Archive for October, 2010

Penguins Drop Another Nailbiter, 34-30, To Northern Iowa

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The point was made earlier on this very website that YSU had lost their last nine games against Northern Iowa.  The argumentative point was also made that Coach Eric Wolford had never lost to the Panthers.  Something had to give and a streak would be broken. Unfortunately for YSU, Wolford did end up losing to Northern Iowa, 34-30, on Homecoming Saturday.

Youngstown State got on the board to take the lead with 11:18 to go in the opening period when Kurt Hess found seldom used Andre Barboza for a 33-yard touchdown.  The drive marked what had now become a Penguin stereotype of jumping out to early leads and yielding late touchdowns.

Northern Iowa scored on the last play of the first quarter.  Billy Hallgren kicked a 20-yard field goal.  The Panthers appeared to have scored a touchdown, but it was nullified by a penalty.  Hallgren’s kick made the score 7-3.

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With 14:14 left in the first half, Dominique Barnes did his thing, making yet another big play for Youngstown State.  Hess hit Barnes with a nice pass and Barnes ran about 40 yards down the YSU sideline for a 71-yard TD to increase the Penguins lead to 14-3.

Schuylar Oordt shrunk the YSU lead to 14-10 when he caught a 39-yard touchdown pass for the Panthers.  Tirrell Rennie, known more for his running than passing at QB, threw a nice ball to Oordt who ran a post and didn’t have a Penguin very close to him.

The Penguins threatened again as time was running out in the first half.  Will Shaw picked off a Rennie pass two yards deep in his own end zone and took off the other way.  Shaw made it all the way to the Northern Iowa ten.  After a couple of plays, the Penguins lined up for a third down FG attempt.  Marc Kanetsky, the holder for Stephen Blose, picked the ball up and barely missed a tight end on the fake. With one second left in the half, Blose connected from 27 to give the Penguins a 17-10 lead.

The second half was a true battle of field position and long drives.  Northern Iowa tied the game with 5:32 left in the third quarter. Rennie showed why he is such a threat as a runner for most of the drive.  The score came on Rennie’s 29-yard run to tie the game at 17-17.

The Panthers nabbed the lead with 14:20 left in the game when Hallgren booted a 32-yard field goal.  Northern Iowa capped off a nine play, 53 yard drive with the field goal to hold their first lead of the afternoon.

Youngstown State would respond when they pieced together a nice drive.  With 8:39 left in the game, Adaris Bellamy scored a touchdown on a two-yard run.  The drive that gave the Penguins a 23-20 lead took 13 plays and covered 81 yards.  Stephen Blose missed the extra point to the right to keep the Panthers just a field goal behind.

The Panthers took the lead back when Jarred Herring scored on an 11-yard run.  The touchdown capped off a seven play, 58 yard drive and made the score 27-23 in favor of visiting Northern Iowa.

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With 2:27 left in the game, Jamaine Cook broke off a 39-yard run for a touchdown.  With the run, Cook became the third person to gain 100 plus yards against a tough Panther defense.  The run also gave Cook 1,000 yards for his career so far as a Penguin.

Carlos Anderson took the kickoff 58 yards to the Penguin 19 yard line.  On the very next play, Rennie scored on a 19-yard run with 2:08 left to play and the trend of Youngstown State blowing late leads looked to be in the process of happening yet again.  The quick turn of events made the score 34-30 in favor of the Panthers.

Youngstown State (3-6, 1-5) had a chance, but they ran out of downs and the end result was a 34-30 win for Northern Iowa in another heartbreaking loss.  Kurt Hess, after the game, talked about the mindset of what happens to the Penguins through a game.  ”We were confident in our defense stopping them.  We also thought that if they scored that we could answer.  We will live with it for 24 hours, come Monday we need to prepare to play another game and put this behind us.”

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Coach Wolford talked about the loss and maybe playing to the level of the competition being a good and a bad thing.  ”We have guys who continue to massage this thing.  We have to contain the football, it’s a concept of knowing where the help is.  Make sure the ball doesn’t get outside you.  I can handle getting beat, but cant handle giving games away.  I am confident that we are very close.  I’m not going to make excuses for where we are at, but I will tell you that we are close.”

Hess finished the game 14-22 for 218 yards.  Barnes caught 4 balls for 89 yards, and Cook had 26 rushes for 127 yards and a touchdown. Cook also caught three passes for 26 yards.

Northern Iowa (5-3, 4-1) was led by Rennie who was 8-16 for 152 yards and 28 carries for 194 yards on the ground.  He had two rushing touchdowns and a passing touchdown for the Panthers.

Green Bay Shuts Out Youngstown, 2-0, Behind Ryan McKay

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The Youngstown Phantoms rushed out of the gate to a 4-1 record this season.  Unfortunately, the injury bug has already sunk it’s piercing teeth into the depth chart of the Phantoms who have lost their last three games with a shortened bench.  The Phantoms looked to be getting reacquainted and played sloppy hockey for the first period, which was enough to cost them this game, bowing 2-0 to Green Bay.

Green Bay opened the scoring 8:18 into the first period.  Alex Broadhurst connected from just inside the right face off circle to beat Matthew O’Connor.  Broadhurst was assisted on his second goal of the season by Nolan LaPorte and Sam Herr.

Only 1:10 later, Green Bay made it 2-0 when Travis Lynch scored his second of the season.  Lynch took a pass from Grant Arnold and promptly flipped the puck over O’Connor’s right shoulder (below) to put the Phantoms into a big hole early.

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Neither team would score in the second or third periods.  Both goaltenders played very solid games.  O’Connor finished with 42 saves for the Phantoms.  Ryan McKay faced less shots (28) but stopped all of them to earn his first shutout of the season.  McKay made some great saves, but also received a couple of lucky bounces.  The Phantoms hit the post four times, three  times within one minor penalty toward the end of the second period.

After the game, Phantoms Coach Curt Carr talked about the rough results.  ”I thought we came out a little flat and I think that we are going through some growing pains right now.  I still like the way we battle and when we play our style of hockey, we are pretty good.”

The Phantoms (4-5) welcome in the Des Moines Buccaneers for a Saturday night game at The Covelli Centre. The puck drops at 7:30, catch some good hockey Youngstown!

#19 Northern Iowa At Youngstown State: Game Preview

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Youngstown State University (3-5, 1-4) is not going to throw away the rest of their season to focus on the future.  This team has been in transition since Eric Wolford was hired.  Guys have quit, transferred in, transferred out, redshirted, adapted, walked on, and have all played a part in the rebirth of football at Youngstown State.  The seniors who had to accept changes are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  This team is so much better than the record indicates.

Northern Iowa comes to town ranked 19th with only one loss in league play, and in sole possession of first place.  The Panthers are 4-3 overall and have remained a consistent winner for years.  In fact, Northern Iowa vs Youngstown State has had a consistent theme for the past nine seasons, a Panther win in every contest since 2000.  Throw in the fact that  YSU has lost four straight Homecoming games, and the writing should be on the wall.

Here are some things to consider before throwing this game into the loss column for the Penguins.  Eric Wolford has never lost to Northern Iowa or Mark Farley. Three of the nine consecutive losses have been by two points or less.  The last time they met in Youngstown, a blocked extra point late in the game preserved a 21-20 win.  Last season, the Panthers pretty much had their way and handed the Penguins a 28-7 setback.

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Youngstown State’s Defense needs to put forth a great effort to have a shot at a win this week.  Losing Andre Elliott has really hurt a secondary not expected to have problems this season.  Brandian Ross has been bouncing everywhere but teams have learned over the past few weeks to keep it away from him and pick on the young guys.  Will Shaw, Randy Louis, and Donald D’Alesio are contributing but also getting picked on at crucial spots of games.  Louis is now out indefinitely with shoulder problems.

Secondary Coach Ron Stoops talked about the defensive lapses.  ”Andre Elliott is hurt and we went into the first game with Nick [Gooden] and Shaw rotating.  Really, its not been the personnel, there is a pass rush, linebackers, underneath coverage and all kind of factors to consider.  We are not getting beat deep, more underneath and not tackling well as a defense.  Bottom line is that we do have some youth in the secondary and inexperience can also be a part of it.”

Offensively, the Penguins are scoring.  Senior Dominique Barnes set a record for catching a pass in 31 consecutive games and has more personal awards within reach.  Barnes is a team guy and personal records remain secondary.  The young “quad of doom” (Kurt Hess, Adaris Bellamy, Jamaine Cook, and Jordan Thompson) have produced as a group all year.  Not at all what you would expect from a sophomore and three freshmen.  Eric Rodemoyer has also been a force on the line.

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Northern Iowa could care less about it being the 70th year of YSU Football, the WATTS, or Homecoming. Their mission is to keep winning to make the postseason playoffs again.  The Panthers are led by QB Tirrell Rennie who likes to run.  Rennie had four rushing touchdowns last weekend against Illinois State and leads his team with 754 yards on 129 carries.  The Panthers also boast a very strong run defense that has only given up 100 yards twice this season.  They are a methodical and well-coached team.

Homecoming Festivities incude a pre-game parade to start jus before 11 a.m. and proceed to the stadium.  The court will be announced at halftime and a new king and queen will be crowned.  Kickoff for the game is 1 p.m. and the radio telecast can be heard on AM-570.  The game will also be shown on myTV at 10 p.m.

South Dakota State Sends Youngstown State Packing On Hobo Day, 30-20

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Youngstown State (3-5, 1-4) was looking to finish strong.  Having held second half leads in six of seven games this season, the kryptonite has been finishing.  A big crowd was on hand in Brookings, SD as the South Dakota State Jackrabbits held their annual Hobo Day.  Finishing would not be an issue because the Penguin Defense had no way to stop both Kyle Minett and Thomas O’Brien and YSU never had a lead in the second half and fell 30-20.

Kyle Minett wasted little time establishing the game plan the Jacks would want to follow.  South Dakota State took the opening kickoff and drove 68 yards in seven plays to take a 7-0 lead.  On the drive, Minett had four carries for 28 yards, and all the rest of the yardage, except for six,  was Minett receiving yards from Thomas O’Brien.

Youngstown State responded with their first offensive possession as Stephen Blose knocked in a 34-yard FG to make it 7-3.  On third down, deep in SDSU territory, an apparent pass interference call was never flagged, keeping the Missouri Valley Football Conference’s wishy-washy refs as an additional obstacle the Penguins must overcome to win.

Dominique Barnes took a step into the YSU all-time greats list when he caught a pass in his 31st consecutive game.  Barnes would also cap a drive that allowed YSU to nab the lead momentarily.  Kurt Hess found Barnes for a 33-yard strike.  Oddly enough, the drive Barnes establishes his record, Blose misses his first extra point attempt after converting 55 in a row.  With 1:41 left in the first quarter, it was YSU 9-7.

South Dakota State had been struggling with field goals.  Peter Reifenrath was called upon to attempt a chip shot of 25 yards. Reifenrath missed wide right and the Jacks were now 2/9 on FG’s this season.  Jamaine Cook fumbled finishing a hard run and Reifenrath got another shot, this time from 43 yards away.  He nailed the field goal to give SDSU a 10-9 lead with 4:59 left in the half.  On the drive, Minett was absent and believed to be banged up.

The Jackrabbits got a 53-yard hookup from O’Brien to Brandon Hubert with the first half time winding down to set up a first-and-goal on the YSU nine.  Colin Cochart hauled in an O’Brien heave on the next play to give the Jacks a 17-9 lead at the half.

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At the half, Penguins Coach Eric Wolford commented on being down after two quarters.  ”As sloppy of a half that we had, we are only down 17-9.  We have to quit shooting ourselves in the foot, but we will be ok.  I expect us to have a real good second half.”

The two teams exchanged third quarter field goals with YSU’s Blose connecting from 19 and SDSU’s Riefenrath nailing a 42-yarder to make the score 20-12 in favor of the Jackrabbits.

Youngstown State ran a fake punt toward the end of the third quarter.  YSU Punter, Nick Liste, ran 12 yards to pick up a big YSU first down as Louie Matsakis digs into the special teams grab bag.  The Penguins ended up punting for real three plays later as they failed to get any deeper into Jackrabbit territory.  When the Jacks got the ball back, Minett lined up in a Wildcat formation and took the snap 42 yards to put SDSU inside YSU’s 10-yard line at the end of the third quarter.  After the play, Minett again exited the game and was attended to by trainers for an apparent shoulder problem.  Minett had 19 carries for 164 yards to this point, the first back the Penguins have faced this season to gain more than 100 yards on the ground.

Reifenrath again connected to push the lead to 23-12, this field goal coming from 25 yards out at the 14:56 mark of the final quarter. When YSU punted, Minett again came out in the Wildcat to continue giving the YSU Defense fits.  On a third-and nineteen the Penguins blew a coverage and O’Brien threw a slant to Aaron Rollin to the middle of the field where there was nobody within ten yards.  With the extra point, the Jackrabbits took a 30-12 lead on the 41-yard strike.

Down 18 with about nine minutes left in the game, YSU went into hurry-up mode.  Ely Ducatel hauled in a Hess pass for a 15-yard YSU TD to pull the Penguins to 30-18.  Hess snuck in for a successful two-point conversion to cut the lead to ten with 5:34 remaining in the game.

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After the game, Wolford made no excuses.  ”We’re not ready to win.  We don’t execute things.  We signal things in and our guys turn their heads before they get the whole signal.  We need to keep working to get better, it’s hard to say something positive.  They like to eat and lift weights like Youngstown State used to, there is no candy coating it, they kicked our ass.”

Jamaine Cook led the penguin rushing attack with 18 carries for 78 yards.  Kurt Hess finished 26-46 passing for 263 yards, and Dominique Barnes caught ten balls for 110 yards and a TD.  Ely Ducatel played a bigger role also scoring a touchdown and catching five passes for 70 yards in his best game.  John Sasson and Donald D’Alesio both finished the game with ten tackles.

South Dakota State was paced by Kyle Minett. Minett ended the game with 236 all-purpose yards (185 rushing, 51 receiving).  Thomas O’Brien was 14-25 for 283 yards.

YSU returns to Stambaugh Stadium for Homecoming next week against Northern Iowa, a team they have lost nine in a row against.  Call the YSU ticket offices and grab a seat for all of the festivities Homecoming Week has to offer!

The NFL’s Fluffy New Rules On Hitting

James Harrison is many things.  Loudmouth, All-Pro, Egomaniac, Super Bowl Hero, Steeler.  The one thing that Harrison should not be called is a cheap shot artist.  Shame on the NFL for making Harrison the reason for hiked up fines and suspensions for supposed “cheap shots”. 

The NFL is messing up here.  I have heard all of the arguments in the past six days.  The athletes are so much better these days (so is the equipment).  If an NFL player is so much faster than 40 years ago when a helmet looked like a deflated ball, then it would be more difficult to deliver a cheap shot intentionally.  Granted, there have been blatent cheap shots over the years, but how far is the league going to go to protect players and take the barbaric rawness that fans have come to love?

In fairness to Harrison, if he were trying to permanently injure Josh Cribbs, he must be faster than he showed returning a fumble in a Super Bowl a couple of years ago.  Cribbs is hard to just tackle.  How many times have you seen the Browns best weapon juke and make a defender dive and look stupid.  For Harrison to be able to pinpoint Cribbs’ earhole, and deliver a perfect shot with malice is too hard to do.  Who makes the decision on what is malicious and what is clean? 

I’m upset with the new mindset.  I joked a few years back about how the quarterbacks of the NFL would soon be wearing white pinneys and flags.  If you accidentally hit one of them, you will be ejected from the NFL and forced to play arena football in Canada.  Ah, if only Vince McMahon would reactivate the XFL and encourage good hitting… 

YSU Football Profiles: Jamaine Cook

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Jamaine Cook is probably the quietest and most humble YSU Football Player I have ever interviewed.  He doesn’t like to talk about himself too much, is quick to praise members of his team, and takes the politically correct answer in the shortest form that he can present it.  The introverted running back speaks loudly with the ball in his hands.  Through seven games, Cook leads the Penguins rushing game with 781 yards on 133 carries.  He will probably top the 1,000 yard mark for his career at YSU this weekend, and he is just a sophomore.

Paneech:  What is the mindset of this team following three close heartbreaking losses?

Cook:  We have to get a win this week.  We have goals and if we want to maintain our goals and reach them we have to win this game.

Paneech:  Your coaches have chosen to employ a rotation to keep fresh legs on the field.  When you are feeling it, is it  tough to come out of the game?  What is your favorite play?

Cook:  I love the rotation and I think it helps us a lot.  It keeps all of the backs fresh and I don’t have a problem sharing the reps.  It is a good way to spread the love.  My favorite play is 28 or 29 outside zone.  It is a running play to the outside.

Paneech:  To many, it is amazing that this team only uses 53 of 63 scholarships and have so many freshman and sophomores involved in the grand scheme of things. 

Cook:  We are optimistic about the future, but right now we are way more worried about finishing this year off strong.  We can worry about next year when the time comes.  At this point we are still keeping our hopes alive for making the playoffs. 

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Paneech:  You come from Cleveland, and a big family.  How many siblings do you have?

Cook:  I have four sisters and two brothers.  I have a sister that is 21, then me, then a brother who is 17, twin sisters that are 13, another sister who is 11, and a little brother who is four.  My oldest sister is in college working to become a nurse, so the twins are obviously looking up and saying, yeah, that’s my brother playing football (laughs).

Paneech:  Since you are from Cleveland, are you a Browns and Cavs fan? 

Cook:  Yes, I am a Browns fan, and I hate the Steelers.  I don’t know why the Browns can’t ever put it all together, but I keep my faith in them and just hope that they can get a win from week-to-week.  As far as the Cavs go, when Miami comes to Cleveland, I want to see the Cavs shut down LeBron because he left.  He should not have left, so he deserves a loss when he comes here.

Paneech:  Who is the NFL running back that you want to copy both on and off the field?

Cook:  There is really no one right now, but I can say that Walter Payton is my favorite running back.  He ran with an unbelievable amount of heart and passion, that is the way I want to run every time I am on the field.

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One Word Answers

Favorite Soft Drink:  Gatorade.

Favorite Fast Food:  Burger King!  Double Stacker, Two Rodeo Burgers and a Medium Fry.

Favorite TV Show:  ESPN Sportscenter.

Favorite Video Game:  Madden 2010.

Favorite Pro Wrestler:  Brock Lesnar.

What’s Easier, The Dentist or The Doctor?  :  The Doctor.

How Many Times Do You Shave In A Month?   Two to Three times to look up to par.

Best Movie Ever Made?  300.

Desperate Housewives or Dancing With The Stars?  Dancing With The Stars.

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Youngstown State At South Dakota State: Game Preview

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Youngstown State University currently stands at 3-4 overall and 1-3 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.  However, this predominantly young group of Penguins could well be 6-1 and undefeated in the conference.  There are about ten total minutes of game time (all in the second half) that have doomed YSU this season.  South Dakota State (2-4, 2-2) will host the Penguins for a 3 p.m. kickoff this Saturday. 

The two teams seem to be headed in different directions, find their strengths in different halves, and YSU Coach Eric Wolford calls the 2010 Jackrabbits, “the best team I have seen on film this season.”  SDSU had a rocky start to the season with four consecutive losses.  One of those losses was to Nebraska.  Since the 0-4 start the Jackrabbits have racked up victories against Southern Illinois (in Carbondale) by a score of 31-10, and the week before beat Western Illinois 33-29.

South Dakota State holds a 6-5 advantage in the head-to-head matchups against YSU.  Last season the teams did battle in Youngstown with the Jackrabbits pulling off the win, 17-3.  South Dakota State also lashed the Penguins 40-7 in 2008 at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium in Brookings, SD.  The Penguins are 0-3 on the road this season but have not had trouble scoring.  Last week in the loss at Western Illinois, Youngstown State tied the school record with 32 first downs and put up more than 500 yards of total offense for the second time this season.

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In order for Youngstown State to have a shot at winning this road game, they must stop Kyle Minett (above).  Minett entered the 2010 season with 3,069 career rushing yards.  Last season he rushed for 1,304 yards and scored 16 TD’s.  Sophomore Thomas O’Brien has 12 starts under his belt.  South Dakota State is undefeated when O’Brien does not get picked off (5-0).  Tyrel Kool has been the favorite target of O’Brien through the air.  Expect Minett to get about 30 carries.  If Youngstown State’s run defense can shut him down, the Jackrabbits may be forced to pass. 

Defensively, Corey Jeske and Derek Domino are the two biggest impact players.  Domino is a 6-3, 225 lb. linebacker that gets downhill fast for someone his size.  Jeske is a 6-0 strong safety who finished the Western Illinois game with 17 tackles.

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Offensively, Youngstown State needs to stick to their gameplan, it has been working all season.  In the conference games the Penguins have averaged over 30 points per game but have lost three of them.  The rotation of running backs that was three seems to be down to two.  Jamaine Cook leads the team in rushing with 781 yards on 133 carries.  Adaris Bellamy is coming off of a three touchdown performance.  Dominique Barnes needs one catch to become the Youngstown State all-time leader for consecutive games with a catch (31).  Teams know Barnes will get the ball sooner or later and when he does, anything can happen. 

The achiles heel for YSU has been finishing.  It can’t all be put on the defense because the offense has ended the last couple of games failing conversions.  However, Rick Kravitz has had some really bad luck the last three weeks.  Blitzing and getting burned, sitting back a bit and getting run through, and failing to stop virtually anyone with less than two minutes to go in a game, the Penguins need to treat closing situations with kid gloves.  This defense is loaded with talent.  Brandian Ross is one of the best to ever play in the defensive backfield and Torrance Nicholson showed last week why he is a co-captain.  The rest of the defense has played, well, unpredictably.  Consistency will come sooner than later and I expect the defense to really finish strong this season.

Penguin Coach Eric Wolford has reason to remain optimistic.  “We had a good week of practice, we are enthusiastic and flying around, even having fun.  We sure don’t practice like a 3-4 team and these kids still believe.  I think football is fun, you should enjoy being around your kids and at the same time you must be able to push them, and that is what we emphasize.  We can still finish third, maybe even second in the conference and we won’t quit.”

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YSU Football Profiles: Kurt Hess

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Kurt Hess is one poised young man.  As Hess approached me to do this interview, he rubbed the stitches under his chin and looked at his fingers for traces of blood.  The finger he used to check was on his right hand because most of his left hand was bandaged up too, and the illusion of blood on the bandaged hand could come from either cut, leaving him confused as to where he actually may have been bleeding from.  It is unrehearsed, rational thinking that sometimes makes people special.  Coach Wolford has said on a couple of different occasions this season that adversity is the true test of a player.  Those who bounce back from it are the strongest.  This is a pretty strong redshirt freshman.

Paneech:  Tell the infamous story about quarterback camp in Toledo a few years back.

Hess:   I went to a camp at Toledo University for quarterbacks.  I was going into my sophomore year of high school and was just hoping to learn more so I could get some playing time that year.  Toledo was showing off this marquee quarterback at the camp.  His name was Brandon Summers.  One of the people I got to meet at the camp was Marc Kanetsky, who was from the Youngstown area and we got to be friends through camp.  Our fathers talked and ironically, he and I are both here and Brandon Summers transferred here from Toledo and played quarterback here last year.  (How is that for a great “Small World” story?)

Paneech:  The season has been somewhat of a rollercoaster ride, how much pressure is on you?

Hess:  We are still confident as a team.  There has been absolutely no finger pointing or blaming anyone, it is a testament to just how strong of a group we are.  It is really like a big family, we all care greatly for one another.  I can only keep trying to improve and do things that this team needs me to do to win moving forward.

Paneech:  How are you adapting to Youngstown?

Hess:  Well, I grew up in Dayton and it is very similar to Youngstown, they are both cities that work very hard.  It seems like Youngstown gets a little bit more snow, I remember last year after I was here on a visit, Youngstown got a couple of feet, it was suprisingly different than Dayton.

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Paneech:  The general football philosophy is that a team has to be able to run before they can pass.  If an opponent senses you are going to run and put eight men in the box, what do you think of?

Hess:  (laughs)  I pretty much salivate.  I get excited to know that a team is going to try to cover the talented wide receivers that we have in man. 

Paneech:  I watch Coach Montgomery and Marc Kanetsky signal stuff into you.  I get confused.  However, can the other teams catch on by picking off our signs?

Hess:  We don’t keep the signs the same, they change frequently.  Everybody is looking for a part of what is being flashed in.

Paneech:  Who is the best NFL Quarterback and why?

Hess:  Most people would probably say Peyton Manning or Drew Brees, and it is tough to argue with that.  Personally, I think Carson Palmer is the best quarterback in the NFL even though he is struggling a bit this season, he has a gun and is really smart about what he does with the ball.  I grew up a Bengals fan, so that might affect my choice a little.

Paneech:  What are the best and the worst parts of YSU so far?

Hess:  The college is outstanding.  This is a great place to go to school and the people here are great too.  The town is really into their football and the people make it a very family oriented environment.  So far, there isn’t anything that I don’t like about Youngstown. 

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One Word Answers

Favorite Color:   Blue.

Worst Habit:  Biting My Nails.

Dancing With The Stars or Desperate Housewives?  Desperate Housewives.

Favorite Sport Other Than FB:    Basketball, NBA and NCAA both.

Best Video Game Ever:  Sonic The Hedgehog on Sega Genesis.

Favorite Band:  Journey.  (Note:  Hess was not born when Infinity was released.)

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YSU Loses Third Consecutive Game On Late TD, 40-38, to Western Illinois

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Youngstown State University headed off for Macomb winless on the road (0-2) this season.  Western Illinois entered Saturday perfect at home and statistically smashing any team that came near Hanson Field. In the end, nothing changed. YSU still could not win on the road, Western Illinois still was undefeated at home, and YSU still couldn’t hold a lead with less than two minutes left, losing this one, 40-38.

Youngstown State got on the scoreboard first when Stephen Blose booted a 35-yard field goal.  The drive ate up 65 yards and took up 3:29.

Western Illinois roared back when Matt Barr orchestrated a perfect drive leading the Leathernecks down the field and hooking up with Terriun Crump for a 22-yard touchdown.  The Leathernecks only needed 1:23 to go 74 yards and to claim the lead at 7-3.

Not to be outdone, Kurt Hess moved the Penguins right back into the end zone to allow YSU to reclaim the lead at 14-10.  Hess and the offense enjoyed being in Leatherneck territory most of the first half.  The great field position on this particular drive can be credited to the Penguin defense.  After going for a touchdown inside Western Illinois’ 2-yard line unsuccessfully, the Penguin defense got stingy and forced WIU to punt after running three plays, setting up Hess and the offense in great shape.

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Western again reclaimed the lead when Barr found one of his favorite targets, Lito Senatus, on a second-and-eight for a 21-yard touchdown.  The dual-threat capabilities of Barr shined through on the drive as he both passed and ran.  With 12:07 left in the first half, Western Illinois held a 14-10 lead.

Youngstown State would score the next 14 points on a pair of Adaris Bellamy runs (top photo, courtesy Ron Stevens and YSUSports.com).  With 7:24 left in the half, Bellamy plunged in from one yard out giving the Penguins a 17-14 lead.  Bellamy again scored with 2:16 remaining in the half, this time from three yards away to increase the YSU lead to 24-14.  YSU’s defense held off the Leathernecks and the time elapsed ending the first half with Youngstown State ahead, 24-14.

In the second half, Western Illinois put together their own 14 unanswered point run to reclaim the lead.  In the third quarter, Western Illinois exposed the YSU defense, much like the last two opponents.  With 11:23 left in the third quarter, Barr snuck in from three yards out to make it 24-21.  A few minutes later at the 3:30 mark, Barr again plunged in to give WIU their first lead of the second half, this time from five yards away.

YSU found a way, again to reclaim the lead.  Bellamy scored his third touchdown of the game, this one a two-yard squeaker.  Blose’s extra-point attempt was true and YSU had a 31-28 lead after three quarters.

In the fourth quarter, Caulton Ray gave the Leathernecks the lead back when he scooted into the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown.  Charlie Jouett missed the extra point, so Western held a 34-31 lead.

YSU reclaimed the lead with a solid drive aided by a helmet-to-helmet hit on Kurt Hess to keep the drive going.  With 5:27 left in the game, Jamaine Cook sprinted into the end zone to put the Penguins ahead 38-34.

In the nailbiter, Western Illinois went 80 yards in no time at all to take the lead.  Jouett missed his second consecutive extra point to make it 40-38 in favor of the Leathernecks.  Barr found Senatus again, this time from 17 yards out to put YSU in another disastrous predicament of blowing a lead with less than two minutes to go in a game.

YSU got the ball back with a little less than a minute to go.  Hess got sacked and was lucky to get the ball back.  On 4th and 2 yards to go, the Penguins failed to convert an out pattern, Hess threw a great pass, but it was dropped.  WIU took over on downs and ran the clock out.  The Penguins lose their third in a row, third consecutive on the road, and are still trying to learn how to win.

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Wolford commented on the loss and not being able to hold a lead.  “I don’t know what to say.  I really don’t know what to say.” The poor officiating continued this week.  On the last WIU scoring play, a flag was thrown but later picked up.  Wolford was asked about the conversation he had with the ref about the disregarded foul. “We got homered.”

To reflect back to the Jim Tressel glory days at YSU, the Penguins were not blowing anyone out, they were winning games in the last couple of minutes.  That is what made those teams so special, they could make the plays to win.  This team is soooo  special, the record would not do the talent any justice.  Big tip of the cap to Torrance Nicholson who played like a man possessed tonight.  Nicholson was everywhere, all game long.

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Phantoms Open Successfully At Home, 3-2, Over Defending Champion Green Bay

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After the unpredictability of the 2009-10 season filled with coaching changes, losing streaks, and the valid excuse of being a new team, Coach Curtis Carr is demanding stability.  Defending Champion Green Bay came into town to play the role of bad guy in front of a crowded Covelli Centre audience.

The Phantoms jumped out to a 1-0 lead when Ryan Belonger connected unassisted at the 3:57 mark of the first period.  For Belonger, it was the second goal on the very young season.

The Phantoms added to their lead when Ty Loney (pictured) connected for his third goal of the season jumping the Youngstown lead to 2-0.  Jiri Sekac picked up an assist on the goal that came just 1:01 into the second period.

Green Bay cut the lead in half  when Robert Francis snuck one past Phantoms Goaltender, Matt O’Connor (below).  Francis beat O’Connor at the 8:16 mark of the second period and received an assist from Jean-Paul LaFontaine.

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The Phantoms hoisted their lead to 3-1  with 13:49 left in the game.  Quinn Smith tallied his first-ever USHL goal for the Phantoms.

Green Bay made a late push and cut the lead to 3-2 late in the final period.  William Kessel found twine after taking a feed from Austin Czarnik with 4:32 left in the game.

With the win, the Phantoms improved to 4-1 on the still new season, the Gamblers dropped to 2-2-1.  These two teams will hook it up again on Sunday with a rare 5 p.m. start.

After the game Curtis Carr talked about the advantage of having back guys with some experience to start a season.  ”There is no doubt, it is very beneficial to not only have guys back with experience, but also guys who have good character and have played together.  The only thing I saw that we need to work on is to come out looser.  We came out sluggish and tight because of the jitters and pressure of playing Green Bay, last year’s champion.”