Archive for October, 2012

YSU Awakens Too Late And Loses 41-28 To South Dakota State

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Going into South Dakota State, Eric Wolford knew that his Youngstown State team needed to play a better second half to win.  The Penguins (4-4, 1-4) outscored the Jackrabbits, 21-6 in the second half.  The problem was that South Dakota State had built a 35-7 halftime lead that proved to be too much of a deficit to overcome, as the Jackrabbits extended the nightmares for the Penguins with a 41-28 win.

In the first half, SDSU quarterback Austin Sumner threw touchdown passes to four different receivers.  Zach Zenner scored the other touchdown on an eight yard run.  The Jackrabbits really turned the momentum when they intercepted a Kurt Hess pass in the end zone with under two minutes remaining in the half. Sumner marched his team right down the field and finished the drive when he found Jason Scneider with just three seconds of play left in the half.

Hess scored the Penguins lone first half touchdown on a 15-yard run to the right pylon.  The junior quarterback had two touchdown passes in the second half, giving him 50 for his career.  He only needs one more to tie the record for career touchdown passes at Youngstown State.  Hess finished the game 25-42 for 270 yards with two touchdowns and two picks.

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The Penguins gave up another touchdown on the first offensive play of the second half for the Jackrabbits.  Sumner found Aaron Rollin on a post for a 49-yard touchdown to make the score 41-7.

The Penguins then showed a lot of heart and tried to at least make a game of it.  Hess found Christian Bryan and Will Shaw for scores.  In between the two touchdown passes, the Penguins got a defensive touchdown when Aronde Stanton ended up with a tipped ball and rumbled 19 yards to keep hope alive for the rejuvenated Penguins.

Shaw had his best day as a receiver for the Penguins.  The senior TE finished the game with 10 catches for 120 yards to lead all receivers.  Jamaine Cook, who was only really used in the first quarter-and-a-half, finished with 19 carries for 80 yards.

The playoff hopes of the Penguins took a big hit with the loss.  However, they can still get in as long as they win the next two and knock off Indiana State in the finale.  Indiana State won again Saturday and the Penguins would want them to win the next two weeks also.

Phantoms Stymied By Stars, 4-1

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The Youngstown Phantoms, coming off of a rough road trip, needed to nab a win at home.  The big hurdle to clear to succeed this goal would be to knock off unbeaten Lincoln.  The Phntoms had chances but could not hit the back of the net as often as they would have liked, falling 4-1 to the still undefeated Stars.

In the first period, the Stars jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead.  Daniel Willett scored just 2:06 after the puck was dropped.  It was Willett’s first goal of the season and was unassisted.

The Phantoms showed some life when they tied the game at a goal apiece.  At the 8:21 mark, Luke Stork tallied his third score of the year.  Todd Koritzinsky and JT Stenglein  were credited with assists on the game-tying goal.

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The Stars then hit the gas pedal scoring two more goals to take a 3-1 lead into the first intermission.  Tommy Schutt and Luke Johnson scored the two goals against Phantoms goaltender, Patrick Spano (above).  Sean Romeo would replace Spano to start the second period.

The Phantoms had chances to score in the second period, once on a breakaway, and once on a powerplay.  The Stars had only 18 shots on goal compared to 23 for the Phantoms.  Nobody could hit the twin in the second though, and the Stars retained their 3-1 lead.

Many Phantoms missed the game because of injuries.  Kyle Connor (upper body), Alfred Larsson (hand), John Padulo (hand) and Dan Renouf (wrist) were just a few of the scratches for the Phantoms.  The physical prowess that Padulo and Renouf present on defense was obviously missing.

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In the third period, the Phantoms seemed to physically keep up better than the first two periods.  Again, when it seemed the Phantoms would tighten the game up with a goal, the Stars would clamp down on defense.

Lincoln ended up taking less shots (26) than the Phantoms (30), but their shots were easier scoring chances.  Take nothing away from Stars goalee, Jacob Teichroeb, who made some very nice plays between the pipes to preserve the in for the Stars (7-0-0).

Phantoms To Start Earlier Sunday Due To President Obama Visiting Monday

The Youngstown Phantoms Sunday, October 28th game will be played at 2:00 PM due to President Obama’s visit on Monday. “We would like to Thank the Youngstown Phantoms organization and Bruce Zoldan for their cooperation in moving their game time,” Covelli Centre’s Executive Director Eric Ryan said. “We are able to hold a historic event at the Covelli Centre due to their flexibility.”

The Phantoms will take on the Waterloo Blackhawks on Sunday. Doors will open at 2pm and all tickets previously purchased will be honored.

The Covelli Centre box office will be closed on Monday, October 29th along with the concession stands for the Obama Rally.

 

#22 YSU At South Dakota State Game Preview

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Youngstown State has had a motto they have focused on this season, in good times and bad – focus on winning one game at a time.  Entering this week, the Penguins are still ranked at #22, still confident in the potential, and still in the thick of a playoff berth.  However, if the second half of football this week is anything like the past three have been, all of those aspirations can vanish quickly.

Eric Wolford has not beaten South Dakota State in his first two tries.  He knows that South Dakota State (5-2, 2-2) is in a similar situation with a sense of urgency churning through both teams preparing for this game which will have major playoff implications. As an added bonus, the Penguins will face the Jackrabbits on Hobo Day, the South Dakota State Homecoming.

“They are number one in the conference in red zone defense”, said Wolford at the weekly press conference.  ”They are terrific on third down too.  But the glaring thing is that program’s ability to recruit players that fit into their defensive scheme.”

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One of the reasons South Dakota State has been so good this season is Zach Zenner (above).  In last week’s loss to Northern Iowa, Zenner had 112 yards rushing.  Zenner currently leads all FCS backs with a 194 yards per game average.  The Jackrabbits sophomore tailback talked about the importance of winning on Hobo Day.

“Hobo Day, in one word, is Homecoming here”, said Zenner via telephone.  ”We are doing our best to grow some beards and it is a very festive time on campus.  Our mascot is a Jackrabbit, and there are knockoff mascots and a whole bunch of fun things going on.  Naturally, we want to try to win every game, but we really want to win on Hobo Day.”

YSU must shut Zenner down to have a chance.  They must also not give away penalty yards at crucial junctures of the game.

“We are looking to stay within ourselves”, said Zenner.  ”If they commit penalties against us, we won’t turn away the free yards.”

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Wolford has done a good job blocking out the sudden rush of negativity geared toward the way things have gone lately.

“When you are winning, everyone wants to pat you on the back and say how good things are”, exclaimed Wolford.  ”When you are not winning they will throw bricks, and sticks, and stones at you.  We don’t pay attention because we know what we have to do.”

“We know we are only guaranteed four more games”, said safety Donald D’Alesio.  ”They [South Dakota State] run a very basic offense, but they do what they do well.  We have to get this bad taste out of our mouths this week, we are ready to win.”

Junior LB, Ali Cheaib, who doubles as a special teams player, was asked which of the three phases of the game need the most attention, since he is involved with two of them.

“Special teams are getting better, and last week was our best effort since the Pitt game on defense.  We are confident as a team because we know what we are capable of.  There is also a sense of urgency, more than ever, and we know our backs are against the corner.”

Kickoff is scheduled for 3 pm EST, and the game will be televised on WFMJ.

YSU Volleyball Nabs Conference Win

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The Youngstown State volleyball team had four players reach double digits in kills and hit .273 as a unit to defeat Milwaukee in four sets (25-22, 20-25, 25-21, 25-23) in a Horizon League match on Saturday at Beeghly Center.

Missy Hundelt tied for match-high honors with 17 kills, and the junior from St. Louis added 13 digs for YSU, which responded from a tough five-set loss to Green Bay on Friday. Alexis Egler added 12 kills while Jenna Cavanaugh had 11 kills and Jackie Carlisle had 10. Hundelt hit .438, and Cavanaugh’s .474 attack percentage was the highest among any player with more than two kills. Erika West added a match-high 15 digs.

Elizabeth Egerer had 17 kills as one of three Panthers in double figures.

The win moves YSU into a three-way tie for fifth place with Milwaukee and Green Bay at 3-6.

“I’m very proud of how we fought this weekend,” YSU head coach Mark Hardaway said. “Last night was a very tough, emotional and physically-draining match. We were flat at times today but found a way to push through at the right times.”

“Our players off the bench continue to do a great job with Kelsey Wagy today and Nichele Johnson and Chelsea Guerrieri yesterday. Milwaukee has a very talented team, and I know this match could have gone either way.  We have been so competitive all year, and I’m very happy for the team. They deserved this win.”

There were 33 ties and 17 lead changes in the match, and the fourth set had 16 of those ties and nine of those lead changes.

Penguins Shoot Themselves In The Foot, Dropping 38-21 Game To Southern Illinois

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Eric Wolford started a new practice week like a politician, promising change.  Wolford made good on the promise of a more stubborn defense.  Something Wolford can’t scheme against or plan differently are the mistakes that doomed his Penguins.  Southern Illinois blocked a punt for a score, landed on a loose ball in the end zone, intercepted passes and recovered a fumble to defeat the Penguins, 38-21.

“We didn’t play very well.  There are three phases and we only played good defense”, said Eric Wolford.  ”We know we are capable of being a good football team but we have been shut out the last three games on offense.  We need to simplify some things.”

YSU started the game in very workmanlike fashion.  The Penguins marched 55 yards in ten plays to take a 7-0 lead on a 1-yard Jamaine Cook plunge.

The Salukis scored by the end of the first quarter on a 26-yard Austin Johnson field goal that cut the YSU lead to 7-3.

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Cook garnered his second touchdown of the game on a 4-yard scamper that would increase the lead to 14-3 for the Penguins.  The touchdown came with 11:43 left in the first half and capped off a ten play, 65-yard drive.

Big special teams plays by the Salukis hindered YSU’s improved defensive effort in the first half.  Southern Illinois blocked a punt with 5:36 left in the half and Courtney Richmond pounced on the loose pill in the end zone to close the gap to 14-10.

YSU would again retaliate with a good drive.  Cook had his third rushing touchdown of the half when he dove in from a yard out to increase the Penguin lead to 21-10.  It marked the third successful scoring drive of the half, this one covering 76 yards.

As a steady mist fell, Southern Illinois would cut the lead to 21-17 when Kory Faulkner spotted LaSteven McKinney for a 10-yard touchdown.

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On a third-and-short, Southern Illinois used play-action to catch the YSU defense out of position.  MyCole Pruitt was pretty much by himself, catching a Faulkner pass on about the ten and jogging into the end zone to give the Salukis their first lead of the afternoon at 24-21.

On the next YSU possession, with the Penguins trying to drive and get their lead back, an errant snap exchange between Hess and center Mark Pratt from the shotgun formation rolled into the Penguins end zone and Southern Illinois’ Tyler Williamson landed on the ball for a 31-21 Salukis lead.

With five minutes left and YSU driving, Hess was stripped of the ball while trying to make something out of nothing.  Southern Illinois recovered with a 10-point lead.

The final straw was a last gasp drive that ended in Hess getting picked off in the end zone and running 100 yards for a game-sealing touchdown.

The Penguins fell to 1-3 in the conference and probably can’t lose again if they want into the postseason.

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“It hurts [the loss] just like the rest of them.  Our defense played a great game and as a leader, I can take the blame, our offense did not get the job done”, said YSU’s Cook after the game.

Aronde Stanton, another captain, gave his views.  ”We lose as a team, so it doesn’t matter who plays better, offense or defense, it is a team loss.”

“I will be thinking all night about how to keep this team loose”, said Wolford.  ”We play South Dakota next week and we have not beaten them since I got here, so we have to really focus.”

#15 Youngstown State (4-2, 1-2) vs Southern Illinois (4-2, 3-1)

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Racing out to a 4-0 start is a good thing.  Collapsing on the road for two key conference games is not such a good thing.  Saturday, #15 Youngstown State (4-2, 1-2) will try to regain the winning form that vaulted them into being ranked as high as third in the polls when they take the field for their first home game since September 22.  Southern Illinois, one of the hottest teams in the league, comes in at 4-2, but are 3-1 in the conference.  The task is not easy, but the Penguins need to start winning again.

“Our backs are against the wall and we need to respond”, said Penguins junior QB Kurt Hess.  ”We are still growing as a team and cannot afford to hurt ourselves with small penalties.”

In last week’s loss to Illinois State, the Penguins didn’t break any records for penalty yardage, but the timing of at least two penalties proved very costly.

“We got a penalty on a kickoff and had to re-kick”, said Penguins Coach Eric Wolford. “Instead of having them pinned deep, we kick again and they get the ball around midfield.  We also had a personal foul penalty that was a dumb mistake on our part.  To win games in this conference, you just can’t make those kind of mistakes.”

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Southern Illinois has a tremendous talent at tight end in MyCole Pruitt.  Pruitt has 32 catches for 362 yards and three touchdowns.  He is also a pretty good blocking tight end.  Pruitt commented on what his team has to do to come away with a big road win.

“I expect this year’s game to be like last year”, said Pruitt.  ”It can probably go down to the end and the team who wins will make a play.”

Pruitt moves like a wide receiver, but looks like a lineman at 6’3″ and 247 pounds.

“I feel like there isn’t a linebacker in the conference that can cover me.”

Saluki QB Kory Faulkner is a dual-threat after starting a play.  He can run (47 yard rushing touchdown last week), or he can beat you with his arm (had a 384 yard passing game this season).  Southern Illinois keeps a defense off balance with plenty of motion and shifting.  The Penguins seem like they know what is coming, but can they execute?

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YSU center, Mark Pratt, reflected on what the last two weeks have been like.

“I hate losing.  I get sick to my stomach and I don’t eat right.  I didn’t talk to my wife much and I didn’t sleep well either.”

Wolford knows that Southern Illinois is a worthy opponent and that the Penguins need to be on their game, all three phases, and have to convert third downs, avoid penalties, and not commit turnovers.

“It gets agonizing to sit and watch films when you keep seeing the four or five plays that beat you,” said Wolford.  ”You don’t know going into a game which four or five plays will define a game, but at the end, you definitely know which plays they were.”

Wolford said that there will be changes.  Jamarius Boatwright will get the start in the defensive backfield.  The defensive line also looks to be shaken up, but Wolford would not say who would be where because it would be based on who performed the best in practice this week.

“We need to get back to having fun again”, said Wolford.

Everyone smiles on a winning team from the top down.  In this battle of a couple of teams who dominated the I-AA division in sections of years, one team will leave the field smiling, attempting to regain championship form from years past at their respective universities.  The other will leave scratching their heads wondering why it is so difficult to rekindle the magic that once defined their team as a powerhouse in this sport.

YSU 37, Southern Illinois 29.

Phantoms Ice Shavings

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With the Youngstown Phantoms off to a 4-2-0 start, a crucial three-game road trip this weekend can help this team form an identity.  Oozing with potential, these Phantoms are digging in at the most crucial times of the game to record wins.

Coach Anthony Noreen would surely rather be in front from wire-to-wire, but the come from behind wins have been exciting to watch.  If you want some inexpensive fun on a weekend, do yourself the favor of checking out one of these games, you will not leave disappointed.

Some fresh news from the ice:

  • Brian Wojtowicz has been named to the position of Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, team owner Bruce J. Zoldan announced today. Wojtowicz, a Canfield native, has been with the Phantoms hockeyfranchise since the Phantoms joined the United States Hockey League in 2009-10 and previously held the title of director of corporate sales.

“I’m very thankful to the Zoldan family for giving me the opportunity to serve as vice president of the Youngstown Phantoms,” Wojtowicz said. “It’s a wonderful organization from the top down, and I am committed to continuing the team’s success both on and off the ice.”

As vice president and COO, Wojtowicz will be responsible for directing the day-to-day business operations of the Phantoms organization and managing the front office. He will also continue to work with the team’s corporate sponsors.

  • Center Austin Cangelosi and left wing JT Stenglein will exchange the Phantoms’ black, orange and purple for the Red, White and Blue in early November. The pair has been chosen to represent Team USA at the 2012 World Junior A Challenge, which will run from Nov. 2-11 in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, USA Hockey announced today.

“In my opinion, there’s no greater honor in all of sports than to wear your home country’s flag on your chest,” head coach Anthony Noreen said. “I couldn’t be happier for Austin and JT. It’s a great opportunity for both of them and it speaks volumes for our program.”

It is the second season in a row that Cangelosi, 18, has been named to the U.S. roster. Stenglein, 19, will be representing his country for the first time.

  • The Phantoms will take on the Fargo Force Thursday night and Sioux City Musketeers Friday night before wrapping up Saturday night against the Sioux Falls Stampede.  Both Fargo (3-2-1, 7 points) and Sioux Falls (4-2-0, 8 points) are near the top of the Western Conference standings and undefeated at home this season. The Force have three players in the top 10 in scoring in the league, including Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick Dominic Toninato. The Stampede have a pair among the top 10 scorers as well, led by second-year forward Sam Rothstein, and are the only team that the Phantoms have yet to defeat since joining the USHL in 2009-10.

YSU Falls To 4-2 As Conference Road Woes Continue

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Youngstown State watched a 21-point lead evaporate as Illinois State (6-1, 3-1) scored the last 28 points of the game to complete a comeback that sends the Penguins (4-2, 1-2) losing streak to two games.

“Offensively, we had some foolish penalties that kept us behind the chains”, said Eric Wolford.  ”We probably have to make some personnel changes.  We can’t keep thinking that things are going to change with the personnel we are using.”

The Penguins opened the game with a ten-play, 76 yard march.  Jamaine Cook, who had a huge day, punched it in from seven yards away to make it 7-0 in favor of the Penguins.  That lead would increase to 14-0 when Kintrell Disher caught a nice fade route in the corner that Kurt Hess delivered to the only catchable spot.

The Redbirds found the scoreboard by the end of the first quarter.  Darrelynn Dunn tallied from eleven yards away to make it 14-7 in favor of the Penguins.

Before the first half would end, the Penguins would go up, 28-7 on a pair of Cook touchdowns from one and 14 yards away.  The resilient Redbirds closed it to 28-14 before the half ended.

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The Redbirds took their first lead of the game when Brown was ruled across the plane of the goal line.  Watching the replay on television a few times, I’m not so sure.  Either way, it made the score 35-28 in favor of Illinois State with 2:44 left in the game.

YSU would get the ball with plenty of time left in the game but ran out of downs as the comeback attempt was thwarted with less than a minute left in the game deep in Redbirds territory.

Brown started slow for ISU but would finish the game 20-31 for 225 yards, passing for three touchdowns and rushing in the game-winning score.  Dunn had 19 carries for 75 yards.

For the Penguins, Cook had 30 carries for 177 yards and three scores.  Hess finished 16-29 for 201 yards and a touchdown.

The Penguins return home next week to face Southern Illinois at 4 pm.

Phantoms Fall 4-1 To Dubuque, 13 Shots On Goal Not Enough

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The Youngstown Phantoms entered Fridays game against Dubuque 4-0-0, and undefeated.  The problem was that the Fighting Saints (3-0-0) also came in unscathed this young USHL season.  Unfortunately for the Youngstown hockey fans, the Phantoms could only get off 13 shots on goal and fell to a very good opponent, 4-1.

Dubuque wasted little time jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first with less than four minutes played.  Frank DiChiara tallied the first goal for the Fighting Saints.  DiChiara was assisted by John Stevens.  Moments later, Jarrid Privitera claimed the second goal just 1:11 later at the 3:58 mark of the first period.  Peter Quenneville notched an assist on Privitera’s first goal of the season.

Phantoms goaltender Sean Romeo (below) buckled down after the rough start and was able to keep the Fighting Saints off of the scoreboard for the rest of the first period.  Dubuque only took five first period shots, and with two resulting in goals, Romeo held a save percentage of .600 through the first period.

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In the second period, Dubuque would add to their lead when Alex Fossen connected with his first goal of the season.  The even-strength goal came with 15:18 left to play in the second period and Eric Freschi and Matt Benning were credited with assists.

The Phantoms showed life when they were able make it 3-1 with 11:13 left in the second.  Mac MacSorley recorded his first point of the season when he beat Dubuque netminder Arthur Brea.  First-year Phantom JJ Piccinich also hit the stat sheet for the first time with an assist.

With about a minute left in the second, Phantoms forward Alfred Larsson  and Dubuque defenseman Brandon Carlson dropped the gloves.  Carlson probably wishes he would have reconsidered as Larsson landed about 15 rights.  Both were sent off of the ice with five minute majors and the second period ended shortly after.

JT Stenglein, serving a league-imposed one game suspension for a punch thrown at Cedar Rapids commented on the positive effect of Larsson’s antics.

“That was Larsson just stepping up and being a leader.  The team was kind of down and he went out there and took on one of their tougher guys and wins his first fight, it will lift the team for the third period”, said Stenglein between periods.

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In the third period, the Phantoms did their best to recreate the magic they captured two weeks ago on the opening homestand with two dramatic come-from-behind wins.  Unfortunately, Dubuque was up to the challenge in holding off the Youngstown charge.

DiChiara added an empty-net goal to close the scoring at 4-1.

The story of this game was shots on goal.  The Phantoms only took 13 of them and it seemed like 75% of the third period was played on the wrong third of the ice.