Posts Tagged ‘Christian Bryan’

How Long Will It Take To Fill The Kurt Hess Void?


Entering 2014, Shane Montgomery faces a big challenge – make Youngstown State’s lethal offense click.  The biggest problem with that plan is that Kurt Hess has graduated and can’t play as a Penguin anymore.

The leading replacements for the newly vacated starting quarterback position are a junior,  Dante Nania, and a sophomore, Tanner Gary.  Both were backups last year and both played when Hess missed a game-and-a-half with injuries.  The games they appeared in were both losses.  Nick Wargo and Ricky Davis were also on the Spring roster – lots of competition, lots of choices.

Montgomery is an offensive guru.  He can call plays and read defenses from the press box with the best of them.  He will be a head coach again within the next few years. Unfortunately, he has his work cut out this season – his fifth with the Penguins.  In his first four seasons, Montgomery had Hess – a luxury for any offensive coordinator.

Hess, for the most part, protected the ball and controlled the offense – two of the biggest tasks a quarterback is asked to do.  He hit some rough patches, especially in his junior season, but all-in-all, was the heart and soul of the YSU offense.


Nania and Gary may develop, with experience, into the type of signal caller geared to run Montgomery’s offense.  Whomever Montgomery and Head Coach Eric Wolford decide on – they will have the luxury of growing into the role after the Illinois opener. The next three YSU games are against Duquesne, Butler, and Saint Francis before heading into league play.

Some of the things the future quarterback will have going for himself will be the return of Jelani Berassa, Nate Adams, Christian Bryan, Michael Wheary, and a full-blown running game with established backs in Martin Ruiz and Jody Webb.

Unfortunately, college athletics end for everyone in the same limited time span of four seasons of eligibility (minus redshirts and medical problems).  YSU will have to go through a little growing spell at QB.  An improved defense and established base offense should help the new quarterback, whoever wins the job,  mature faster.

Penguins “Snowballed” By South Dakota State


Youngstown State University closed out their regular season losing its last three games including a 42-13 setback to South Dakota State.  The Ice Castle could have been called the Snow Globe as the flakes fell hard making vision a challenge.  Now all YSU can do is sit back and hope that a selection committee deems them good enough to make the postseason field.

“We congratulate South Dakota State.”, said coach Eric Wolford.  “We had no control at the line of scrimmage.  They were much more efficient than us on third down.  At this point we have to hope that finishing third in the conference, unfortunately it is out of our hands.  As of last week, we were eleventh in overall rating.”

Zach Zenner seemed unaffected by the inclement weather.  Zenner shredded the YSU defense for 186 yards on 29 carries for the Jackrabbits.

South Dakota State (8-4) marched the opening drive 81 yards in seven plays capped off by a Reggie Gandy 22-yard scamper.

The Penguins got a break when a Nick Liste punt hit a South Dakota State blocker.  The Penguins recovered the live ball and went 20 yards in six plays to score the apparent game-tying touchdown.  However, Christian Bryan was not on the field for the extra point, and the problem was that he had taken over as the holder on PAT’s since Dante Nania was sidelined.  After colliding with a referee, Bryan was in position, but the play was rushed and the kick was blocked.


In the second quarter, Zenner (above) scored twice on runs of three and six yards that would stretch the South Dakota State lead to 21-6.

YSU closed the gap on a nice play-action pass from Kurt Hess to Martin Ruiz that covered 63 yards to close the gap to 21-13.  South Dakota State managed to put up another touchdown before half that made it 28-13.

In the second half, the YSU defense did a much better job on Zenner but Austin Sumner became the new headache.  Sumner was clutch on a drive that made the score 35-13.  The SDS quarterback ran a draw on a third-and-goal at the YSU seven-yard line and scored untouched.

“It starts on the line of scrimmage”, said Wolford.  “The teams we played the last two weeks control the line of scrimmage.  They did a great job on third down.  I didn’t sense a lack of energy, I did see a bunch of missed tackles.  Anytime you are playing against a Zenner, you can’t miss tackles.”

The Penguins, down 22, had a drive stall at the Jackrabbit 42 to end the third quarter.


The fourth quarter was merely a formality for both teams.  South Dakota State hit a 33-yard pass to get to the YSU four-yard line with just over twelve minutes left in the game.  Two plays later, Zenner scored off-tackle to make it 42-13.

The Penguins just didn’t have it Saturday.  No answer for the South Dakota State running game.  No holes for Ruiz (from Florida) to run through, and Hess closing out his Penguin career running for his life.

If the score of this game is something the playoff selection group looks at, YSU looks to be done until 2014.

“This senior class has gone through a lot of changes.  We had some big wins, including a win against Pitt.  They have been up and down.  It’s disappointing that the seniors do things right on an off of the field.  I want to see them be able to continue”, said Wolford.

However, if the committee looks at the quality wins the Penguins(8-4) have posted (South Dakota, Illinois State) and their overall position in the strongest conference in the FCS, they may get the invite.

“We played well in this conference and we are in third place.  If this is the hardest conference, we should get in”, said Hess.  “It isn’t the way we needed to take care of business.”

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


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.

YSU Starts With A Win Over Dayton, 28-10


Youngstown State kicked off the 2013 campaign with a 28-10 victory over a scrappy Dayton team.  The defense did a great job of shutting down an experienced spread offense.  The offense looked a bit out of sync, but put together drives when they needed to.  Adaris Bellamy rattled off 203 rushing yards on just 17 carries.

“It is always good to get a win”, said coach Eric Wolford.  “We played very sloppy at times, we had some turnovers and a penalty that hurt us.  We did things, but we have to play better than we did tonight.”

Youngstown State established a strong ground game in the first half by picking up 176 rushing yards.  The Flyers were only able to pick up 27 yards on 16 first half carries.  Andre Stubbs (below) had 2 carries for 66 yards, most of it coming on a 60-yard scamper before the half.

Torrian Pace scored a pair of first half touchdowns.  The first touchdown, from two yards out, came on the Penguins opening drive which covered 75 yards on 15 plays.

Pace again scored for the Penguins with 2:33 left in the first half to stake the Guins to a 14-0 halftime lead.  The eight-yard touchdown was set up by the 60-yard run from Stubbs.


In the second half, Dayton got on the scoreboard as Stubbs fumbled a punt.  The Penguins defense did not allow much penetration, keeping Dayton out of the red zone, and the Flyers had to settle on a 37-yard field goal by William Will.

Bellamy took over on the Penguins next possession.  Bellamy dashed for 30 yards on a first-and-ten from the Flyers 40-yard line.  He got the ball on the next two carries and plunged into the end zone from three yards out at the 6:08 mark of the third quarter.  The touchdown by Bellamy made it 21-3 in favor of the Penguins.

“I felt good coming back, but don’t want to say it felt too good, as we were inconsistent and have to do a better job as a running back core.  We can do better”, said Bellamy.

Kurt Hess (below) did a good job controlling the flow of the game.  Hess, however, did not have his best night ever passing the football.  The senior quarterback threw a first half pick and looked to be on a different page than his receivers at times.  Hess did manage to complete 8-18 passes for 68 yards.


Down 21-3, the Flyers engineered their best offensive drive of the game.  Quarterback Will Bardo found Robert Washington from 19 yards out to cut the Penguins lead to 21-10.

On the next Penguin possession, Hess was picked off by Matt Blanco at the Penguin 48-yard line.  Blanco returned the interception 36 yards to the YSU 12-yard line.  The Penguins defense was faced with a first-and-goal from the three.  Kyle Sirl made back-to-back tackles for no gain and a third and goal pass was incomplete.  On fourth and goal, Bardo tried to pass rolling right but was intercepted by Ali Cheaib.  The Penguins took over after the impressive goal line stand, a definite momentum killer.

“We blitzed the edge”, revealed Cheaib.  “I adjusted my course and when he threw it, I was able to change my course and come up with it.  The goal line stand was big because we showed we can make some plays on defense.  We kept encouraging each other to stop them and not let them score and we came up big.”

The Penguins put an exclamation point on the win when Bellamy broke an 80-yard run on third-and-one and got caught on the three.  The drive was punctuated on Martin Ruiz’s first ever touchdown that made it 28-10 with 6:58 to go in the game.

The most impressive part of this victory was the job that the Penguins defense did against a potent spread offense.  Excluding a drive that the Flyers scored on in the third quarter, Coach Tresey conducted quite a performance with a young defense.  There was constant pressure on Bardo, who proved to be very elusive.


The Penguins did plenty on the ground, finishing the game with 348 yards on 40 carries.  Bellamy had 203 yards on 17 carries.  Bellamy only had 129 yards in the whole 2012 season which was cut short by injury.  Pace added 47 yards on 11 carries.

For the Flyers, Bardo had a nice game and looked every bit the leader of the experienced Flyer spread offense.  He finished the game 17-33 for 172 yards.  He will have a good season for Dayton.

Nick Liste boomed punts of 62 and 64 yards that helped YSU in the battle of field position.

“I think I had a 69 yarder at Missouri, but that was in 40 mile an hour wind gusts, so it wasn’t so legit.  Credit the blocking that gave me time to use the proper mechanics to kick the ball”, comment Liste.

“You saw what a weapon Nick Liste is tonight”, remarked Wolford.  “He had two huge punts for us tonight and a good kickoff that they {Dayton} tried to bring out, but we were able to swarm them.  I was unhappy with the botched fair catch, and we have to work on eliminating those mistakes.”


YSU Football: Camp Closes, Depth Chart Solidified


Saturday’s practice marked the end of camp for the Youngstown State football team. The Penguins open the campaign hosting the Dayton Flyers on Thursday.  They will now transition into a weekly routine… sort of.

“Today was like a Tuesday practice because we are only that many days from Thursday already”, said Penguins Head Coach, Eric Wolford.

“I gave the guys a day off yesterday and we were out here banging pretty good today, but this will be the end of the banging until Thursday.”

Wolford and staff have solidified their depth chart to start the season.  Kurt Hess remains the number one quarterback and will have Torrian Pace (below) and Adaris Bellamy lining up behind him as backfield starters.

The wide receivers to start will be Andre Stubbs, Christian Bryan, and Michael Wheary.  Jelani Berassa, coming back from major surgery, will get some reps on a limited basis in the opener.  Kevin Watts, Marcel Caver, and Andrew Williams are listed as the second group of receivers.

“Whether or not I start or play, we are unselfish and unified as a team.  In order for us to be successful, we must remain selfless”, said Pace.


Up front, preseason All-Conference pick, Chris Elkins, anchors a raw offensive line at center.  Wolford has repeatedly said that this is the most athletic offensive line he has had to work with since he got here.  The rest of the offensive line named as starters are Andrew Sinko and Kyle Bryant at tackle, Brock Eisenhuth and Fred Herdman at guard and Nate Adams and Carson Sharbaugh to pretty much interweave at TE.

Joey Cejudo offers a very strong leg as the Penguins placekicker.  Even though seven is greater than three, Wolford seems like he is comfortable with Cejudo and will use him more than he has used a kicker in the past few seasons.  Nick Liste resumes his duties as the punter and kickoff specialist.

Stubbs and Bryan will return punts and kicks to round out the special teams for the Penguins.

Defensively, Joe Tresey (below) has the defensive units working in the right direction. Tresey is one of the most animated and vocal coaches I have had the pleasure of watching and to his credit, never quits coaching.  After practice on Saturday, Tresey was out there running suicides with his defense after practice.  He is a stand-up guy who is accountable and accepts when all is less than perfect as his responsibility.


Teven Williams, Travis Williams, and Dom Rich comprise the most experienced and battle-tested part of the defense at the linebacker spots.  Ali Cheaib should see some time as well.

Up front, Terrell Williams and Eric Myers will start at the defensive end spots. Emmanuel Kromah will be the tackle, and Octavius Brown will start at nose.  D. J. Moss is a little banged up but should see action at nose for the ‘Guins on Thursday. Kyle Sirl, the Penguins wildcard on defense can line up just about anywhere and contribute.

The question marks that raise the biggest concern are the secondary spots.  Donald D’Alesio was banged up for most of camp but is working hard to get into game shape and is listed on the depth chart as the #1 strong safety.

“I’m not a hundred percent yet, but getting real close to it”, said D’Alesio.  “We have had a great camp and we are really looking forward to hitting someone else besides our own guys.”

Jamarious Boatwright is still a little wobbly but closing in on a return.  While he mends, Jameel Smith will handle the work at free safety.  Julius Childs and DeVon McKoy (below) will start at the cornerback positions.


McKoy, a transfer from Bowling Green, has had to learn the Penguins defense at a rapid clip.  The capable native of Columbus has met the challenge head-on and is excited with the opportunity.

“Right away, when I got here, I was thrown into the mix”, said McKoy.  “When I talked on the phone with the coaches, they told me there would be opportunities to step right in and here it is.  They threw me right into the fire, and I still have some little technique things to brush up on, but I am very excited with this chance.”

Wolford said that the coaching staff did something different in the locker room setup that he hopes will help keep the team unified.

“A lot of people don’t know that we arranged the locker room differently this season. We tried to put people from different positions next to each other, guys that would not normally talk much are now next to each other in the locker room.  I like the move in the sense that it has strengthened the unity of the guys and really helped them grow as teammates.”

YSU Awakens Too Late And Loses 41-28 To South Dakota State


Going into South Dakota State, Eric Wolford knew that his Youngstown State team needed to play a better second half to win.  The Penguins (4-4, 1-4) outscored the Jackrabbits, 21-6 in the second half.  The problem was that South Dakota State had built a 35-7 halftime lead that proved to be too much of a deficit to overcome, as the Jackrabbits extended the nightmares for the Penguins with a 41-28 win.

In the first half, SDSU quarterback Austin Sumner threw touchdown passes to four different receivers.  Zach Zenner scored the other touchdown on an eight yard run.  The Jackrabbits really turned the momentum when they intercepted a Kurt Hess pass in the end zone with under two minutes remaining in the half. Sumner marched his team right down the field and finished the drive when he found Jason Scneider with just three seconds of play left in the half.

Hess scored the Penguins lone first half touchdown on a 15-yard run to the right pylon.  The junior quarterback had two touchdown passes in the second half, giving him 50 for his career.  He only needs one more to tie the record for career touchdown passes at Youngstown State.  Hess finished the game 25-42 for 270 yards with two touchdowns and two picks.


The Penguins gave up another touchdown on the first offensive play of the second half for the Jackrabbits.  Sumner found Aaron Rollin on a post for a 49-yard touchdown to make the score 41-7.

The Penguins then showed a lot of heart and tried to at least make a game of it.  Hess found Christian Bryan and Will Shaw for scores.  In between the two touchdown passes, the Penguins got a defensive touchdown when Aronde Stanton ended up with a tipped ball and rumbled 19 yards to keep hope alive for the rejuvenated Penguins.

Shaw had his best day as a receiver for the Penguins.  The senior TE finished the game with 10 catches for 120 yards to lead all receivers.  Jamaine Cook, who was only really used in the first quarter-and-a-half, finished with 19 carries for 80 yards.

The playoff hopes of the Penguins took a big hit with the loss.  However, they can still get in as long as they win the next two and knock off Indiana State in the finale.  Indiana State won again Saturday and the Penguins would want them to win the next two weeks also.

Penguins End Northern Iowa Drought With Dramatic 42-35 Win


Youngstown State University entered their game with Northern Iowa 1-0 when there was a rain delay (Pitt).  YSU also entered the game riding an 11-game losing streak to UNI. When the clouds yielded, the teams were both granted 45 minutes to stretch out and warm up before the kickoff.  The delay lasted 45 minutes and about 3/4 of the announced crowd of 19,277 (largest in Stambaugh Stadium history) was noisy.  When the smoke cleared, the Penguins ended the losing streak and kept the rain-delay streak alive with a dramatic 42-35 win over Northern Iowa.

The Penguins stopped a last-minute threat by the Panthers offense to preserve the win and improve to 4-0 and 1-0 in MVFC play.  NIU had the ball at the YSU 11 and a fourth down pass to the end zone resulted in an incompletion.  YSU Coach Eric Wolford said they noticed NIU would run a pick play.

“We saw it on films and told the refs to look for it at some critical juncture in the game”, said Wolford.

“Our crowd proved to be a difference and that is what we expect around here.”, remarked Eric Wolford.  “Right now we are 4-0 on all of our assignments, the guy upstairs is watching out for us.”


Youngstown State took the opening kickoff and put together a drive filled with a little of everything.  There was a reverse, a dive, a couple of tight end pass-plays out of tight formations, an option, a sweep, and a touchdown too.  Jamaine Cook capped off the Shane Montgomery masterpiece at the 10:00 mark of the first quarter.  The twelve-play drive covered 73 yards.

On Northern Iowa’s first possession, the Panthers struck on a 32-yard pass play to tie the game.  After converting a third down, Sawyer Kollmorgen hit Terrell Sinkfield with a bubble screen on the left hash.  Sinkfield caught the ten yard pass and made a nifty move through the Penguins secondary on the touchdown.  The 7-play, 77-yard drive  gave the impression that both offenses were better than the other teams defenses.

Kurt Hess and the offense took the ball on their own twenty to start their second drive.  The offense traveled 80 yards on five plays, with the score coming on a nice 38-yard pass play.  Hess faked a reverse and found Andrew Williams on a post pattern.  Williams got a few steps on the defense and Hess hit the 6’2″ redshirt freshman in stride.


With 9:26 left in the first half, the Penguins increased their lead to 21-7.  Nate Adams, the third tight end on the YSU depth chart, caught his first-ever touchdown pass to cap off another diverse effort by the YSU offense.  At this point in the game, Hess had completions to nine different receivers.

“To see those guys [Williams and Adams] get in the end zone is great. “, said Hess.  “They both work very hard in practice and it was nice to see those two get into the end zone tonight.  I always miss Drew and was very happy to find him in the end zone tonight.”

With :27 seconds left in the half, Kollmorgen found David Johnson for a five yard strike.  The touchdown cut the lead to seven points and YSU was content with that lead to kneel out the ball to end the first half.

In the second half, UNI returned the kickoff to the 50.  Johnson would score again three plays into the half when he took in a short slant route and danced his way around would-be tacklers like pylons and then hit the afterburners outracing everyone to the end zone.

Johnson continued to torch the Penguins. With 8:59 left in the third quarter he broke a 23-yard run that gave the Panthers their first lead of the day.  Johnson’s run capped a 64-yard scoring drive that only took six plays and gave UNI a 28-21 lead.

On a fourth-and-two, the Penguins gambled.  Hess faked a handoff on the NIU 45 and then stepped back to find Will Shaw streaking down the right sideline for a 43-yard score.  The touchdown not only tied the game but also gave the Penguins defense a much-needed boost of momentum.

“We are not afraid to go for the big play on fourth down”, said Wolford.  “Youngstown has had hard times.  We play for this university, and I have a great coaching staff.  It is a great situation we are in, but we must remain humble.  Our mindset is to play 15 or 16 games.  Our kids realize that.  You can’t be conservative though and I wasn’t going to be conservative at that moment.”

Jeremy Edwards ended a threatening UNI drive when he picked off an out route on a third down play.  The Penguins were unable to cash the turnover in for any points and ended up punting.


The Johnson show continued when UNI’s 6’3″ sophomore ran another in, his fourth of the game, from 16 yards away.  The touchdown came with 12:42 left in the game and gave UNI a big 35-28 lead.

Torrian Pace pulled the Penguins back into a 35-35 tie when he plunged in from a yard out capping a drive that spanned 5:28.  A Hess to Shaw pass on a fourth and four that put the ball on the UNI three was the play that made the drive work.

The Penguins regained possession with 5:51 left in the game.  What happened from there was season-defining.  The Penguins drove the ball 69 yards in eight plays.  The drive was capped by a great pass from Hess to Christian Bryan for a 26-yard score.  The touchdown put the Penguins ahead 42-35 with 1:50 left in the game.

For the Penguins, Hess was 20-28 for 290 yards and four touchdowns.  Shaw hauled in five of the Hess balls for 95 yards and a touchdown.  Cook carried the ball 32 times for 147 yards and a touchdown.

Northern Iowa got a great game from Kollmorgen who rallied his team back almost every time they fell behind.  He finished the game 23-38 for 333 yards and three touchdowns.

Johnson gave the YSU defense fits with 6 catches for 76 yards and 17 carries for 87 yards and a total of four touchdowns.

Perhaps the biggest hero of the game was Donald D’Alesio.  D’Alesio sat out most of last year with injuries, but has been a solid performer since he returned.  He had in a hand in five pass breakups in this game including the final threat.

“There is no doubt that it felt good to contribute”, said D’Alesio.  “I owed these guys that much.”

YSU Rolls Valparaiso, 59-0, In Home Opener


It was like watching my grandmother play Yahtzee with seven dice instead of five.  It was so out of hand by the half that the pee-wee continuous clock theory may have been a viable option.  To put it mildly, it was a total mismatch.  Youngstown State scored early and often in pounding Valparaiso, 59-0, to open the home portion of their schedule.

“It was good to see our kids come out focused after last week “, said Coach Wolford.  “We brought in Reverend Louis Macklin.  He said we are on assignment.  On assignment for the community, the program, and the university.  The assignment is to go 1-0 every week.”

YSU got on the scoreboard at the 13-minute mark of the first quarter when Kurt Hess connected with Christian Bryan for a 12-yard touchdown (next photo down).  The Penguins drive covered 65 yards in just five plays.  Hess connected with Kintrell Disher for nine and 20 yard completions on the drive.

Ali Cheaib blocked a punt on the ensuing Valpo possession.  The block was recovered by Ricardo Dixon at the Crusaders 11-yard line.  Hess then found Will Shaw for an 11-yard strike to put the Penguins ahead 14-0.


Next Valpo possession, the revamped YSU defense roared again when Travis Williams forced a fumble that Jeremy Edwards would scoop up and run seven yards with, to make it 21-0.

In the second quarter, Eric Wolford and staff started getting into the depth chart a bit giving the ones time with the twos.  Torrian Pace rambled in from three yards out to make it 28-0.

“It is always encouraging to see the twos get time with the ones”, commented Wolford.  “We want the twos to be able to blend in with the ones.  We have to continue to be creative.”

Pace talked about playing in these types of games.  “It was a very good day for us offensively.  The O-Line played great.  Overall, we executed and did what we needed to do.  It was a good home opener, but we are taking it one week at a time.  Our approach was to go into this game as if we were playing Pitt.  Every week it has to be like that.”

Jamaine Cook, who saw a short work day with eight carries for 51 yards would plunge in from two yards out with 12:54 remaining in the first half to make it 35-0.

Demond Hymes would be the third YSU running back to hit the stat sheet in the second quarter when he scored from a yard out, increasing the Penguins lead to 42-0.

Pace would again score before halftime on a 14-yard scurry to make it a 49-0 game.


Hess had another productive game, or in this case, a productive first half.  The junior signal-caller was 7-10 for 138 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

David Brown kicked a 27-yard field goal in the third quarter to make it 52-0.  It was obvious that Wolford took his foot off of the gas in the second half.  In the third quarter, Valpo made it across the 50 for the first time in the game.

The Penguins would score one last time to make it a 59-0 when Hymes would cap off a 2:32 yard drive with a 3-yard scamper.

Edwards, a defensive leader, commented on the defense posting it’s first shutout since 2009, a 28-0 win at Indiana State.

“It is a 24-hour rule, but we are a confident group and we will be ready for next week.  I wasn’t aware of the shutout being that long ago.”

Patrick Angle got some time at QB for the Penguins.  Angle started the second half and was 5-7 for 45 yards before yielding to Dante Nania for the last couple of Penguins drives.


To put the game into perspective, Valpo collects about $70,000.00 for coming to Youngstown State.  It is a tier-two money beating.  Youngstown State collected $400k last week on the visit to Pittsburgh, so the shoe was completely on the other foot this week.

YSU will have a similar contest next week when they face Albany.  The attitude will be business as usual and the Penguins will not take anyone lightly.  Wolford will surely get more reps for both, the offense and the defense, as a big challenge looms the following week when Northern Iowa comes to Youngstown to open Missouri Valley Football Conference play.

YSU Upsets Pitt, 31-17, Football Fever Is Back In The Valley!


The Youngstown State University football team was last at Heinz Field in 2009.  In that contest, the goal was to score and make it to the bus with half the team able to walk.  The result was a 38-3 beating.  Fast forward to 2012, Eric Wolford‘s first shot at the Panthers.

The Penguins recovered an early fumble, marched the field, and never trailed in a 31-17 dismantling of D-I Pittsburgh in what can be considered the biggest win in the Wolford Era.  Kurt Hess looked masterful in running an offense everyone thought could produce, but it was the defense that played with a chip on their shoulders and forced the issue in the upset.

The game was delayed by inclement weather for a half hour, but when it finally started, it was obvious that YSU was in Pittsburgh to do more than take a check home and hopefully score some points.

“We expect to win”, said Wolford.  “This win is a compliment to our staff, our players, and the community.  We demand perfection, coach hard, and know it is a high standard at YSU, to win championships.”

In the first quarter, with the Panthers driving, the YSU defense did something that it hasn’t done in one of these D-I games, create a turnover.  Pitt’s Ray Graham was tackled by YSU’s Dubem Nwadiogbu, who popped the ball out.  Jeremy Edwards picked the pigskin up and advanced it a few yards before YSU’s offense would take the field.


Kurt Hess (above) and the Penguin offense went to work and put together a productive 10-play, 79-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown.  Hess found Andre Stubbs on a short route that the redshirt freshman turned into a 27-yard touchdown reception.  With the extra point, the Penguins took a 7-0 lead.

Pitt would respond with a touchdown of their own on their next drive when Isaac Bennett capped off an 11-play, 75-yard drive with a four-yard rush to paydirt.  Early in the drive, Pitt QB Tino Sunseri made a good pass to Devin Street on a 3rd-and-8 to keep the drive going.

The resilient Penguins would march again, this time covering 92 yards in 15 plays.  Shane Montgomery, the Penguins offensive coordinator, did a fantastic job of calling plays that kept the Pitt defense on their heels all afternoon.  The Penguins touchdown was a nice 14-yard strike from Hess to Will Shaw to give YSU a 14-7 lead.

“The play calling was great”, said Hess.  “It was a very efficient game plan and we were able to execute it.”

Pitt would drive again, but had to settle for a Kevin Harper 33-yard field goal.  That would make the score at the end of the first half YSU 14 and Pitt 10.


In the second half, YSU took the opening kickoff and marched down the field, aided by a 15-yard facemask penalty.  On a fourth-and -1 play on the Pitt 24, YSU went to the bag of tricks and Jamaine Cook took a pitch to the right side and backed up to fire a little pass to Shaw, who had nobody ten yards around him, for an easy six.  David Brown‘s extra point gave the Penguins a 21-10 lead.

“That play is called Penguin”, explained Wolford.  “We practiced it this week and knew we would use it when we  had a chance on a fourth-and-short situation.”

What happened on Pitt’s next drive may define the Penguins season.  The defense stuffed Pitt on a fourth-and-1 deep in YSU territory.  It was Tevin Williams and Travis Williams stuffing the play to give the Penguins the ball back with 5:55 remaining in the third quarter.

“Anytime it’s fourth down, on either side of the ball, it is a big play,” said senior Aronde Stanton.  “On the play we stuffed them, I was out with cramps and two sophomores stepped in and got the job done.”

From there, Montgomery used Hess to carry out a drive that would cover 78 yards, but more importantly, result in a touchdown that would kill 8:34 of the game clock and boost the Penguins lead to 28-10.  The drive ended when Stubbs gathered his second touchdown of the game, a 13-yard run.


When Pitt got the ball back they used several short plays in hurry-up mode and looked in a hurry to get all 18 points they trailed by throwing some unsuccessful deep balls.  Tino Sunseri missed an open receiver in the end zone by a bit.  On the next play, YSU hurried Sunseri to set up a third-and-10.  The senior quarterback would connect with Joshua Brinson to cut the deficit to 28-17.

With control of the game, the Penguins got the ball back on their 25 with 9:17 left to play.  The YSU offense had to chew clock and get a few first downs.  Facing a 3rd-and-4 with six minutes left, the Penguins Stubbs broke loose and took the ball all the way to the Pitt 22.  Wolford the starting doing exactly what he said he would do – substitute fresh capable bodies.  Torrian Pace was inserted and had two five yard runs.

The drive stalled and YSU settled for a FG from Brown, a 25-yarder that would close the scoring with YSU ahead 31-17.

“We all thought we could do this”, said Stubbs.  “I knew coming in that I would have a chance to make some plays.  We have to stay humble now because we still have ten games to play.”

Stubbs finished the game with six carries for 71 yards and four receptions for 61 yards with one touchdown in each category.

“Andre Stubbs was too short for most schools to recruit”, said Wolford.  “We don’t recruit based on size, we look at the films.”

Hess had a strong game, more than statistically, as a leader of a machine.  Hess finished the game 13-23 for 154 yards and a pair of TD’s.  He also had 9 rushes for 47 yards and just made good decisions for four quarters.

Dale Peterman had nine unassisted tackles for the Penguins.  Teven Williams chipped in with seven tackles.  The Penguins defense did a fantastic job of keeping the Ray Graham / Isaac Bennett combination in check for the majority of the game.  New defensive coordinator Jm Tresey also deserves credit for being aggressive and cleverly scheming against Pitt.

“Obviously, we’re disappointed in the outcome of the game”, said first year Pitt head coach Paul Chryst.  “My hat goes off to Youngstown State.  They are very well coached and tonight they were the better team.”

The Penguins will have their home opener next Saturday when they welcome Valparaiso to Stambaugh Stadium.  Kickoff is set for 4 p.m.