Youngstown State (6-4, 3-4) kept their playoff hopes alive with a 31-7 victory at Western Illinois. The Penguins played a very methodical game and had a big edge in the time of possession, 39:52 to WIU’s 20:08, nearly a twenty minute difference.
Jamaine Cook (above) carried the ball 32 times for 113 yards in the win. Cook scored the first Penguins touchdown on the opening march of the game with a two-yard plunge to give the Penguins an early 7-0 lead.
Western Illinois freshman QB, Hayden Northern scored on a fourth-and-goal from the one to tie the game. The touchdown was the first for the Leathernecks since October 6.
YSU’s defense buckled down after the Leathernecks scored. The defense played well in the win, limiting Western Illinois to 142 yards of total offense for the afternoon. The numbers do not lie, 52 yards on 23 carries is a damn good defensive showing.
Meanwhile, the Penguins run game was in high gear. YSU would finish the game with 225 rushing yards on the ground. Kurt Hess and Torrian Pace scored touchdowns on the ground. Adaris Bellamy looked healthy as he tacked 60 rushing yards onto the total. The offensive line blocked well and their lone blemishes were a couple of penalties for false starts.
Hess had some problems with his passing as he was picked off to give Western Illinois the starting field position of YSU’s 17 on their lone scoring drive. Hess did make some good passes in the win, however, and finished the game 14-22 for 152 yards.
So the stage is now set for a meaningful war with Indiana State at Stambaugh Stadium next week. If Indiana State wins, they will get in. If YSU wins, there is a good chance that they will get in. The loser of this game will definitely see their season end.
The Sycamores had a bye week, giving them a couple of weeks to prepare for the Penguins. The vanilla ball-control offense Eric Wolford used to defeat the Leathernecks with was a perfect script of simplicity that Indiana State will learn little they already didn’t know when reviewing it.
The last two games against Western Illinois and South Dakota could be called cupcake games, but it should be noted that the teams ahead of YSU in the standings played one, or both, at some point this season as well. The timing couldn’t be better though for the Penguins, as getting on a little roll is huge going into a game that definitely puts the season on the line next week.