SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Highlighted by six home games for the first time since the 2014 season, first-year head coach Chris Merritt announced the 2019 Bryant University football schedule on Tuesday.
The Bulldogs will be playing a 12-game schedule for the first time since 2013 and for just the second time in program history. Bryant will face two teams for the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) and one each from the Patriot and Ivy League in non-conference play. The Black and Gold will then play an eight-game Northeast Conference schedule for the first time since 2012 thanks to the addition of Merrimack and Long Island University to the league.
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Bryant lifts the lid on the 2019 season with a trip across the Long Island Sound to take on Stony Brook, a 2018 NCAA Tournament team. The opener will take place on Thursday, August 29, making it the second time the Bulldogs and Seawolves will open against each other on a Thursday night. The last time was 2014 when the Black and Gold defeated Stony Brook, 13-7. Last season, Bryant erased a 20-point deficit in the third quarter but the Seawolves were able to pick up a 50-21 victory to improve to 3-1 in the all-time series.
The Bulldogs will then head to New York's capital to take on Albany on Sept. 7. It will be the first meeting between the two programs since the Great Danes left the NEC following the 2012 season. Bryant and Albany met four times from 2009-2012, with each team winning two games. The Black and Gold picked up one of their most impressive wins as a Division I program against the Great Danes in 2011, earning a come-from-behind victory on the road to hand Albany its only league loss of the year.
Following its sojourn in New York State, the Bulldogs return to the Ocean State to start a three-game stretch at the David M. '85 and Terry Beirne Stadium Complex. Bryant starts the homestand with Fordham on Sept. 14 and then welcomes in-state rival Brown on Sept. 21 to wrap up non-conference play. The Bulldogs hold a 3-1 series lead over Fordham thanks to Luke Samperi 's (Beverly, Mass.) game-winning field goal last fall. Bryant and Brown will then renew their rivalry after not playing in 2018. The Bears lead the four-game series, 3-1.
Bryant then begins its quest for its first-ever NEC title when it hosts Saint Francis U (Sept. 28) on Homecoming and Reunion Weekend. The Bulldogs lead the all-time series with SFU but the Red Flash have won each of the last three meetings.
The Bulldogs will then renew an old NE-10 rivalry when they travel to the NEC's newest member, Merrimack. Bryant and Merrimack have met five times since the Bulldogs moved to the Division I level in 2008 but built quite the rivalry back when both played in the NE-10. The Bulldogs have won each of the last seven meetings and will be playing in North Andover for the first time since 2007.
Bryant will take on the other new league member, Long Island University, the following weekend at home. LIU Brooklyn and LIU Post announced their plans to merge schools last fall and the LIU Post football team was elevated to the Division I level. The Bulldogs are familiar with LIU Post, having met seven times as members of the NE-10.
The Black and Gold will then play three of their final five games on the road beginning with trips to Central Connecticut (Oct. 19) and Robert Morris (Oct. 26). Bryant's final road game of the year is a trip to Wagner (Nov. 23) on the final day of the regular season.
Bryant's final two home games are against the two teams that shared the 2018 NEC title, Duquesne and Sacred Heart. The Bulldogs and Pioneers renew their rivalry on Nov. 2 before the Dukes come to town on Nov. 16. Bryant beat Duquesne on the road last season, handing the Dukes their only league loss of the season.