Archive for October, 2011

Jake Giuriceo, Part 2: A Guide To ‘The Bull’

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As I sat at a Perkins Restaurant with Jake Giuriceo and his manager, Joe Corvino, the different phases and a progression of expectations were pretty well outlined to me by both men.  As your career as a boxer grows, the rounds you fight increases.  As you train and master skills, you work hard to develop new tactics to remain unpredictable.  Giuriceo has a unique mindset, very much against the typical athletic stereotype.  He is pretty quiet, but talks when you get him going a little.  He has very strong beliefs and holds sacred his religious values – a rare mix.

Paneech: I said earlier that the mix of boxing and religion could seem barbaric to some, which you quoted a passage in the Bible to counter with.  Do your Christian acquaintances come to the fights?

Giuriceo: Oh yeah.  They are very supportive and a lot of them do come to the fights.  My pastor comes to the fights.  We group up in the locker room and pray before the fight.  I can’t say that everybody from my church comes because I am not that close with everyone that goes, but there are quite a few people from that avenue who support me when I fight.  As far as praying with people that I work out with goes, there are a few guys at the gym – Dunner, Big Shawn – we talk a lot.

Paneech: Do you feel like you could be an ambassador to spread the message you believe so strongly in?

Giuriceo:  I believe that God called me to boxing. I also believe that I shine the light of Jesus on everything that I do and by winning these fights, I believe that I am doing exactly that, being somewhat of an ambassador.  I would rather see somebody go to heaven than me winning a fight, it’s definitely more important.  That doesn’t mean that I am not going to work as hard, or go lose a fight so somebody might get to heaven, it just means that you never want to see anyone die and go to hell.  You don’t want to see that.  At the end of Matthew, you have the great commission, we are told to spread the word of Christ.  So many things have been changed.  I’m not a guy that could stand in front of a crowd and give a sermon, that’s not me.  This is the way I do it.

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Paneech: Have you ever thought about adding a religious side note to your name.  Something like “Sugar” Ray Robinson… like Jake “The Apostle” Giuriceo?

Giuriceo: (laughs)  No, I haven’t thought of doing anything like that.  One thing I am doing though is on my next t-shirt, on the back I want them to say ‘Blood, Sweat, and Prayers’, because I believe that is everything that I put into this.

Paneech: You have a unique situation in your training.  You will go to California and work with Frank Duarte (above) for about five weeks, and then when you come home, you work with Keith Burnside.  How do you sort through what two different trainers tell you and decide what is best for Jake?

Giuriceo: That is actually a pretty easy question.  Whoever is my lead trainer at the time is who I listen to.  For the first nine fights, I worked very good with Keith and listened to everything that he told me to do.  When I went to California and started working with Frankie, for the last four fights, I listen to Frank.  I am out there for five weeks with him.  If Keith and Frank have a disagreement on something, we get them together and try to work it out.  Ultimately though, I am working more with Frank now, so I have to listen to what he is telling me to do.  I listen to the head trainer who is training me for my next fight, and the last four, it has been Frankie.

Paneech: How has Keith reacted to having to take a backseat to Frank with the current arrangement?

Giuriceo: The great thing about our team, is that we are actually a team.  We want to do everything together.  I don’t really hear any complaining from Keith or Frank.  They keep it between themselves and Joe [Corvino] and keep it away from me.  We work together, and if it is a situation that they need my input, they will pull me in and ask me what I think.  Realistically, Keith is one of the guys that pushed me to go to California.  He was honest and up front with me and told me there was only so far he was going to be able to take me.  Keith is a great guy, like a father-son type relationship, and they all really want the best for me.  Anything he can do to be there for me he does.  People say things to get into his head.  Sometimes it gets hard because Keith and Frankie miscommunicate.  Sometimes Frankie doesn’t answer the phone, sometimes Keith never calls.  It goes both ways, maybe a little power trip on both ends.

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Paneech: Joe Corvino is someone who is very involved in your career.  You have told me that he is a good guy and that he has done great things for you.  Expand on his role in your betterment.

Giuriceo: Joe is my boxing manager/promoter/father/public relations guy (laughs) – he really does everything.  There isn’t anything that Joe does not do.  We have built a solid relationship because of boxing.  He runs his business like a family, which is why he is in the lead role of my team.  When I go to California, he foots the bill or I wouldn’t eat over there.  He takes care of me, I work part time for him.  It is hard to find a job where you can leave for months at a time and just come back, he took care of that for me.  He helps me in all aspects and I love him.

Paneech: How supportive are your family, friends, future wife, future in-laws, and everyone else?  It’s nice when you are winning, but those people will be there for you in the end.  How supportive are they as you ascend?

Giuriceo: My family is pretty small.  There is really only my mom, two brothers, and an uncle.  I have a few aunts that are here and there, but they all love me and are very supportive, and it is nice to know they will always be there, no matter what happens.  The family that I am marrying into is absolutely awesome.  My fiance is very family-oriented.  We go to those birthday parties and there are twenty or thirty people there.  They have embraced me and love me as long as I treat Jackie right.  My closest friends are just people I share my Faith with.  The close friends I had growing up, I only associate with about three or four of them.  The whole big group is very supportive though.

Paneech: Joe said maybe doing some stuff out of town to increase exposure, maybe grab some television time.  What is on the recent agenda?

Giuriceo: My next fight is on November 19 and will be for a UBO Lightweight Title.  It is a vacant title that we will be fighting for over at St. Lucy’s in Campbell.  The card is called November Fury and is being put on by Mike Cefalde and Lights Out Promotions.  It is to be the biggest fight of my career,so far.

That career can extend quite a ways if Team Giuriceo can start to grab that bigger spotlight.  Win or lose, Giuriceo has the heart and spirit of any athlete I have ever interviewed.  He is someone that large circle of friends and relatives can be proud of for his beliefs, his Faith, and his never say stop work ethic.

There will be a complete preview for the November 19 card here next week.

Phantoms Post 5-2 Win Behind Margonari’s Hat Trick

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If Dylan Margonari had it his way, the Youngstown Phantoms might never leave Nebraska. After recording his first goal of the season Friday night against Tri-City, the third-year center from Greensburg, Pa., netted three goals to lead the Phantoms (6-2-0) to a 5-2 victory over the Omaha Lancers (4-3-1).

“It must be something in the air out here,” Margonari said.

After falling behind 2-0, the Phantoms – buoyed by a four-goal second period – scored five unanswered goals to record their first win over Omaha in the franchise’s three seasons. Sean Romeo got the start in net for the second straight night and turned away 17 of 19 shots to secure the sweep on their Nebraska road trip.

“We came out here saying nothing less than four points would be accepted,” Head Coach Anthony Noreen said. “We saw some adversity last night and we saw even more tonight, but the guys just kept battling.”

Margonari got the Phantoms on the board 1:53 into the second period with a quick snap shot from the slot to beat Lancers goaltender Thatcher Demko, who was making his first career United States Hockey League Start.

“Coach told us that it was a new goalie in net and to just throw pucks on him,” Margonari said. “That’s what I did and the snow ball just started rolling from there.”

Todd Koritzinsky tied it up for the Phantoms a little more than four minutes later. The first-year winger out of Middleton, Wis., got the puck from Richard Zehnal on the right wall, weaved through traffic and sent a back-hand five-hole for his second of the season.

“Todd is going to have a bright future with the Phantoms both this year and down the road,” Noreen said. “Tonight when we called his number, there was no doubt he was going to come through and he did.”

JT Stenglein gave the Phantoms their first lead of the night at the 10:59 mark in the second when he beat Demko with a snap shot from top of the left circle. With 6:47 left in the period, Margonari struck again, digging the puck from under Demko and muscling it past the goal line to give the Phantoms a 4-2 lead heading into the third period.

Just 28 seconds into the third, Margonari completed his hat trick, beating Demko with a glove-side wrist shot.

“[Margonari] could go an entire season without scoring a goal, an assist or any points at all and he could still be our MVP,” Noreen said. “He does everything the right way… and the guys feed off his energy.

YSU Looks Like They Are Jelling At Just The Right Time In 56-14 Win Over Western Illinois

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In recent weeks, Eric Wolford has defended his young team through the bad times, while also assuring everyone that the season was not over and that this team was going to get better, contend, and live up to the standard of winning championships. Youngstown State took another big step or two in the right direction by blasting Western Illinois, 56-14.  The Homecoming win puts the Penguins in a position to climb back into the polls with some momentum as they prepare for Northern Iowa.

“Good day for all of the Penguins”, said Coach Eric Wolford.  ” We are getting people to focus on a consistent basis.  We are a stong running team, so there is some opportunity for play-action passes.  We are only a year and a half into this thing.”

“This football team is a work in progress, and when we focus, we can do it.  It was exciting to see four quarters of football and play all three phases of the game this year.  If we are going to make a run, we have to do it now.”

A pattern had developed a few weeks into the season where the offense was scoring a lot of points, but the defense had given up more than the offense could produce a couple of times.  This young defense is really turning the corner and the offense has somehow gotten even better than they were. The Penguins dominated the Leathernecks on both sides of the ball, playing their most consistent football of the season.  The score does not reflect the parity of a tough Missouri Valley Football Conference where teams can jump up and beat the other on any given week.

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Youngstown State struck early and often in the first half.  On the first play from scrimmage, Kurt Hess threw a perfect deep ball to Christian Bryan on a skinny post route.  Bryan was a good ten yards behind the defense and the perfect pass from Hess, which traveled about 40 yards before landing in Bryan’s arms, yielded the opening score in a real hurry.  Hess had two more touchdowns in the opening half, a 69-yarder to Jelani Berassa (above) to end the first quarter, and a 17-yard strike to Kevin Watts.  Hess also ran for a score and added another TD pass in the second half to round out his shortened day.

Hess reflected on the win.  ”It starts in the trenches, and our offensive line performed very well today.  The defense created some turnovers and offensively, we appreciate that, and we were not going to let ourselves fail to take advantage of those situations.”

Jamaine Cook always punches his card and goes to work for Shane Montgomery‘s high powered offense.  Cook broke the 1,000-yard barrier in the first half.  He also scored the two first half touchdowns to round out the scoring as the Penguins took a 42-0 lead into the locker room.  Just in the first half, Cook had 111 yards on 16 rushes, he also caught a couple of passes for 19 yards.  Hess and Cook, two captains, have produced week in and week out for Youngstown State.

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Defensively, the Penguins were chaotic and disruptive and never allowed the Leathernecks to get into a rhythm, keeping them off of the scoreboard until there was 5:21 left in the third quarter.  Aronde Stanton (above), played a solid game at noseman for the second week in a row.  Stanton had an interception to set up a Penguin score in the second quarter.  The entire defense just looked good.  The secondary created chances for the line to pressure WIU quarterback, Josh Hudson, all day.  In return, the line did a pretty solid job against the run and did all of the little things right.

“When we get turnovers like that, it creates chances for our offense”, remarked Daniel Stewart after the game.  ”We are starting to finish games and are consistently getting better.  We have a big challenge ahead of us next week.”

YSU, which has not lost at home to Western Illinois since 2003, scored more than 28 points for the seventh consecutive game.  The win also marked a halt to losing Homecoming games.  Prior to this victory, the Penguins had lost five straight Homecoming contests, but this win boosts their all-time record to 48-21-1 on such games.

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Hess, who only went one drive into the second half, finished the game 7-10 passing for 209 yards and three touchdowns.  He also ran one in.  Cook (above) finished with 111 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 17 rushes.  Bryan and Berassa only caught a ball each, both touchdowns, 70, and 69 yards respectively. Marc Kanetsky found Ely Ducatel for an 11-yard touchdown in the third quarter, a rare senior-to-senior hookup. Kintrell Disher also scored his first career touchdown as a Penguin. Daniel Stewart recorded five unassisted tackles, including one for a loss.

“All of the guys on defense have made significant improvement”, said Wolford.  ”A lot of times when you are a young person, you don’t understand the sense of urgency or focusing on ‘now’.  We have confidence that we can play with anyone on our schedule. Northern Iowa is a good football team, very well coached.”

The Penguins (5-3, 3-2) head west next week to take on Northern Iowa, the #2 FCS-ranked school going into this week.  The Penguins have not beaten Northern Iowa in their last ten meetings and look to bolster their playoff hopes with a big road win. Don’t be surprised to see YSU ranked this week in the new FCS poll.

Jack Loew Talks About Potentially Facing Life After Pavlik

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Nobody knows for sure what is going in the world of Kelly Pavlik these days. ESPN.com reported last week that Pavlik was going to make a geographical transition with a new support staff, a new trainer, and a new place to call home.  Pavlik’s trainer since he took up the sport, Jack Loew, scratches his head and can understand he might be facing life after Pavlik, but does not understand why the former champion, and someone he considers a son, would not sit and talk with him about his future plans.

“The last time I talked with Kelly, I was his trainer”, said Loew on Friday.  “If I am, I am, and if not, we have had a great run at it.  The only thing that upsets me is that I have done all I can do for the kid.  I can’t control what he does when he leaves the gym.  In 2007 and 2008, I was better than chocolate pudding and everybody loved me.  Because he went on a drinking binge and screwed up his own career should not reflect on me, and a lot of people are looking at it that way.”

Loew has some up-and-comers in the stable, including Dannie Williams, who has recently signed a deal with Dibella Productions and will be fighting on ESPN in January. I have said it before, and I will say it again, Jack Loew is not a one trick pony.  Yes, Kelly Pavlik was his in, his mealticket, and his primary focus for a long stretch. However, there is a Willie Nelson, a Popo Salinas, a Dannie Williams, and a full gym of talented kids who Loew can work with.

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“If Kelly decides to go with Robert Garcia or Freddie Roach, God Bless him, I wish him nothing but the very best”, said Loew.  “He is a great kid and has been loyal to me.  I made a ton of money with Kelly and I was smart with my money.  I knew there would be an end to the Pavlik Era sometime, unfortunately it ended a little too early.  If we are splitting up, I wish him the best, I really do.  Jack Loew is gonna be fine.”

“The thing that bothers me the most was I told him that if that is what is going to happen, I am fine with it if it comes from you.  If I have to read about it on the internet, that will piss me off a little bit.  He said he would call me Sunday when he got home, and obviously, he has not called me yet.  I just hope it doesn’t end on a bad note because we have had such a great relationship.  Alcohol has done some bad things to Kelly and I hope that it hasn’t hurt his respect for me that he can’t call me to let me know what is going on.”

Don’t misunderstand this article, if Pavlik leaves he may succeed again with someone else in his corner.  I think he would still have great support from Youngstown and will still represent himself as a Youngstown native.  In my opinion, Top Rank is playing their hand and telling Kelly he has to get out of Youngstown, albeit with Loew, or a new trainer, to resume his fighting schedule.  Pavlik himself has said that everything he does publicly is magnified because he is a public figure who is known nationally.  If he was drinking after the Edison Miranda fight, people were buying his drinks.  If he went to a bar after the Sergio Martinez fight, he had a problem.  Public perception and the strong arm of Bob Arum work hand-in-hand to export our champion?

I have made several efforts to contact Pavlik with no response.  Scour this website, it has been up for three years, and look for a negative viewpoint on Pavlik.  Good luck reading every article, fight preview, and summary, there are none.  Whatever you do champ, good luck and we will all be rooting for you.

YSU Soccer Team Outshoots Valpo, But Settles For Season-Ending Tie

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The Youngstown State women’s soccer team took 10 more shots than Valparaiso but had to settle for a 0-0 double-overtime tie on Friday afternoon at Stambaugh Stadium.

The Guins finish the 2011 season with a 3-10-4 overall record and an 0-5-3 mark in the Horizon League while Valparaiso moves to 8-6-4 overall and 4-2-2 in the league.

The Penguins outshot the Crusaders, 20-10, for the match, including a 15-3 difference after halftime.

Senior goalkeeper Nicole Kline posted four saves and recorded her second shutout of the season to finish her career with an exclamation point.

Senior Geneva Strelka and freshman Jade Flory each tallied five shots and three shots on goal while sophomore Cori Stark added four shots.

Valparaiso goalkeeper Kristen Manski posted seven saves and recorded her seventh shutout of the year.

Game Week: YSU (4-3, 2-2) vs Western Illinois (2-5, 1-3)

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There is a sign in the dark cement tunnel that empties onto the field from the Youngstown State locker room.  The sign is hanging on a cement column right in the middle of the ramp and doesn’t have many different connotations.  Last season was a prime example of why a young and talented team needs a subtle reminder sometimes. Western Illinois dealt Youngstown State a painful 40-38 defeat , winning the game in the last minute after the Penguins failed to convert a first down with the game seemingly in control. Times have changed.

For starters, the Leathernecks lost their two best players, QB Matt Barr, and LB Kyle Glazier.  Optimistically, the Leathernecks are in a rebuilding year at the money positions.  However, the Missouri Valley Football Conference has proven one thing over the past several years – that every conference game is an unpredictable war, and that nobody can take assume that they can win a game until it is officially over.

“There is so much parity in this league”, said YSU coach Eric Wolford.  “In most leagues, there is an upper echelon of very good teams, and there is another group of teams that fall below that standard.  There is no division in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, any team can win any week.  Every week in college football, there are teams that are expected to win and are double digit favorites.  They go out and don’t play well.”

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Kurt Hess (above) echoed the sentiment of his team on last year’s loss.  The sophomore QB said, “It was a very tough loss and it was very emotional, just like all of the other losses were.  We feel like we owe them something.”

The Penguins have gone all season without making a field goal attempt.  Wolford shared his feelings on the lack of three-point kicks.

“I don’t really care if we kick a field goal.  We work very hard on our red zone stuff.  I think everyone knows that seven is greater than three from kindergarten.  I would rather have seven.”

Hess, who is mature beyond his years, has been pretty effective this season, as has the entire offense, to the tune of 37.7 points per game. Jamaine Cook, barring injury or disaster, should crack the 1,000 yard mark in rushing against the Leathernecks, needing only 51 yards to do so.  Cook scored four touchdowns in the first half of last weeks game against Saint Francis.

Western Illinois (2-5, 1-3) lost last week, 31-17, at home to Missouri Valley State.  It was the first win in the conference for the Bears and if there was a silver lining to the outcome for the Leathernecks, it had to be the play of senior linebacker, Kevin Palermo, who recorded 14 tackles in the loss.  Palermo has 63 tackles on the season, 21 more than anyone else on the team.

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The Leathernecks have gotten decent numbers out of first-year quarterback Josh Hudson, who has thrown for 1,313 yards so far this season.  His favorite target is 6’3″ senior, Terriun Crump, who has 41 catches in 2011, more than double of the next closest Leatherneck receiver.  I spoke with Crump about using his experience against YSU’s freshman-dominant defense.

“Obviously, we want to find a way to take advantage.  Youngstown State must have confidence in all of those freshmen to put them on the field.  We start some freshmen too and they have performed for us.  I don’t think it matters if they are freshman or seniors.  Our key to victory is to win all three phases of the game – offense, defense, and special teams.  We’re a balanced team and can play with anyone when we get all three phases going.”

YSU has not lost to Western Illinois at home since 2003, and the Leathernecks are currently riding a five-game road losing streak.  The special Homecoming game will start at 1 p.m., and YSU will announce it’s 2011 Hall of Fame inductees at halftime. With a win, the Penguins continue to show marked improvement from last season, stay in the playoff hunt, and head off to Northern Iowa, and then North Dakota State.  First though, the goal is to take care of the business at hand, and that is focusing on defeating Western Illinois.

YSU Basketball Ticket Information

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Season tickets for the 2011-12 Youngstown State men’s and women’s basketball season are on sale now through Monday, Nov. 14, the YSU Athletics Ticket Office announced.

Fans can purchase reserved-seat season tickets through Penguin Club Membership at $140 or through the Penguin Package of $160, which includes all men’s and women’s games.  The ticket office also announced individual game tickets will go on sale Tuesday, Nov. 1.

Prices for individual reserved seats are $12 prior to game day and $14 on game day. General admission individual ticket prices are $8 prior to game day and $10 on game day.

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Groups of 20 or more can purchase general admission tickets for $4 for men’s basketball and $3 for women’s basketball.

Faculty and staff may purchase regular-season game tickets at half price with a valid Youngstown State University Faculty/Staff ID card. Discounted tickets must be purchased prior to game day.

YSU students can obtain a complimentary ticket with a valid YSU student ID.

YSU Men’s Basketball Picked To Finish Seventh In Horizon League

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Two-time defending national finalist Butler University was voted the preseason favorite to capture the 2011-12 Horizon League men’s basketball championship, marking the third straight season the Bulldogs were tabbed in the top spot in voting by the League’s coaches, media and sports information directors.  Youngstown State was picked seventh.

Each of the top four teams in the balloting received at least one first-place vote, with Cleveland State edgingMilwaukee for third in the poll. Valparaiso took fifth, just ahead of Green Bay. In seventh, Youngstown State matched its highest position in the poll since joining the Horizon League, while Wright State and Loyola were separated by 12 points in eighth and ninth, respectively. UIC rounded out the poll.

No respect.

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Coach Jerry Slocum seems unbothered by the preseason ranking and practices have been going well.  The team thrives on the selection, they can’t wait for the season to start.  Actions speak louder than words and Youngstown is in for a treat this season when they will get a glimpse of perhaps one of their best teams to hit the floor.

“Everyone grew up shooting and playing with the ball”, said Slocum.  ”It is a sign of maturity when a whole team steps up and says that they went to get better on defense.  I think the learning curve at the defensive end of the floor is a significant change.  We are stronger in the weight room, more experienced, and a little tougher mentally.”

“We are focusing on getting stops, I think we will score points, which has not always been the case in the past.”

Pientrantonio Loses To Undefeated Monoghan At Madison Square Garden

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Anthony Pientrantonio went to New York’s biggest venue to box, an accomplishment that few can put on their resume.  Madison Square Garden is the big leagues, and Pientrantonio saw his fight against Sean Monoghan as a big opportunity. Unfortunately, the Sharon, PA native could not pull off the upset and was defeated by TKO in the fifth round.

Monoghan (10-0) is a lot like John Duddy.  He is from Ireland, and is a good draw when fighting in New York.  Duddy was exposed by Billy Lyell before he got too big. Duddy has since retired at the age of 32 and owns a bar in New York now.

Pientrantonio (7-8) knew he was an underdog going in, but felt like he might be able to pull the unthinkable off, but no such luck.  Pietrantonio trains at the Southside Boxing Club under the watchful eye of Jack Loew and can take some punches, which makes a statement about Monoghan being a little better than Duddy when it all shakes out.

Lots of upcoming boxing stories including Jake Giuriceo‘s November 19th bout, Kelly Pavlik‘s rumored split from Jack Loew, a feature piece on Popo Salinas, and Jack Loew‘s night before Thanksgiving Show.

YSU Center, Mark Pratt, Named MVFC Offensive Lineman of The Week

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Youngstown State junior center Mark Pratt was named the Missouri Valley Football Conference’s Offensive Lineman of the Week, the league announced on Monday.

Pratt earned an overall grade of 90 percent for his efforts in the 49-23 win over Saint Francis (Pa.). He was named the team’s co-offensive player of the game allowing with tailback Jamaine Cook who rushed for four touchdowns.

Pratt played 46 snaps at center and had an assignment grade of 97% and a team-high technique grade of 84 percent. YSU rushed for 450 yards, had two tailbacks rush for more than 100 yards and amassed 646 yards of total offense in the win.

It marks the second time this season that YSU has had an Offensive Lineman of the Week selection. OG Chris Elkins received the honor following the Penguins’ win over Valparaiso.

YSU plays at home for the second consecutive week playing host to Western Illinois on Saturday. Kickoff for the contest is set for 1 p.m. It is the annual Homecoming/Hall-of-Fame contest. Tickets are available by calling (330) 941-1978.