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.