Archive for September, 2012

Late Renouf Goal Rallies Phantoms Past Omaha, 5-3

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The Youngstown Phantoms kicked off their 2012-13 season Friday night against the Omaha Lancers.  Coming off of their first playoff appearance in franchise history, the Phantoms looked flat to start the game.  However, by the time the third period ended, they seemed unstoppable in posting a dramatic 5-3 come-from-behind win.  Daniel Renouf scored the game-winning goal with 2:21 left to boost the Phantoms into the win column.

“The puck just came loose and I just found a way to put it in”, said Renouf.  ”I kind of really fanned on it, I just got lucky.  Being tied for the lead in goals for the team will probably be the first time I will have bragging rights over those guys”

The outpouring of goals by defensemen in this game (three) is almost half of last years season total.

“The number one emphasis we made in the offseason was to get our defensemen involved more offensively”, said Phantoms Coach Anthony Noreen.  ”Last year, we may have had better defensive guys, but this year, our defensemen have have been scoring goals in the preseason and tonight.”

Omaha took an early 1-0 lead when Drew Melanson beat Phantoms goaltender Sean Romeo from close range.  The goal came 6:02 into the first period and Jake Randolph was credited with an assist.

In the second period, the Phantoms would tie the game.  With 10:57 left in the stanza, Luke Stork sucked the defense into the goal crease and flipped the puck back to Alfred Larsson who hit the twine for his first goal.  Lancer goalee Alex Lyon was too far out of the way to make the stop as a result of Stork’s charge.

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The Lancers would reclaim the lead later in the second frame.  With 5:18 left in the period, Tyler Hynes charged in with the puck from the left wing toward the crease.  Romeo could not see Hynes clearly because a defenseman was skating backwards, obstructing his line of sight.  When Hynes released the shot, it was too late for Romeo to react as he was beaten on the stick side.  Connor Chatham earned an assist on the goal that would give Omaha a 2-1 lead.

Through two periods, the Phantoms seemed to be getting stronger.  The big difference between the first and second periods seemed to be speed and spacing.  Too many times in the first period when the Phantoms had the puck in the Lancers zone, they seemed to be clustered up and in each others way.  After two periods, the Phantoms held a 26-21 advantage for shots on goal, but the Lancers held a 2-1 lead on the ones that went in.

“We had 20 shots in the second period”, noted Noreen.  ”It was more our style.  We thrive off of our physical play.  We were standing around a lot in the first period and with any home opener, you get nervous.  Even our older guys are young this year.”

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In the third period, the Phantoms wasted little time scoring a game-tying goal.  Austin Cangelosi, who was recently named a team co-captain, scored his first goal of the season.  The goal came just 17 seconds into the final period.  Cangelosi had a strong inaugural campaign for the Phantoms last season as he finished with 59 points (29 goals and 30 assists).  Todd Koritzinsky set Cangelosi up with a nice pass on Lyons glove side before Cangelosi unloaded.

“In the first half of the game, we came out flat”, expressed Cangelosi.  ”Our energy was  low.  We had energy in the second half of the game.  On the goal I scored, Todd [Kortizinsky] made a nice backhanded pass.  I think it went between two defenders legs and I was just sitting in front with nobody on me and I just whacked it home.”

With 7:45 left in the game, Phantoms defenseman Eric Sweetman made a pretty move to give the Phantoms the lead.  Sweetman had the puck on the right side at the blue line.  He proceeded to skate around a Lancer defender and beelined toward Lyons.  He unloaded a nice shot that got by Lyons and gave the Phantoms their first lead of the season.  Renouf and Cangelosi got assists on the goal.

Omaha swung back with 6:21 left to tie the game at three goals apiece.  Alex Rauter snuck one by Romeo to deflate the momentum of the Youngstown Phantoms.

With time running out, the Phantoms took the lead, 4-3, for good with 2:21 left in the game.  Renouf hit the post on the side that would let it deflect into the net.  Renouf took a pass from Cangelosi to beat Lyons from 15 feet.  Sam Anas also picked up an assist on the play.

The Phantoms would add an empty net goal.  Cangelosi took a lead pass toward an empty net and unselfishly fed Phantom teammate Ryan Lowney to close the scoring out.

A Few Shots Of The 49ers Practicing In The Youngstown Rain

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The San Francisco 49ers made ,what is becoming, an annual stop to Youngstown State University.  The Niners use YSU’s facilities as a go-between rather than fly back to the West Coast and then to New York the very next week.

The 49ers were upset by Minnesota last week, 24-13.  They will now travel to New York for this weekends matchup with the Jets.  Coach Harbaugh and QB Alex Smith (below) lead the charge on a 2012 season that has many predicting the 49ers to win the Super Bowl.  Off-season acquisition Randy Moss (above) is proving he still has a little gas left in the tank for the Niners.

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Smith (above) has spread the ball out this season to talented receivers like Moss, Tim Crabtree, Vernon Davis, Warren’s Mario Manningham, and Ted Ginn Jr.  So far, the Niners quarterback is 64-92 for 641 yards and 5 TDs.

Heckled and criticized as not being ‘the man’ to lead San Francisco to another championship, Smith likes having some weapons he can look for this season.  In the recent past, choices were very limited.  This offense will put up a big number more than once this season with a wider array of weapons for Smith to use.

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Youngstown State, off to a 4-0 start and ranked third in the latest FCS Polls, has a bye week, making the arrangements easier on everyone.  The Penguins practiced in the WATTS while the 49ers did most of their work on the turf of Stambaugh Stadium.

David Akers has gotten addicted to Handel’s Ice Cream.  In fact, several Niners have been spotted multiple days in line at the local homemade ice cream chain.  The charity work these folks do is above and beyond each time they visit the Mahoning Valley with trips to children’s hospitals and various other good deeds.

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The road to winning the NFC West may be a bit harder than last season for San Francisco.  Arizona has not lost yet and Seattle has the best defensive backs in the NFL.  Overall, San Francisco has the best team talent in the division and a return to the postseason is probable.

Why Nobody Does It Better Than Dana Balash And WFMJ

Growing up in Youngstown in the 80′s, the six minutes of sports on a Friday night at the end of a newscast seemed like robbery.  The talent was always good with people like Denny Liebert and Chuck Galeti to quickly read off some scores and show highlights from one or two games.  However, looking back, our generation was heavily cheated.

On a Friday night in 2012, this area has some of the best coverage of high school football, and if it doesn’t start by quarter after, then that network is more concerned about showing a storm developing in Cuba somewhere, or a story about how a lady gave birth to her fourth set of twins in six years.  I’ll take the beefed-up football coverage.

Joe Aulisio, Ryan Allison, Chad Krispinsky, and Shawn Jordan are all exceptional examples of folks who multitask and put their heart and soul into what they do.  Zach Humphries is a blooming natural, and I am really happy to see DJ Yokley catch some good breaks with ESPN3 this past week.  These guys would succeed in any market.

WFMJ has a stable of people who run like crazy every Friday and Saturday night.  It starts with Dana Balash, who has seen the six minute sportscasts evolve into twenty plus minutes on a Friday.  Mike Ackelson and Rob Decker fortify a kind of magic that is hard to duplicate.  You also have hustling videographers like Jeff Holenchick and Bob Meluch who fly from one stadium to the next.  When all of the components are combined you get this production every Friday night that goes beyond all standards.

I think Balash deserves credit for all of the above mentioned whether you like him or not.  He has been at it for 25 years and has made a lot of friends and contacts.  He definitely has the respect of his peers, the coaches and players he deals with daily, and  an everyday guy element that enhances his delivery.

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Paneech:  How has the Friday night stuff evolved into having to get that many highlights on television?

Balash:  We started in 1994 with our expanded sports coverage.  What I mean by expanded was that we went from six minutes to nine minutes.  In 1997, Arby’s came on board to be a sponsor and we were able to do about 17 games and the time slot became 15 minutes.  Two years ago, we took another step and expanded to 21 minutes.  We have seven crews out there filming enough to show 45 seconds to a minute of each game we can cover.

Paneech:  What kind of staff do you need to get all of this done each week?

Balash:  Mike [Ackelson] has been there numerous years and Rob [Decker] came on board a few years ago and both have done a good job learning this area.  It is not just us three, there are marketing people, engineers, videographers, and many others that you don’t see.  The three you do see, Rob, Mike, and myself, we are a small part of that.

Paneech:  Can what you have on Friday nights possibly evolve into more at some point, or is it at the maximum now?

Balash:  People want to know who won, they want to see the cheerleaders and the band.  Some people opt to start coverage with high school football instead of news, which I was against.  We get 21 minutes out of 25, if we can go further, I am not sure what that would be except to take the whole show.  There is still a part of the viewing audience that wants to see the events of the day, get the weather, and sports are third.  That is the way it should be.  A couple of weeks ago, the Vice President came to Lordstown on a Friday.  That is absolutely more important than football.  So where can we go?  If we could, I guess my wish would be to cover every local school that plays on Friday night.

Paneech:  As far as the actual football goes, is this a down year for high school football in this area?

Balash:  Overall, there are a lot of great players.  On the other hand, I am not sure we have that many great teams.  Do we have a few teams that can make a run?  Absolutely.  Since 2002, we have had a team play in Week 15 every single year.

Paneech:  What sort of criticism have you had to deal with?

Balash:  In 1994, some of the soccer people were upset because we expanded coverage  of high school football.  They wanted us to do that for soccer.  That comes down to sponsorships and sales.  We also sometimes get criticized for not covering a certain school or missing a story.  I’m the first to admit that I do not know everything about sports.  I have come to rely heavily on people to call us and let us know prior to something happening.  By giving us the opportunity to be there for a players 1,000th point, we can be there.  We cannot recreate a milestone, so I wish we had better communication not to miss big events and we can be there.

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Paneech:  How is the relationship with YSU?  The coaches, the administration, and the student-athletes.

Balash:  Even at the high school level, if the coaches or administration tip us off, we better know where to be.  The sports information department at Youngstown State is one of the best that I have ever dealt with.  These guys keep you notified as much as they possibly can.  There are some things they can’t tell you, but it is understood.  The relationship that I have on and off the court with the coaches at YSU is the best it has ever been.  Obviously, there are times when we have to ask the hard questions.  Coach Wolford has turned things around.  Coach Boldon has the women’s basketball program moving in the right direction.  The men’s basketball team is showing how good they can be.  Coach Slocum had a couple of tough years but I think he now has the players he needs to be successful.  I feel as though I can now call these coaches on my own, not that I do that a lot, but am comfortable when I have to.  It has never been better, and winning helps.

Paneech:  How much longer can you do this?

Balash:  I know I am on the backside of my career.  I have been doing this for the 28 years that I have been with the same company.  I am home.  I have had opportunities to move out of the area.  There is no better area to me than here.  With high school football, all of the other high school athletics, Youngstown State and other universities, Cleveland and Pittsburgh are both an hour away, and you have Ohio State too, it is a sports mecca.  If I can do another twenty years I would be happy.  That is a decision that the company will have to make.  Because we are locally owned, it is very huge, and the owners know what we do.

So Dana Balash has been at it awhile.  He is someone people that have never met feel as though they know.  In fact, one woman, who passed away about three years ago in Niles, mentioned Balash in her obituary.  The article said that the deceased woman loved watching Dana Balash do his sports.  Balash never met the woman, but keeps a copy of the obituary on his desk.  When he has a tough day, he can look at that to put things into perspective.

Kurt Hess Earns MVFC Offensive Player Of The Week Honors

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Youngstown State junior quarterback Kurt Hess was recognized as the Missouri Valley Football Conference’s Offensive Player of the Week for his performance in the Penguins’ 42-35 win over UNI on Saturday.

Hess completed 20-of-28 passes for 290 yards and four touchdowns in the Penguins’ come-from-behind win over the Panthers. It was YSU’s first win over UNI since 2000.

“I think last year I wouldn’t have made some of the plays I did Saturday”, said Hess.  ”I would have probably forced something.  I have developed a lot of trust in my teammates and know where they are going to be in almost any situation and it is paying off this season.”

Hess had two first-half touchdown passes and added two in the second half, including the game-winner with 1:50 left. In the first half, he had scoring throws of 25 and 38 yards. In the second half, he threw a 43-yarder and found Christian Bryan on a 26-yard score on third-and-three play with 1:50 remaining.

Hess was 6-of-7 in the fourth quarter for 77 yards and a perfect 3-of-3 for 49 yards on the final drive of the game.

South Dakota State’s T.J. Lally was named the defensive player and the newcomer of the week. UNI kickoff returner/running back Carlos Anderson was tabbed the special teams player of the week.

The Penguins (4-0, 1-0) have a bye this week before an Oct. 6 trip to No. 1 ranked North Dakota State.

Penguins End Northern Iowa Drought With Dramatic 42-35 Win

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Youngstown State University entered their game with Northern Iowa 1-0 when there was a rain delay (Pitt).  YSU also entered the game riding an 11-game losing streak to UNI. When the clouds yielded, the teams were both granted 45 minutes to stretch out and warm up before the kickoff.  The delay lasted 45 minutes and about 3/4 of the announced crowd of 19,277 (largest in Stambaugh Stadium history) was noisy.  When the smoke cleared, the Penguins ended the losing streak and kept the rain-delay streak alive with a dramatic 42-35 win over Northern Iowa.

The Penguins stopped a last-minute threat by the Panthers offense to preserve the win and improve to 4-0 and 1-0 in MVFC play.  NIU had the ball at the YSU 11 and a fourth down pass to the end zone resulted in an incompletion.  YSU Coach Eric Wolford said they noticed NIU would run a pick play.

“We saw it on films and told the refs to look for it at some critical juncture in the game”, said Wolford.

“Our crowd proved to be a difference and that is what we expect around here.”, remarked Eric Wolford.  ”Right now we are 4-0 on all of our assignments, the guy upstairs is watching out for us.”

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Youngstown State took the opening kickoff and put together a drive filled with a little of everything.  There was a reverse, a dive, a couple of tight end pass-plays out of tight formations, an option, a sweep, and a touchdown too.  Jamaine Cook capped off the Shane Montgomery masterpiece at the 10:00 mark of the first quarter.  The twelve-play drive covered 73 yards.

On Northern Iowa’s first possession, the Panthers struck on a 32-yard pass play to tie the game.  After converting a third down, Sawyer Kollmorgen hit Terrell Sinkfield with a bubble screen on the left hash.  Sinkfield caught the ten yard pass and made a nifty move through the Penguins secondary on the touchdown.  The 7-play, 77-yard drive  gave the impression that both offenses were better than the other teams defenses.

Kurt Hess and the offense took the ball on their own twenty to start their second drive.  The offense traveled 80 yards on five plays, with the score coming on a nice 38-yard pass play.  Hess faked a reverse and found Andrew Williams on a post pattern.  Williams got a few steps on the defense and Hess hit the 6’2″ redshirt freshman in stride.

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With 9:26 left in the first half, the Penguins increased their lead to 21-7.  Nate Adams, the third tight end on the YSU depth chart, caught his first-ever touchdown pass to cap off another diverse effort by the YSU offense.  At this point in the game, Hess had completions to nine different receivers.

“To see those guys [Williams and Adams] get in the end zone is great. “, said Hess.  ”They both work very hard in practice and it was nice to see those two get into the end zone tonight.  I always miss Drew and was very happy to find him in the end zone tonight.”

With :27 seconds left in the half, Kollmorgen found David Johnson for a five yard strike.  The touchdown cut the lead to seven points and YSU was content with that lead to kneel out the ball to end the first half.

In the second half, UNI returned the kickoff to the 50.  Johnson would score again three plays into the half when he took in a short slant route and danced his way around would-be tacklers like pylons and then hit the afterburners outracing everyone to the end zone.

Johnson continued to torch the Penguins. With 8:59 left in the third quarter he broke a 23-yard run that gave the Panthers their first lead of the day.  Johnson’s run capped a 64-yard scoring drive that only took six plays and gave UNI a 28-21 lead.

On a fourth-and-two, the Penguins gambled.  Hess faked a handoff on the NIU 45 and then stepped back to find Will Shaw streaking down the right sideline for a 43-yard score.  The touchdown not only tied the game but also gave the Penguins defense a much-needed boost of momentum.

“We are not afraid to go for the big play on fourth down”, said Wolford.  ”Youngstown has had hard times.  We play for this university, and I have a great coaching staff.  It is a great situation we are in, but we must remain humble.  Our mindset is to play 15 or 16 games.  Our kids realize that.  You can’t be conservative though and I wasn’t going to be conservative at that moment.”

Jeremy Edwards ended a threatening UNI drive when he picked off an out route on a third down play.  The Penguins were unable to cash the turnover in for any points and ended up punting.

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The Johnson show continued when UNI’s 6’3″ sophomore ran another in, his fourth of the game, from 16 yards away.  The touchdown came with 12:42 left in the game and gave UNI a big 35-28 lead.

Torrian Pace pulled the Penguins back into a 35-35 tie when he plunged in from a yard out capping a drive that spanned 5:28.  A Hess to Shaw pass on a fourth and four that put the ball on the UNI three was the play that made the drive work.

The Penguins regained possession with 5:51 left in the game.  What happened from there was season-defining.  The Penguins drove the ball 69 yards in eight plays.  The drive was capped by a great pass from Hess to Christian Bryan for a 26-yard score.  The touchdown put the Penguins ahead 42-35 with 1:50 left in the game.

For the Penguins, Hess was 20-28 for 290 yards and four touchdowns.  Shaw hauled in five of the Hess balls for 95 yards and a touchdown.  Cook carried the ball 32 times for 147 yards and a touchdown.

Northern Iowa got a great game from Kollmorgen who rallied his team back almost every time they fell behind.  He finished the game 23-38 for 333 yards and three touchdowns.

Johnson gave the YSU defense fits with 6 catches for 76 yards and 17 carries for 87 yards and a total of four touchdowns.

Perhaps the biggest hero of the game was Donald D’Alesio.  D’Alesio sat out most of last year with injuries, but has been a solid performer since he returned.  He had in a hand in five pass breakups in this game including the final threat.

“There is no doubt that it felt good to contribute”, said D’Alesio.  ”I owed these guys that much.”

Huge Crowd Expected For YSU-NIU Game Despite Poor Forecast

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As the minutes count down to Saturday’s 7:00 p.m. game against Northern Iowa, the Youngstown State University Ticket Department is running out of supply to fill the demand.  In what will be the biggest football game to be played at Stambaugh Stadium since 2000, the house will be packed, despite a poor weather forecast.

Showers was the word nobody wanted to hear, but the only word being said during the weather segments on the radio and television stations.  Tickets, however, remain scarce as the Penguins will try to end an 11-game losing streak to Northern Iowa to open Missouri Valley Conference play.

“We want to fill the place up”, said Eric Wolford.

Jamaine Cook, YSU’s senior tailback may have said it even better.  ”We want Ron Strollo to have to build another section of stands.”

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With the crowd expected to be large and loud, the tailgate lots also needed expansion. The atmosphere will be festive and the football game should mark the official, ‘we are really good’ mantra from the fence-sitters.

“Third down is a huge down”, said Wolford.  ”We want the crowd to be very loud on third down to make it hard for them to hear and concentrate.  This place should be rocking.”

Wolford says that the UNI game is not a ‘must-win’ for his Penguins.  Earlier in the week on the MVFC conference call, UNI Coach, Mark Farley, declared that this is a must win game for his 1-2 Panthers.

With losses to Wisconsin and Iowa, Farley may be dramatizing a week-one conference matchup, but this guy marches to his own arrogant beat anyway.  Usually in this pregame article, there are quotes from a player of the opposing team.  Farley has a policy that forbids opposing media to speak with his players the week of the game.

Hmmmm..  Pitt bent over backwards to make sure I could get someone to get quotes from.  So did Michigan State last season.  I guess those teams aren’t as big as Northern Iowa in their coaches eyes.

Romeo Poised For Big Year, Phantoms Get By Dubuque

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Two days after being included among the “Players to Watch” for the 2013 NHL Draft, Sean Romeo made a statement to all the scouts in attendance at IBP Ice Arena – and more importantly to, his coaches and teammates on the bench.

The Cary, N.C., goaltender was stellar between the pipes, turning away 31 shots to back-stop the Youngstown Phantoms to a 3-2 win over the Dubuque Fighting Saints in their second game of the USHL Fall Classic.

The Phantoms got goals from Austin Cangelosi, Luke Stork, and JT Stenglein, who scored for the second straight night.

“It was the best hockey game we’ve been a part of so far,” head coach Anthony Noreen said. “The physicality and pace of the game was great and Sean was very good tonight. He made some big saves when we needed him.”

The Phantoms will close out things at the Fall Classic Saturday morning against the Green Bay Gamblers. The puck drops at 11 a.m. EST.

YSU Scrapes Out Hard-Fought 31-24 Win Over Albany

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All week long, Eric Wolford said his YSU Penguins would not look past Albany.  The Penguins were focused enough to pull out a 31-24 win.  The Penguins jumped to 3-0 and like Aronde Stanton said at the postgame press conference, any win is a good win.

“Albany did a good job coming in to play hard, they are well-coached “, said Wolford.  ”You can see why the coach has been there for 40 years.  I was encouraged that we found a way to come away with a win in the fourth quarter.  In any championship run, there is always a game like this.”

YSU started the game with the ball.  After picking up two quick first downs, Kurt Hess found Will Shaw for a 20-yard completion, but Shaw was blindsided and coughed up the pigskin.  Albany capitalized on a flea-flicker that saw Cole King haul in a 44-yard scoring toss from Will Fiacchi.

Trailing 7-0, the Penguins offense responded quickly.  Jamaine Cook (above) scored the first of three first half rushing touchdowns.  This one would come from two yards out and capped a 10-play, 87 yard drive.

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Albany would respond quickly to tie the game at 14 when Omar Osbourne rattled off a nice 32-yard touchdown run.

YSU started their next drive with nine minutes left in the half.  The Penguins offense would cover 7 yards in 11 plays to reclaim the lead on a Cook 7-yard tally.

Albany would score with nine seconds left in the half to tie the game at 21.  Drew Smith caught a Fiacchi pass in the left flats and got into the end zone almost untouched for the Great Danes.

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After both teams failed to convert their initial second half drives, Kyle Sirl sacked Fiacchi on third down to halt the next Great Danes possession.

“I started the season as a two and knew that everyone had to contribute”, said Sirl.  ”It was great to contribute, and it was a lot of fun.”

YSU (3-0) would build off of that momentum and take a 24-21 lead with 2:15 left in the third quarter.  Extra point specialist David Brown got to kick a field goal, from 25 yards to pull the Guins in front.  The field goal capped a 12-play 70 yard drive that chewed up 6:48.

With Albany on the move again, Sirl came up big for the second time in the half with another third down sack to stop a drive.  On the next drive, Sirl would have a hurry in what was turning into his best game ever.

“We needed to play tougher and hit them”, said Sirl.  ”That was the big adjustment at half. ”

“Kyle [Sirl] is a guy that has been in the program.  He isn’t the flashiest guy, he is an overachiever”, said Wolford.  ”He deserves all of the accolades for his hard work.”

Ali Cheaib blocked a punt for the second consecutive week.  The blocked punt would set YSU up at the Albany 29 with just over five minutes left in the game.  With 2:48 left in the game, YSU would ice the contest when Torrian Pace went off of left tackle for a one-yarder to make it 31-21.

Albany would kick a field goal to make it 31-24, but Dale Peterman fielded the onside kick attempt with :56 left in the game to seal the win for the Penguins.

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Cook had his best game of the year for the Penguins.  The senior tailback had 33 carries for 161 yards and three touchdowns.

Hess finished the contest 15-22 for 183 yards.  He showed maturity and poise more than once on third down plays in the second half.  Hess also had five rushes for 26 yards.

“It  was a fight.  Jermaine and I saw that from the beginning”, said Hess.  ”We responded and got a win.  It is going to help us.  They were a very disciplined football team.”

Fiacchi was 23-35 for 28 yards and two touchdowns.  Cole King caught seven passes for 115 yards.

The Penguins open Missouri Valley Conference play next week when Northern Iowa comes to town.  Northern Iowa lost to Iowa this week.

Tweet #5,000

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In the Winter of 2008, I had to have a hip replacement.  The down time I had to endure meant a lot of sitting around with nothing to do except watch reruns of Two And A Half Men and a bunch of game shows.

A friend of mine, Ethan Jaynes, who operated a blog called NESW sports, asked me to write a couple of posts.  When those stories did well, Jaynes hooked me up with the knowledge I would need to run my own site, Paneech.com.

In the time since, I have made a bunch of good friends and probably a few enemies too.

Fast forward to September of 2012.  I am working a 40-hour-a-week job, and still trying to keep up with this website.  Sometimes the posts seem scant, but that is because of the time constraints I have to deal with.

On of the biggest events I was lucky enough to cover was the dedication of Dave Grohl Boulevard in Warren.  I was interviewing Jen Campbell, the organizer of the event, in a side building as warm-up bands were wailing away outside.

Suddenly, on the third question of the interview, the door opens, and it is Dave Grohl.  He looks at us, the only two people in the room, and asks, “Am I early?”

Campbell had to run and gather some folks which left me solo with Grohl, who offered me a Budweiser.  We talked about everything from the steel industry to Wedgewood Pizza, to Kurt Cobain, to how often he sneaks back to this area to visit family.

It was the biggest, ‘right place at the right time’, moment in my life.

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I have caught some good breaks to gain access.  My first real coverage was of the Youngstown Thunder Arena Football team.  Those games were a lot of fun and I was able to develop my first player profile interviews while I was there.  Thanks to Anthony Farris for a chance.

The next break to fall into my lap was the Mahoning Valley Scrappers.  Marc Means and Dave Smith, the GM at the time, were instrumental in getting me the trial year of credentials.  The Scrappers, now functioning on the watch of Jordan Taylor, are fun because of the themes, the wrestling, the fireworks, and the personalities you meet who deal with baseball as a way of life every day.

Youngstown State University is something I never thought I would want to cover.  Too much stuff going on.  I wanted to give football a shot, so for the 2009 season, Jon Heacocks’s last,  Trevor Parks gave me that chance.  Call it good timing because nobody but WFMJ and Pete Mollica cared about the football program which seemed to be spiraling negatively.

I took a real liking to the way that the YSU people do things.  There were not too many media people who bet Jerry Slocum would still be around.  I got to know Slocum a little better than some and am glad he has found his niche here.

Covering Cindy Martin was tough because when a team goes 0-30, it is hard to ask many questions with positive answers.  Bob Boldon and his staff have picked up the slack in a big way and made that program fun.

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When Ron Strollo hired Eric Wolford for the 2010 season, he made the best possible choice for the university to rekindle a program known for its strong tradition.  Strollo has been fantastic and has seemed to make all of the right moves in the past couple of years.

Wolford is destined for bigger things.  I do not know how long he will be here, hopefully until he retires, but he makes no bones about being an SEC guy and by getting all of the good experience as a head coach here, Wolford will make a jump to a D-I school within the next few years.

Kelly Pavlik was getting recognition for beating Jermain Taylor a couple of times when I got to sit with him and chat.  Still active and back on the rise, The Ghost has provided some huge moments for this site.  Everything from title defenses to a bitter separation with Jack Loew, and no mention of foul play or substance abuse here.  No reason to.

Jake Giuriceo seems to be the next thing to emerge as a televised boxer from Youngstown.  This kid is so laid back, so spiritual, and so focused, that anyone who talks with him would be hard-pressed not to root for him.

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As the website continues to progress, I remain focused on trying to be entertaining and informative without the demise factor.  There is enough positive in the Youngstown area to avoid all of the negative.

So to Larry Holmes, the Youngstown Phantoms, 38 Special, Ron Stevens, and Pete Rose.  Thanks for the roles you have played here at Paneech.com!

Penguin Club Offering Up 12-Pack of Chairback Tickets

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New Penguin Club members are being offered a chance to receive their own “12-Pack” of seats in the Chairback section at Stambaugh Stadium if they join the organization at the $400 level.

Chairback seating offers some of the best game-action views in Stambaugh Stadium and it is exclusively available to Penguin Club members.

With the “12-Pack”, individuals can select 12 chairback seats and mix-and-match them for any game they’d like for the remainder of the season. If a fan wants 12 tickets to next week’s Conference Clash with UNI then they can get 12 seats for that game. If they want six for the UNI game, and two more for three others they can chose that option.

This gives fans a great chance to get all the benefits of the $400 Penguin Club level as well as get great seating for the rest of what could be a historic football season.

The Penguin Club is a vital support group for all Youngstown State student-athletes helping to provide scholarships and resources to be successful on and off the field.

Fill out the attached form and return it via fax to YSU Athletics at (330) 941-3191 or email at tmorella@ysu.edu. For more information call (330) 941-2351.