Archive for September, 2013

YSU Makes Halftime Adjustments And Rally, 28-27


The opening game of Missouri Valley Football Conference play did not go so well for Youngstown State in the first half.  The Penguins got into a 27-14 hole in the opening session and had to make adjustments.  The changes resulted in Southern Illinois not scoring in the second half after having their way on offense in the first half and a 28-27 win for YSU.

The Penguins trailed 7-0 before a pair of Kurt Hess touchdown passes to Andre Stubbs  gave the Penguins a 14-7 lead.  SIU quarterback, Kory Faulkner, then went completely off throwing and running through the Penguins and leading the Salukis to a 27-14 lead at the half.  Thomas Kinney‘s missed extra point on the fourth touchdown would end up haunting Southern Illinois.

Then came the adjustments.  The Penguins defense found a way to contain Faulkner while applying much more pressure in the second half.  Offensively, YSU found a way to move the ball.  Martin Ruiz had a great game carrying the ball 20 times for 87 tough yards.  Ruiz also caught three passes for 50 yards with a huge reception in the fourth quarter on the game-winning drive.


The offense unveiled a new chapter – Carson Sharbaugh.  The senior tight end from New Wilmington, PA was lined up in the backfield on short-yardage situations and given the ball to convert first downs for the Penguins four times in the game.

Lining up in the Sharbaugh formation on a fourth-and-goal with just over two minutes to play, the Saluki defense seemed convinced that with Sharbaugh back there he would get the handoff.  That theory was foiled when he motioned right and snuck behind the defense to haul in the game-winning pass from Kurt Hess.

Credit to Shane Montgomery for showing imagination at the right times in this win.

Hess played brilliantly.  He did not force much and made veteran decisions of when to throw the ball away and when to take off running.  He would finish the game 25-37 for 258 yards and four touchdowns.

Defensively, Donald D’Alesio was everywhere.  The senior captain made several key stops, 15 in all.  The whole secondary showed great improvement and covered Saluki receivers very well throughout the contest.

The Penguins (4-1, 1-0) will head back to the road next week to face Indiana State.

YSU Drops Dukes, 59-17, Head Into League Play With Win


Youngstown State got back on the winning track with a 52-17 win over Duquesne.  The Penguins came out a little sluggish, but shook off the hangover with enough vigor to look impressive heading into league play.

The thing that stood out in the win was balance.  The defense really hit hard Saturday, credit them for the low-scoring output from Duquesne.  Offensively, there was true balance as the run and pass games were both effective.  More impressively, both phases got major contributions from many different players.  Whether it was Ruiz or Pace, Hess to Bryan, or Hess to Adams — it will end up being a hard film to grade for Southern Illinois.

“We got a lot of balance”, said Wolford.  “We have to do a better job of getting some guys in.  When they load up the box, we have to be able to throw the ball down the field, and we did that well today too.  We dropped three potential interceptions and if we keep contain, we get sacks too.”

The 3-1 record that YSU takes into Missouri Valley Conference play comes without a true gauge of what to expect.  The three wins — against Duquesne, Morehead State, and Dayton should all have been wins.  The loss to Michigan State fell well below the expectation of making a good showing.  When combining the results of those four games, nothing is certain entering the conference schedule.


The Penguins put up the only points in the first quarter on a 40-yard field goal form Joey Cejudo.

The defense started to really put some licks on the Dukes in the second quarter.  Once the offense got their hands back on the ball, the Penguins rode the back of Torrian Pace.  The senior running back carried the ball five straight times to cover the last 19 yards of the scoring drive.

Dom Rich recovered a fumble to give Youngstown State the ball back, but the Dukes ended the scoring threat forcing the Penguins to punt.  Once the Guins got their next possession, Andre Stubbs broke a reverse for 44 yards but it was called back due to an illegal block in the back.

The Penguins recovered from the penalty, and then some, tallying two touchdowns before the end of the first half.  Martin Ruiz, who seems to be emerging as the Penguins number one tailback, had a nine-yard scoring run.

With 46 seconds left in the first half, Kurt Hess found his tight end, Nate Adams, across the middle for a 52-yards scoring play.  The late burst put the home team ahead, 24-0, at the break.

“We came out a little sluggish”, said Adams.  “I’m glad Kurt found me though, it always feels good to be in the end zone.  Going into conference play with confidence is big for us.”


Duquesne came out to start the second half not looking at all like a defeated team.  The Dukes engineered a nice 75-yard scoring drive which ended on an Ethan Dorsey one-yard plunge and made the score 24-7.

The Dukes wasted little time scoring their next six.  On the first play of their second drive, Dillon Buechel found Gianni Carter for a 63-yard hookup to make it 24-14.

Dale Peterman returned for the Penguins and made several big defensive plays.

“It felt good, I have been waiting a long time “, said Peterman.  “Coach Tresey and Davis stress that turnovers win games.  David Rivers returned one and we got some fumbles,we felt pretty good.”

The Penguins would roar back angrily with their own scoring drive of 84 yards as Ruiz cashed in with a four-yard jaunt, his second touchdown on the day, that would give YSU a 31-14 lead.  He would add a third score from five yards out on the very next drive to make it 38-14.


Hess found Marcell Caver (above) for a 55-yarder that made it 45-14 to start the fourth quarter.  Jody Webb made it 52-17 with 5:20 left in the game on a ten yard tally. David Rivers added an exclamation point with a pick six to make it 59-17.

Hess would finish the game 15-25 for 292 yards and a pair of touchdowns.  Ruiz paced the ground attack with his three touchdowns and 66 yards on 18 carries.  Pace add 65 yards on 17 carries.  Nate Adams caught four passes for 104 yards.

For Duquesne, Buechel finished 21-38 for 362 yards, but took a solid licking the last play he was in.  Kevon Caffey nailed Buechel from behind.  Carter had four catches for 134 yards to lead the Dukes.

Michigan State Handles YSU, 55-17


The letters MS stand for two things in YSU’s recent past – Morehead State and Michigan State.  The similarities stop with the coincidental initials.  Mark Dantonio’s offense only had two touchdowns on offense coming into Saturday’s contest, but got dialed in at YSU’s expense.  The Spartans amassed seven touchdowns and rolled to a 55-17 win against the Penguins.

The trick for YSU(2-1) will be to pick up the pieces and move on.

“We will use the 24-hour rule”, said Coach Eric Wolford.  “Obviously, we are disappointed, we got whooped out there today.”

Muired in quarterback controversy this season, the Spartans got a good performance from Connor Cook (below).  The Spartan starter completed 15 of 22 passes and had four touchdowns in the first half before being replaced halfway through the third period with the game seemingly decided.


The Penguins got off to a rough start.  Michigan State deferred after winning the toss.  The opening kickoff was mishandled by Andre Stubbs, who fell on the ball on the YSU five-yard line.  The first two plays were passes, both to Michael Wheary, and both   unsuccessful attempts.  The Penguins punted, and the Spartans established early dominance.

At the half, the Spartans held a commanding 35-10 lead.

YSU got a touchdown running the option to the left side with Kurt Hess pitching to Martin Ruiz for a 5-yard score.  Joey Cejudo kicked the extra point and also would nail a 34-yard field goal.  That was all of the scoring for the Penguins in the first half.

“Schematically, we were ready, we just didn’t execute”, said Hess.  “They were a really well coached team and they capitalized on our mistakes.”


Hess finished the game 11-27 for 121 yards and a touchdown.  YSU was paced by Ruiz who had 11 carries for 36 yards and four catches that added up to 57 yards, including a 34-yard connection with Hess for a second half touchdown.

YSU had two turnovers, one on a first half option pitch that Martin Ruiz took his eyes off of looking upfield.  The other was in mop up time as Wheary mishandled a kickoff return that yielded  field goal.

“That has been a problem for us that we need to correct”, said Wolford.  “We took the guy out who fumbled the first time and the new guy did the same thing, so we will have to keep working on that.”

“We will keep working to improve and we will get better”, said Ruiz.  “We need to make some corrections.”

The Penguins only managed eight first downs and lost the time of possession by nearly a 2-1 margin (39:09 – 20:51).

“When you go 2-12 on third down and get beat in time of possession that badly, you are not going to win very many football games”, said Wolford.

The Penguins look to rebound next week against Duquesne.


#23 YSU At Michigan State Game Preview


This is the last time, in all probability, that Youngstown State University (2-0) will play Michigan State in a football game.  Two years ago, YSU made it interesting before ultimately falling 28-6.  That loss marked the end of the “money beatings”.  A money beating was when a I-AA, or FCS, school would travel to a larger opponent’s facility and come home with a big check and hopefully, their health.

The level of competitiveness the Penguins showed that night carried over to Pitt last season.  The result was a win, and the “money beating” banter has turned to “hurry up and get these little schools off of your schedule” in the Big-10.

Michigan State is an interesting opponent for the Penguins to face this week for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, the Spartans are on the bubble of cracking into the big poll.  Interestingly enough, Michigan State has six touchdowns in their two wins this season, four by the defense, and just two from the offense.  Three of the Spartans touchdowns have been scored by a defensive end, Shilique Calhoun, which makes him the team leader in scoring.


One of the other six Michigan State touchdowns came from a local who is a Spartan.  Kurtis Drummond, a Hubbard grad, made a spectacular one-handed snag and raced to the end zone.  Speaking with Drummond via telephone, the Spartans will not overlook the Penguins.

Kurt Hess has a great arm”, said Drummond.  “You don’t just accidentally rack up 700 yards of offense in a week.  He has the ability to put the ball in places that many can’t, and he also reads defenses very well.”

The admiration was clearly mutual coming from Hess.

“I got to see him play when he was in high school”, said Hess.  “I went to a game with Marc Kanetsky and couldn’t believe how fast he {Drummond} was.  He is a ball hawk and plays very fast.”

When asked about next week’s matchup with Notre Dame, Drummond said, “We are not looking ahead at all, this is the game on our schedule this week.  You are the first person to get me to say the words Notre Dame.  Youngstown State was the only college team I ever saw play a game until I got here, so this matchup has added excitement for me.”

Drummond may not be the only excited Spartan welcoming Youngstown.  There is a ton of local connectivity between the two schools.  Head Coach Mark Dantonio was a YSU coach in the mid-to-late eighties, as was his co-offensive coordinator Jim Bollman.  Pat Narduzzi, the current Spartans defensive coordinator, played for his father Bill at YSU in 1986 before transferring.  Jim Tressel’s nephew, Mike Tressel, is the linebackers coach.

YSU Coach Eric Wolford could not praise Dantonio and his staff enough.

“He {Dantonio} should be given credit for turning Cincinnati’s program into a powerhouse.  Those guys that came after him there should give him their bonus checks because he instituted a great program.”


Watching film on Michigan State has to be tough because of the lack of offensive production.

“They have used four quarterbacks”, said D. J. Moss.  “Coach Tresey will have to put together the defensive game plan that could give us a chance to win.  They {MSU} are extremely well coached.”

Wolford knows that the Big-10 games are going to be done for awhile after Illinois next season.  He commented on the opportunity the players have with this game.

“I hate to see that end”, said Wolford.  “Our guys really look forward to going and playing in a special environment like Michigan State or any of the bigger facilities.  It is nice that they can get the chance to play in front of 60,000 to 100,000 fans.  We were a really young football team when we were there two years ago, a lot of our guys were freshmen and sophomores, they are older now, but we know that we can’t sneak in like we did two years ago, and that those coaches will have their team’s attention this week.”

I will not rule out the possibility of the Penguins pulling off a second straight FBS upset.  They have to score a few points and hold a struggling offense down.  If Hess can get hot, and the role players like Carson Sharbaugh, Kyle Sirl, Martin Ruiz, and Joey Cejudo can contribute like they are capable of, it might be another wild day.

“I’m not going to make any predictions”, said Wolford.  “All I can say is that we expect to play well.”

The game will be televised on the Big-10 Network and kickoff is slated for 2 pm.

YSU “Tunes The Car Up” For A Trip To Michigan State


Youngstown State University played the first game of a two-week swing that may feature the best team they will face all season (Michigan State) and the least talented team (Morehead State).  Phase one of the experiment went well as the Penguins rolled to a 67-13 victory at home.

Coach Eric Wolford and staff executed a game plan that did what it should have against a non-scholarship school like Morehead State.  The Penguins dominated all three phases of the game, convincingly.  The performance will vault the Penguins into a more confident state of mind before heading to East Lansing next week when the shoe is completely on the other foot.

Kurt Hess (below) got back on track, turning in a solid first half only performance.  Hess was 16-19 for 282 yards and three touchdowns.  The Hess TD’s were to Andre Stubbs, Andrew Williams, and Marcel Caver.  All three touchdown passes were in the first quarter, which ended with YSU ahead, 22-0.

“Offensively, we wanted to come up and prove what we could do”, said Hess.  “We played up to our potential today.  I had a sharper week of practice.  I appreciate the reps that our backups got today, it is nice to see all of the talent live up to expectation.”


In the second quarter, the YSU rushing game did all of the scoring for the Penguins.  Martin Ruiz tallied for a 14-yarder, Jody Webb scored on a nine-yard scamper, and Torrian Pace rumbled in from three yards out to stake the Guins to a 43-7 halftime lead.

Webb (bottom photo), who had the most yardage of all the YSU running backs, maximized his chances as he carried the ball 11 times for 122 yards.  He would score twice in the second half from seven and from 34 yards to put YSU ahead 53-7.  The second touchdown was an electrifying burst up the middle where Webb was dancing through Eagle tacklers like orange pylons.

“You got to see Jody Webb today”, commented Wolford.  “Sometimes you don’t even have to block for a guy like that.”


Defensively, the Penguins had fun, with the exception of one series.  Travis Williams (above) had a big sack in the first quarter which knocked the Eagles staring quarterback, Logan Johnson, out of the game.

“We got it all together in the locker room and knew we could put on that kind of a dominating performance”, said Williams.  “Coach Tresey wants us all around the ball and the d-line is really showing up this Fall.  We played Morehead as if they were a Michigan State or a North Dakota State, we won’t take anyone lightly this season.”

To capitalize what kind of a day it was, on his first defensive snap of the year, David Rivers, a redshirt freshman, thwarted a fourth quarter Morehead State drive with an interception in the end zone.


The Penguins did a good job being playground bully on Saturday.  YSU amassed 718 total yards on offense (359 rushing, 359 passing).  They will need a nearly flawless effort next week in a game that they can win if they follow through on every detail, win the time of possession, and do not turn the ball over.

“It’s good to get a win”, said Coach Wolford.  “A lot of guys got to play today.  They kept trying to blitz us like crazy, so we had to continue to pass, whereas we would have preferred to run.”

“Michigan State is a Big-10 team, nationally ranked, and we are going up there to play in a great atmosphere.  You have to be up for a game like this.  We weren’t perfect today by any means.  It is a big football game.  We went for two after the first touchdown so teams would spend a little extra time making sure they line up right, but also because eight is better than seven.”

The depth that the Penguins have was really on display from the second quarter until the end of the game.  Wolford had to feel good about what he recruited with the production of his reserves.  Names like Tanner Garry and Parnell Taylor got action in the fourth quarter.