Youngstown State University has not fared well against Austin Sumner and Zach Zenner. Those two student athletes have spearheaded the South Dakota State football program past the Penguins for awhile. Seems like Zenner has been there for about ten years. Saturday, the Penguins successfully got that monkey off of their backs with a 30-27 triumph over the Jackrabbits in a matchup of nationally ranked teams representing the Missouri Valley Football Conference, aka the SEC of the FCS.
“I talked with Zach Zenner after the game and told him I admire his approach. We often read about what is wrong and the bad things that happen, but this is an example of what a college student athlete should be and I would encourage the media to write about him”, said YSU Head Coach Eric Wolford.
Sumner did not play. However, his backup, Zach Lujan gave the Penguins fits as he threw for 329 yards. I guess if your name is Zach, you are sent to South Dakota State – automatically. Lujan was under heavy pressure seemingly every down that the Jackrabbits attempted a pass.
Hunter Wells (below) played well for the Penguins (6-2, 3-1) and seems to have a lock on the starting quarterback job for YSU. Wells played in a wide open offense in high school at Navarre that has poised him to be a throwing quarterback at the next level. Wells threw for 256 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but more importantly, did a good job controlling the tempo of the offense, especially in the second half.
With the win over the Jackrabbits, the Penguins garnered two MVFC awards. Joey Cejudo was named the Special Teams Player of The Week. Cejudo nearly had a perfect game in the win over South Dakota State. He averaged 49.4 yards on five punts, made a 32-yard field goal, was 3-of-4 on PAT kicks and had two touchbacks on six kickoffs. He had his best game as YSU’s punter just five days after he suffered a sprained right knee that almost forced him to miss the game. His last boot, a career-long 59-yard kick pinned SDSU at its own two-yard line and all but ended any comeback hopes for the Jackrabbits. He had punts of 44 (twice), 48, 52 and 59 in the game.
Derek Rivers was named the Defensive Player of The Week. Rivers earned the first Defensive Player-of-the-Week honor of his career. Rivers had a career-high eight total tackles, a career-best six solo stops and had three sacks as the Penguins defeated South Dakota State 30-27 in Brookings. Rivers had a sack in the first quarter on a third-and-5, in the second quarter on a first-and-10 and the third quarter on a third-and-9. The YSU defense had six sacks in the game, and seemed to be in the backfield causing havoc the entire game.
YSU welcomes South Dakota to Stambaugh Stadium for a 2 pm conference tilt.
Coach Wolford talked about the win. “We don’t ever practice on grass, but we went to a muddy high school field to prepare for the game on grass. I was frustrated early, we were getting a lot of pressure on the quarterback and he was escaping. Once we tightened down our lanes, we were able to take the scrambling out of the game.”