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Red Storm blown out by Stony Brook, 34-9

There was nothing special about the St. John’s special teams in a 34-9 loss at Stony Brook Saturday night.

Chad King returned the opening kickoff — the first play in Stony Brook’s brand-new stadium — 94 yards and ran back a punt 67 yards later in the first quarter to give the Seawolves a quick 14-0 lead in front of a sellout crowd of 8,136, the largest ever to watch a Stony Brook sporting event.

“With the atmosphere here, 8,000 people over their heads, beautiful stadium, the worst thing you can do is get down like that on two plays, 14-0,” said St. John’s coach Bob Ricca. “Realistically that’s where the imbalance shows the most, when [Stony Brook has] 30 scholarships out there, athletes on an open field, they’re just too quick and they made things happen.”

King showed the Red Storm just how quick he is when teammate Londre Blocker handed him the opening kickoff at the 6-yard line. He ran up the far sideline, by the St. John’s bench, broke a pair of tackles and then cut in at the Red Storm 35-yard line and into the end zone unscathed to put the Seawolves ahead, 7-0, just 19 seconds into the game.

“How great is that? It’s like a picture-perfect story,” Stony Brook coach Sam Kornhauser said of the opening play of the new stadium. “How can you write a script better than that?” By returning a punt later in the quarter for his second touchdown.

King fielded Matt Magrone’s punt at the Stony Brook 27 and again sprinted down the right sideline, this time cutting inside the 10-yard line to put Stony Brook ahead, 14-0 with 7:07 left in the first quarter.

“I caught it and all I saw was a bunch of red shirts in front of me,” said King, who said coaches Kornhauser and offensive coordinator Mike McCarty predicted he’d return the opening kickoff for a touchdown. “All I could do is thank the guys who blocked for me. I guess I’m blessed again.”

“We really worked hard on our kickoff team this week,” said St. John’s junior linebacker Bobby Rosenberg, who led the Red Storm with 12 tackles. “Personally I didn’t do my job on that team, I take a lot of the blame on that. We just didn’t get it done.”

St. John’s (1-1) went with a more varied offense from last week, when Matt McGuire and Mark Murphy each rushed for over 100 yards.

But the Seawolves defense, led by Aden Smith and Bryan Karp, did a great job of limiting the Red Storm’s running game (St. John’s gained a total of 99 yards on the ground) and punishing St. John’s quarterback Matt Millheiser (13-for-31, 83 yards and one interception) whenever he dropped back in the pocket.

Meanwhile, Stony Brook senior quarterback Scott Bard decimated the Red Storm’s secondary by throwing for 190 yards and one touchdown, a 17-yard strike to Courtenay Mitchell to put Stony Brook ahead, 21-3 with 7:40 left in the third quarter.

The Red Storm’s lone touchdown came with 2:23 left in the third quarter when sophomore middle linebacker Michael Cantazaro picked up a muffed lateral from Bard to Ken Lockhart and ran it back 89 yards to cut St. John’s deficit to 21-9.

Next up for St. John’s is longtime rival Iona at DaSilva Memorial Field Friday at 6:30 p.m. The Gaels (1-1) are coming off a 34-0 loss to Wagner.

Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.

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