferred to Stony Brook.
“He is a compact runner, a downhill runner, physical and elusive, and he really delivers,” Stony Brook coach Chuck Priore said. “He has played great games against everybody.”
Case in point was a 28-17 loss to Syracuse, one of the more improved Football Bowl Subdivision teams in the country. In that game, which Stony Brook led by 17-14 at halftime, Maysonet gained 158 yards on 21 carries and scored on a 71-yard run.
During a 23-3 win over another FBS school, Army, Maysonet rushed for 220 yards and two touchdowns on 32 carries.
According to a school official, 31 of the 32 NFL teams have scouted Maysonet this season.
Maysonet is a finalist for the Walter Payton Award, presented to the FCS player of the year, but Villanova coach Andy Talley realizes that the Seawolves are far from a one-man team.
“Stony Brook has two great running backs who can really come at you,” Talley said.
Coker, a 6-0, 230-pound junior who transferred after being suspended last season because of a violation of the student-athlete code of conduct, has rushed for 851 yards (5.1 average) and nine touchdowns this year.
And if anybody thinks that this team, which averages 39.1 points per game, is one-dimensional, Stony Brook has one of the top FCS receivers in senior Kevin Norrell, who began his college career at Washington State.
This season Norrell has 60 receptions for 1,291 yards and 14 touchdowns. Quarterback Kyle Essington has thrown 22 touchdown passes and eight interceptions.
The running game may be needed more than normal this week. That’s because Essington has not practiced this week and is questionable with a thigh injury, according to a school official. Junior Lyle Negron has taken all of the first-team snaps.
Norrell is one of 11 players on the roster who have attended an FBS school before going to Stony Brook. Villanova has none.
Another potential NFL prospect is right tackle Michael Bamiro, a 6-8, 345-pound junior who didn’t have a lot of high school experience but who continues to improve.
Junior all-conference linebacker Jawara Dudley is among the leaders on a defense that is allowing 16 points per game.
Stony Brook, which will be joining the Colonial Athletic Association in football next season, earned an at-large bid after losing the tiebreaker to Coastal Carolina, which earned the Big South Conference’s automatic bid.
This is the second straight year in the playoffs for the Seawolves, who lost a second-round game last season to Sam Houston State.
By Marc Narducci, Philadelphia Inquirer