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.