Offense Powers YSU To Dramatic 38-34 Win At South Dakota

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Youngstown State stayed unbeaten in Missouri Valley Conference play with a dramatic and wild 38-34 win over South Dakota.  More importantly, the Penguins are one step closer to a championship, and may only need one more win in their final three games to secure a playoff berth, the first of the Eric Wolford Era.

Martin Ruiz (above) scored the game-winning touchdown with 14 seconds to play to lift YSU.  The winning drive featured great clock management by Kurt Hess, great play calling by Shane Montgomery, and superb effort from the entire offensive unit.

Ruiz would finish the game with 131 yards on 23 carries with a pair of scores.

Jordan Roberts gave South Dakota a 34-31 lead when he hit the end zone with two minutes left to play.  Youngstown State (8-1, 5-0) snatched the win with a 10-play, 74-yard march, highlighted by Ruiz’s four yard touchdown.

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Both YSU freshman running backs, Ruiz and Jody Webb, made big plays when the Penguins needed them most.  Webb scored the Penguins first touchdown on a well-designed 40-yard wheel route that put YSU ahead 7-3.  Webb would score another for the Penguins and finished the game with five carries for 64 yards and two receptions for 52 yards.

“This is a tough place to win, I think they have gone 48-4 here”, said Wolford.  ”This is quite an atmosphere and Coach Glenn is doing a tremendous job here.”

Hess would finish the game with 283 passing yards and threw two touchdowns while running for another.

YSU would finish with 517 offensive yards, and that total could have been much higher if you take away a few costly penalties and three lost fumbles.  To have all of that working against you, and still come out a winner, makes for a good tale of overcoming adversity .

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Youngstown State had problems and could feel fortunate coming out with a win.  Andre Stubbs (above) had the ball stripped from behind on a return, Joey Cejudo missed an extra point breaking a string of 51 straight.

Next up for the playoff-seeking Penguins is another road game in a different dome.

This time the bus will point to Northern Iowa.  Uncharacteristically, UNI is 0-5 in conference play and 3 of those losses were consecutive, overtime defeats – an FCS record.  They are very capable of beating anyone in the league and YSU has to be ready to play.

Penguins Head Into Bye Week 7-1 Following Hard-Fought 24-14 Homecoming Win

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On a gloomy October afternoon, Youngstown State was tested in a big way by a very game Western Illinois team.  Joey Cejudo’s 33-yard field goal in the third quarter gave the Guins the lead for good and Kurt Hess found Nate Adams with 2:34 left in the game to ice a 24-14 Penguins victory on Homecoming Day.

“We left a lot of yards on the field, and no team is perfect”, said Adams.  ”They came in with a great game plan.  We will take the win when we can. ”

Youngstown State jumped out to a 7-0 lead on a 60-yard run by Martin Ruiz.  The talented freshman would finish the game with 199 yards on 20 carries.

“I wouldn’t have any yards if it wasn’t for my linemen, this is a good chance to give them their props”, said Ruiz on his great performance.

Western Illinois would tie the game by going 60 yards in 12 plays.  Quarterback Trenton Norvell would dive in from a yard out on a designed bootleg right.

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Nick Liste proved to be a valuable commodity for the Guins, again.  Liste buried the Leathernecks on their own one-yard line twice in the game, once in each half.

“Liste could be our MVP this season”, said Wolford.

With 5:08 left in the first half, Kurt Hess found Christian Bryan for a seven yard score.  The Penguins got the ball on the nine yard line when Leatherneck punter Nathan Knuffman had problems handling a low snap.  Once Knuffman gained possession of the ball, Kyle Sirl pried the pigskin loose.  Donald D’Alesio fell on the ball for the Penguins.  Sirl had ten tackles.

“We are gonna get everyone’s best shot when they come in here to play”, said Sirl.  ”If an opportunity comes my way, I am going to do my best to make a play.”

In the second half, the Leathernecks proved they were here to play with a game-tying 99-yard drive.  Norvell found Lance Lenoir for a seven-yard touchdown strike that would make it 14-14 with 7:26 elapsed in the third quarter.

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The drive that would end up making all of the difference in the world for the Penguins started in the third quarter and would result in a score in the fourth quarter.  Joey Cejudo connected on a 33-yard field goal that would put YSU ahead 17-14 with 11:34 left in the game.

Western would take the next possession all the way to the YSU 30-yard line before stalling and missing a 40-yard field goal attempt – wide left.  Sirl had a sack and a tackle for the Penguins to halt the momentum.

“It’s a good thing we had 250 rushing yards, because we didn’t throw the ball well”, said Eric Wolford.  ”We left some plays out there.  We will do some self-scout, and reassess what is working and what is not.”

From there, Ruiz rambled off a 57-yard scamper to get the ball to the Leatherneck 17-yard line. Demond Hymes took the next handoff for nine yards to the WIU eight.  Hess used a sneak to the left of his center, All-American Chris Elkins.

On third and goal from the five, Hess found Adams who made a nice diving catch to give the Penguins a 24-14 lead.  Hess would only finish the game with 47 yards on seven completions, but protected the ball well and again, made big plays.

Youngstown State Pounds Illinois State, 58-21, To Go To 6-1

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Youngstown State University looked as good as they have all season in destroying Illinois State, 58-21, in front of a good crowd of over 16,000.  Kurt Hess ran the offense as well as he ever has in leading the way and put up a career-high 311 passing yards in the win.

“It was a fun game, we had a good week of preparation.  The offensive line played great, and we were clicking”, said Hess.

Illinois State took the opening kickoff and drove 75 yards to take a 7-0 lead on a Collin Keoshian 2-yard touchdown scamper.  YSU would respond when Carson Sharbaugh motioned to the right and slid behind the defense for a two-yard catch that would tie the game.  Sharbaugh has played an increasingly important role in the offense the last few weeks.  He would be used in short yardage situations as a ball carrier and converted every chance he got to touch the ball into a Penguin first down.

“We executed our game plan”, said Jelani Berassa, who scored during the 31-point second quarter explosion.  ”Kurt was on point tonight.  Before the game, I told Kurt I felt something in him tonight, and he proved it tonight.  It felt good to get in the end zone.”

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The Penguins scored three touchdowns in a five minute span to take control of the game.  Hess found Andrew Williams from 40 yards out, then Martin Ruiz scored on a 26-yard run.  The third touchdown was a beautiful 67 yard strike from Hess to Marcel Caver.  The bomb completion was perfect as Hess hit Caver in stride with a ball that traveled about 45 yards in the air.  Caver put himself into another gear to create separation from the defender and never broke stride.

“It was a good one because I made him {Caver} chase it.  He ran it down”, said Hess. “We accepted the challenge as a team and we can be as good as were on offense two years ago.  Sometimes we get penalties, we need to continue to iron it out.”

Illinois State tried to rally as Cameron Meridith caught a 73-yarder from Blake Winkler.   That would make the score 28-14 in favor of the Penguins.

The rally was short lived for the Redbirds.  Joey Cejudo nailed a 38-yard field goal to increase the lead to 31-14.  With thirty seconds left in the half, Hess threw his fourth score to a fourth receiver – Jelani Berassa.  The pitch-and-catch would send the teams to the locker room with YSU ahead comfortably, 38-14.

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In the second half, the Penguins kept rolling.  Demond Hymes got in on the action as he carried the ball 5 yards for a score.  Hess would tack on another, this time on the ground, as the senior signal caller dashed into the end zone for a 16-yard score.

Marshaun Coprich scored a fourth quarter touchdown for Illinois State to make it 52-21.  Coprich would be the first running back to go over the 100-yard mark since the North Dakota State State game in Week 6 of the 2012 season.

The 59 points put up by YSU were the most points put up in a conference game ever by a Penguins team.  The old record was 56 against Western Illinois.  The defense played equally led by senior captain Donald D’Alesio who intercepted a pass.

“We buckled down and got after them”, said D’Alesio.  ”We have goals to get three turnovers a game.  We are playing much faster than we have been playing in the past.”

 

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Statistically, the Penguins were a juggernaut on offense.  Nick Liste did not put until there were two minutes left in the third quarter.  All of the preceding drives (eight) resulted in points.  Liste did get his moneys worth kicking the ball off as he booted each YSU kickoff into the end zone.  NFL bound?

Ruiz finished the game with 85 rushing yards on just eight carries before he left the game with what looked like a sprained ankle.  His replacement, Hymes, tallied nine carries for 65 yards.  Jody Webb got in on the act too.  The gifted transfer had a 21-yard touchdown run which seemed like he was twice as fast as anyone else on the field.

In the receiving department, Hess connected with eight different targets.  Leading the way was Caver with three catches for 99 yards.

“Obviously a good effort by our football team tonight” said Eric Wolford.  ”We need to keep getting bigger and bigger.  On third down, the other team should not be able to communicate.  We need that to continue to grow here.”

The Penguins will host Western Illinois next Saturday at Stambaugh Stadium.  Kickoff is set for 4 pm.

Trick Or Treat At Eastwood Field Set For October 23

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The Mahoning Valley Scrappers and First Place Bank present the fifteenth annual “Trick or Treat” at Eastwood Field, with media partners 21 WFMJ, WBCB, and Hot 101.  The event will take place Wednesday, October 23rd from 6:00pm to 8:00pm.

“Trick or Treat” at Eastwood Field is a fun and safe way to celebrate Halloween for children age 12 and under.  Ticket quantities are limited and are available on a first come first served basis. Children and adults will require a ticket. Tickets are just $1 each and are available starting Monday, September 23rd at the Scrappers Team Office located at Eastwood Field.

The Scrappers are looking for area businesses to participate in this year’s “Trick or Treat” event. Businesses will receive table space on the Eastwood Field concourse.  This is a community event and a great way to promote your business to the public.  Early reservations are encouraged as space is limited. Please contact Annie Stoltenberg for complete details by calling 330-505-0000 or emailing astoltenberg@mvscrappers.com.

Phantoms Piccinich Earns USHL Offensive Player of The Week Award

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JJ Piccinich continued the red-hot start to his sophomore season over the weekend, scoring three goals in a pair of road games in Iowa. The USHL took notice Monday, naming the Youngstown Phantoms forward its CCM Offensive Player.

This is the first time that Piccinich, who is currently ranked second in the USHL with six goals in as many games, has captured the league’s weekly honor.

“This is a tremendous testament to our league and a tremendous testament to JJ and the time he’s put into developing and becoming a better, more complete hockey player,” head coach Anthony Noreen said. “We’ve always known the goal-scoring was there, but his overall game has really developed and I think that’s why we’re seeing the early scoring output.”

Piccinich, 17, racked up three goals and added an assist as the Phantoms went winless over a short two-game road trip, dropping a 4-3 contest to the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders Friday and falling to the Waterloo Black Hawks 6-3 Saturday. The Paramus, N.J. native tallied a pair of goals Friday, including his league-leading fourth on the power play in the loss to the rival RoughRiders. The following night, Piccinich picked up the Phantoms’ first tally Saturday and grabbed a helper on rookie Maxim Letunovthird goal of the season later in the game.

YSU’s Chelsey Haney Named Horizon League Offensive Player of The Week

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Youngstown State junior forward Chelsey Haney has been named the Horizon League Women’s Soccer Offensive Player of the Week, the league announced on Monday.  This is Haney’s first player-of-the-week honor of her career and the first award for the Penguins this season.

The last Youngstown State player to earn offensive player-of-the-week laurels was Rachel Morrison in 2012.

Haney scored the game-winning goal to lift the Penguins to a 2-1 victory of Green Bay on Oct. 5 at Farmers National Bank Field.

Haney fired six shots at the Phoenix, including four on goal. Her goal came on a breakaway on the left side of the box and powered a shot into the top right corner at the 51:31 mark

Haney, 2012 All-Horizon Leauge Second-Team and All-Newcomer Team choice, has scored two goals this season and both have been game-winners.

The Penguins (3-8-1, 1-1 Horizon League) visit Oakland (4-7-1, 0-2), Saturday, Oct. 12, at 7 p.m.

Youngstown State Off To A 2-0 Conference Start, 35-24 Road Winnners

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Youngstown State continued attempting to make believers out of skeptics on Saturday.    The Penguins won the turnover count, ultimately resulting in winning the game against Indiana State, 35-24 to raise the record to 5-1 and 2-0 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference standings.

Martin Ruiz, who has emerged as the feature back, continued his consistent production as he scored three times from 44, 13, and six yards out.  Ruiz would finish the game with 141 of YSU’s 196 rushing yards on 23 carries.

The turning point of the game was a 95-yard interception return for a touchdown by Jameel Smith (below).  Indiana State was threatening to take the lead when Smith picked off Mike Perish and went almost the length of the entire field to completely kill the Sycamores momentum and giving the Penguins a 14-3 lead.

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The Penguins were ahead 21-10 at the half when the weather got ugly.  A thunderstorm rolled through and would delay the game 75 minutes.

After the lengthy delay, Kurt Hess found Christian Bryan for a two yard score that would increase the Penguin lead to 35-10.  Hess played his consistent brand of football for the Guins not turning the ball over and making plays while protecting the ball.  He would finish the game with 14 completions in 23 attempts for 164 yards.

Hess also reached yet another milestone.  Needing only five yards entering the game, he broke a record held by Tom Zetts for passing yards and total offense.

Indiana State racked up some yards as the Penguins were giving small yardage in exchange for clock in the fourth quarter.

Perish, the Sycamore quarterback, entered the game boasting the best passing game in the conference, but when a team is 1-4, many yards get compiled in late game situations when you are trailing.  He would finish the game with 392 yards and three touchdowns.

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Highly touted running back, Shakir Bell, was held in check by a stingy Penguins run defense.  Bell would finish the contest with seven carries for 17 yards and didn’t even lead the Sycamores in rushes.

Next up for YSU (5-1, 2-0) is Illinois State.  The Redbirds defeated Western Illinois 35-21 to even their conference record at 1-1.  The home game will mark the first time during the Eric Wolford era that a YSU team will be riding a two game road winning streak.

#22 YSU vs Indiana State Preview

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Two seasons ago, Youngstown State University (4-1, 1-0) learned what Indiana State’s Shakir Bell was all about as he racked up over 250 rushing yards in the game, mostly in the first half.  Bell reached a milestone, going over the 4,000 yard career plateau last week in a heartbreaking loss.

Last season, Youngstown State finished the season on a high note, defeating the Sycamores at home in the season finale, 27-6.

Notable in last season’s win was the absence of Bell in the first half.  Some sources say Bell was held out because he was injured, which is inaccurate.  Bell was withheld from starting the game for disciplinary reasons.  He was plenty healthy when he ran the ball 18 times for 54 yards.

For the Penguins to win, the biggest key to a victory is to shut Bell down, period.  Mike Sanford, in his first season at the helm for the Sycamores is a smart enough coach to know where the ISU bread is buttered.

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The Penguins have to utilize the momentum they built in the second half comeback last week against a very hard-nosed Southern Illinois team.  Kurt Hess has to continue to protect the ball and make smart decisions.  The Penguins defense, led by captains Dom Rich and Donald D’Alesio will have to stay focused on shutting Bell down and playing with the same intensity that they used in the second half last week.

If the Penguins are successful in neutralizing Bell to some extent, they will have succeeded in taking Indiana State out of their comfort zone and will dictate the tempo of the game.

The Penguins last started MVFC play 2-0 in 2006 when they went on to win their first three contests. In the previous 16 years, YSU has opened Valley play 2-0 on four previous occasions – 1999, 2000, 2005 and 2006. It was a combined 20-6 in league play those years.

YSU Makes Halftime Adjustments And Rally, 28-27

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.