Posts Tagged ‘Eric Wolford’
On a November-like Friday night, Eric Wolford rolled out the early signs of what to expect in 2013, and it may not have been what people would have guessed. The Red got the best of the White in the 41st Annual Spring Football Game, 17-10.
Defense has been echoed as the weakness since Wolford started at YSU. However, the effort of both defenses was the glaring improvement to give even the biggest pessimist in the barn a pitchfork to help find that buried needle.
“Our defense has been a work in progress and it is a compliment to our coaches that they came out and played the way they did today”, said Wolford. ”Everyone knows that in any sport, you can’t win a championship without a good defense, and that is what we have been working toward.”
Coach Wolford was loose and joked with everyone before the game. I got to descend from the press box to the 1st floor with the coach on the elevator, and he was in great spirits and very optimistic about both, the game, and the 2013 season. During the scrimmage, he applauded the effort of seemingly everyone who played at some point.
As far as the game goes, the Red jumped out to a 10-3 lead at the half. Demond Hymes plunged in from two yards out to put the Red ahead, 7-0. The score was set up when Derek Rivers caught a tipped ball off of a Dante Nania attempt.
New kicker, Joey Cejudo, accounted for the rest of the first half scoring kicking a field goal for each team. Cejudo’s first attempt was good from 43 yards out and gave the Red team a 10-0 lead.
Cejudo then put the White team on the scoreboard with a 43-yard field goal. Could it be a year of field goals?
“I was trying to give him some advice about kicking field goals”, joked honorary coach, Dr. Chet Cooper. ”The kickers did a good job tonight and I think I have him convinced to go for three instead of seven sometimes.”
In the second half, the Red team increased their lead to 17-3 when Aaron Edwards scooped up a fumble and raced 22 yards to the end zone. Tyler Hogan kicked the PAT for the Red team.
Dale Peterman made a big play at around midfield for the White defensive unit. Peterman drilled Hymes on a completion, knocking the ball loose. Jamarious Boatwright pounced on the pigskin and the White team was back in business.
The White team would capitalize on the turnover and cut the lead to 17-10 with 5:02 left to play. Nick Wargo capped the drive with a six-yard toss to Justin Getz.
With two minutes left, the YSU video board was switched to the news of the second terrorist of the Boston Marathon being alive and now in police custody. As I looked to the video board, I saw the flag flying at half mast, and realized that there are things beyond our control that change priorities.
The Red team used the continuous clock to their advantage as they were able to run the clock out and head to the locker room victorious.
“We have stressed competition” commented Wolford. ”When they had bad days, we make changes and wake them up. As soon as a player starts to feel to good about himself, he will get complacent and take a step backwards. So we stress to do the extra things that can make a player special.”
The Youngstown State football team learned their postseason fate on Sunday afternoon, and it was not good news. The Penguins were not awarded an at-large bid by the FCS Selection Committee.
Credit the coaches and team for picking up the pieces and making an exciting run by winning their last three games of the season.
The 7-4 season, which most programs would relish, was not enough.
October was a disaster for this team. In my opinion, the real problem started in September. On September 22, the Penguins won a game many thought they could not, defeating Northern Iowa to run their record to 4-0.
After wins against Pitt, Valparaiso, Albany, and Northern Iowa, the Penguins were forced to hibernate for a week. September 29th was a bye week. Some saw the bye week as an advantage to better prepare for North Dakota State the following week, but the bye week may have took the sharpness out of the tack.
The next four contests were ugly as YSU got hammered in Fargo. The next three games, all losses, dropped the Penguins to 4-4. The resiliency of the football team shined through with wins over South Dakota and Western Illinois (mostly everyone else in the league got to play these two teams also). The crescendo of the season may have been on the final day, as the Penguins seemed to do everything right in defeating Indiana State.
Dom Rich may have said it best after the game.
“If we get in, we will not lose a game”, said Rich. ”We are playing our best football right now.”
Coach Eric Wolford knew that winning the last three games would still not regain control of the Penguins own destiny and that their fate would be determined by other teams results and voters opinions.
Wolford thought the win over Pitt should carry the weight of two wins, as a win over any FBS team should. The YSU coach was confident that his Penguins would be given strong consideration.
The reality of being excluded was the automatic bids. Teams from less talented conferences got a team in, ten of the twenty altogether. That left two at-large bids going to Illinois State and South Dakota State from the MVFC. It is a rare feat for a conference to put four teams into that small of a field.
Unseeded at-large bids went to Appalachian State, Cal Poly, Illinois State, New Hampshire, Sam Houston State, South Dakota State, Stony Brook and Wofford.
Trevor Parks, YSU Sports Information Director, and I exchanged texts during the second half of the Penguins game about other teams who would have probably needed to get beat for the Penguins to get in. By the end, just about all of those teams either were winning or had already won.
So suddenly, the season that started with so much hope has elapsed. Coach Cochran will probably have a program in place by December. Linemen will be eating rocks and glass, backs will vow to get bigger, faster, and stronger, and 2013 can be another step forward for a program inching closer to the declared standards of making the playoffs and winning championships.
Youngstown State came into their last regular season game knowing that they had to win against a good Indiana State team to have any chance at all to make the postseason. Taking care of their business to the tune of 27-6, all YSU could do was hope for some help to make the playoffs.
The billing for this game was the matchup of running backs as Jamaine Cook and Shakir Bell, the two anchors of their teams respective offenses. However, field goal kicking took center stage, and nobody would have predicted a David Brown and Tanner Fritschle matchup to determine the outcome of two potent offensive units.
Bell, reportedly, did not start the game for disciplinary reasons. Toward the end of the first quarter, the Sycamores junior tailback emerged from the bench. In the end though, the YSU offense proved to be the best defense against Bell. By building a big lead, the Sycamores were forced to pas more than they normally would like, meaning no Bell to worry about.
Brown booted a 20 yard field goal in the first quarter and a 47-yarder before the half. Fritschle kicked a 30-yard field goal. With the two field goals, Brown put the Penguins ahead, 6-3, at the half.
Fritschle would boot a 32-yard field goal that made it a 6-6 game. Once the Penguins punted on their ensuing possession, the Sycamores drove deep into Penguin territory, but came away with zero points as Donald D’Alesio picked off a pass attempt at the YSU three yard line.
The Penguins would take that possession and turned it into a 97-yard drive that culminated in Kurt Hess throwing a beautiful fade pattern to Andrew Williams with 3:20 remaining in the third period.
With that touchdown pass, Hess’s 52nd, the junior quarterback surpassed Tom Zetts as the Penguins all-time touchdown tosser. In the present, it gave the Penguins a 13-6 lead.
The Penguins controlled all three phases of the game. The special teams were the best they have been all season, and the defense has improved steadily to look as good as they had all year.
“Our conference deserves to have four teams in the playoffs. It is like the SEC at this level. We beat a BCS team [Pitt] and I have always been told that those count as two”, said YSU Coach Eric Wolford.
Coach Wolford was as pleased as he had been with any of the other six Penguin victories.
“I feel confident with our strength of schedule, it will be enough for the committee to take a look at us. Anytime you can hold Bell under 100 yards, it’s a good day for your defense”, commented Wolford.
On their next possession, which started in the the third quarter and went into the 14:18 mark of the fourth, the Penguins scored again to make it 20-6. Cook capped off the short, six-play drive with a 32-yard burst off the left edge.
Once the Penguins went back on defense, they had Indiana State in an obvious passing mode and did a great job preventing anything big from happening. Dom Rich came off the right edge for a big sack on a first down blitz and Mike Perish had two more incompletions before the Sycamores would be forced to punt the ball away again.
“It was my guaranteed last game”, said Cook. ”We wanted to go out with a bang. I will be praying tonight. Anytime you have a winning record, it is a successful season, but we have a standard here to make the playoffs, so it will be bittersweet.”
The Penguins scored on their third consecutive possession when Hess again went deep, finding Williams for the second time. The pitch and catch covered 43 yards and built the lead to 27-6.
“If we do make the playoffs, I don’t think we will lose again, we are absolutely playing our best right now”, said Rich.
Julius Childs accented the defensive effort with an interception, the second of the game for YSU. Going into this game, the Penguins only had two interceptions for the whole season.
Cook had a good game to close out his career as a Penguin. The senior tailback rambled for 124 yards on 30 carries. Cook entered the game with 3, 938 yards. This effort put him over the 4,000 yard mark, and he also eclipsed Adrian Brown for second on YSU’s all-time rushing list.
Besides breaking the record for passing touchdowns, Hess settled down, especially in the second half. Hess engineered several first downs and kept the Penguins way ahead in the vaunted time of possession category, which they won, 36:36-23:24. Hess was 20-28 for 248 yards and two touchdowns.
Bell didn’t have the Saturday he had last season against a Penguin defense that has been improving steadily all season. The junior had 18 carries for 54 yards.
Aronde Stanton talked about the YSU defensive success against Bell.
“It shows how much we improved, it is a credit to the coaches. There was a lot at stake today, and we came out and laid it all on the line. It bothers me because we left a few games out there, hopefully the good Lord will take care of us.”
One last gasp. Youngstown State will celebrate the careers of the senior football players, cheerleaders, and band members this Saturday. The last note, cartwheel, and reception can all take place within a few seconds of each other. Then it is gone. All that is left for the great majority of those seniors is the memories of the days when they were that person.
Indiana State comes to town ranked #7 and having a sensational year. They are a good football team that will try to jam the ball down the throats of the eight YSU defenders in the box. Last season, they did exactly that, racing out to a 21-0 and holding on for a 37-35 lead. The underlying themes of that game were that Shakir Bell is really good, and Youngstown State will not quit.
Maybe a coincidence, but the Penguins are again chasing the Sycamores. This race however covers a season, and YSU is trailing again. The Penguins are mathematically alive for a playoff spot but will need to knock off Indiana State before any consideration will be given. It is a must win game for both teams.
At the weekly press conference, YSU’s Jamaine Cook was asked to compare himself to Bell.
“We are very different, he [Bell] is a quicker back than me, but I think I run with a little more power”, said Cook.
“Cook is a veteran. I am not so sure he has more power than me. Pound-for-pound I think I got him. I’m quicker, but I think I am just as, if not more, powerful.”
Either way, both backs have had great years at their respective universities and the ground enthusiasts will be real happy to attend this game. Bell, a junior, is a finalist on the Walter Payton Watch List.
Indiana State will ride a bus to Canton on Friday and have a walkthrough practice at Fawcett Stadium. After the walkthrough, the players will get to visit the NFL Hall of Fame.
“We visited the Hall of Fame two years ago on this trip in. I enjoy going through there and noticing how many great running back only averaged four to five yards per carry”, said Bell.
As far as last season’s meeting, Bell was quick to be quoted in the present.
“Last year was last year, it’s in the past and does nothing for us now. They [YSU] beat Pitt and Pitt almost beat Notre Dame. They are a good team and they like to hit. We are going to do all we can to execute and we are not thinking about losing.”
YSU’s Aronde Stanton also talked about the weapon the Sycamores use best.
“Bell is a really good back, but we have seen some good running backs all season. He is probably the best running back we will see though and we have to find a way to get it done.”
While Bell was quick to shun last years game, many Penguins pointed toward a regular season ending loss to Missouri State that kept them out of the postseason.
“Last year we overlooked our opponent and looked toward the playoffs”, said Cook. ”We won’t make that mistake this year.”
Penguin TE Will Shaw commented on what it will take to post a win. ”Last year at Indiana State we dug ourselves too big of a hole. We want to have a fast start and take care of business this year.”
Coach Wolford respects the Sycamores and knows that YSU has a tough task to deal with this weekend.
“Anytime you beat North Dakota State, it is a good season. They are a creative team with a wide-open playbook and they make you accountable.”
The playoffs are a coveted goal for all teams. YSU can win and still be left out thanks to the month of October. However, Wolford thinks that a win should be enough.
“If it’s meant to be, then it’s meant to be. Seven of the ten teams we have played so far have been ranked in the Top-25 this season.”
Kickoff is set for 2 pm with a decent weather forecast to look forward too. See you at the game that I predict the Penguins to win, 31-28.
Youngstown State (6-4, 3-4) kept their playoff hopes alive with a 31-7 victory at Western Illinois. The Penguins played a very methodical game and had a big edge in the time of possession, 39:52 to WIU’s 20:08, nearly a twenty minute difference.
Jamaine Cook (above) carried the ball 32 times for 113 yards in the win. Cook scored the first Penguins touchdown on the opening march of the game with a two-yard plunge to give the Penguins an early 7-0 lead.
Western Illinois freshman QB, Hayden Northern scored on a fourth-and-goal from the one to tie the game. The touchdown was the first for the Leathernecks since October 6.
YSU’s defense buckled down after the Leathernecks scored. The defense played well in the win, limiting Western Illinois to 142 yards of total offense for the afternoon. The numbers do not lie, 52 yards on 23 carries is a damn good defensive showing.
Meanwhile, the Penguins run game was in high gear. YSU would finish the game with 225 rushing yards on the ground. Kurt Hess and Torrian Pace scored touchdowns on the ground. Adaris Bellamy looked healthy as he tacked 60 rushing yards onto the total. The offensive line blocked well and their lone blemishes were a couple of penalties for false starts.
Hess had some problems with his passing as he was picked off to give Western Illinois the starting field position of YSU’s 17 on their lone scoring drive. Hess did make some good passes in the win, however, and finished the game 14-22 for 152 yards.
So the stage is now set for a meaningful war with Indiana State at Stambaugh Stadium next week. If Indiana State wins, they will get in. If YSU wins, there is a good chance that they will get in. The loser of this game will definitely see their season end.
The Sycamores had a bye week, giving them a couple of weeks to prepare for the Penguins. The vanilla ball-control offense Eric Wolford used to defeat the Leathernecks with was a perfect script of simplicity that Indiana State will learn little they already didn’t know when reviewing it.
The last two games against Western Illinois and South Dakota could be called cupcake games, but it should be noted that the teams ahead of YSU in the standings played one, or both, at some point this season as well. The timing couldn’t be better though for the Penguins, as getting on a little roll is huge going into a game that definitely puts the season on the line next week.
Youngstown State will travel to Macomb, Illinois, for their final regular season road contest to face Western Illinois. The Penguins (5-4, 2-4) are trying to regain the swagger that had them ranked as high as third in the polls. Then October came. The Leathernecks (3-6, 1-5) are having a pretty tough campaign as well, but hope that the adrenaline will propel them to a victory on Senior Day.
The Penguins have preached all season long that they will not look ahead, but rather, focus on the opponent of the week. Coach Eric Wolford also vowed that this team could not put all of its eggs in one basket, but a loss would surely eliminate the Penguins from any hopes of postseason life. The eggs are in one basket every week.
If the Penguins can secure a win in Macomb, next week’s contest against Indiana State will have huge playoff implications that could seed the winner. One week at a time though, as the focus is on the Leathernecks of Western Illinois.
Last season, the Penguins won a lopsided 56-11 verdict at Stambaugh Stadium. The Penguins have owned the Leathernecks in the recent years, winning seven of the last eight games, and now hold a 16-11 edge in the series. Even though Western Illinois has lost seven of their last eight, senior WR Charles Chestnut vows that his team is going to do all they can to win.
The Penguins have turned up the pressure, recording eleven sacks in the last three games. Aronde Stanton and Nick DeKraker have a sack in each of the three games.
Offensively, Kurt Hess needs one more touchdown pass to take sole ownership of the most touchdowns in a career. The junior signal caller is tied with Tom Zetts at 51 aerial tosses. RB Jamaine Cook (above) is the reigning MVFC Offensive Player of The Week as he popped out 203 yards on 42 carries last week in the win over South Dakota.
Cook is also chasing some historical marks. He can set the career mark at YSU for all-purpose yardage if he can accumulate 180 yards. He also trails Adrian Brown by 163 yards for second place on the all-time rushing yardage list.
“The win last week definitely helps us get our confidence back on track”, said OL Lamar Mady. ”Everybody is level-headed and working hard to be prepared for the next game. We want to get the whole offense running strong again.”
Kickoff from Macomb is 2 pm EST (1 pm CST) and the game will be carried on WFMJ. Don’t count YSU out yet.
The 2012 football season that started with such a bang is fizzing away. After a 4-0 start, and then an 0-4 stretch, the Youngstown State University Penguins have gone from the headlines to the bread lines in just a month. There is no magical answer as to why, but a logical guess would be turnovers, failing to defend any passing game, and special teams weekly blunders.
Coach Eric Wolford knows that this stretch has been taxing on the psyche of his players and assistant coaches. Turnovers are not something that can be schemed against. Period. Any team that turns the ball over as much as YSU has in the last three games (11) will not win, and sometimes not even get close to winning.
Okay. So what happens now? The Penguins could very easily pack up the tent and post the ‘wait until next year’ taunts, ala Cleveland sports teams since 1949, or the Penguins can continue to try to win games.
Keep in mind, at 4-3 going into last week, this team was ranked #22. If the Penguins can defeat South Dakota this week and Western Illinois next week, they may very well end up right back in the polls at 6-4. If that does happen, the home finale against Indiana State will have plenty of importance in determining whether or not the Penguins will play the following week.
In true Penguin fashion, however, these games must be won one week at a time. Kurt Hess has struggled. Jamaine Cook has had limited production in two of the last four games because the Penguins have trailed, meaning the pass game becomes the dominant choice on offense. In obvious passing situations, teams can sit back and use numbers to conjure turnovers. They can also send more than what can be blocked to hurry or sack Hess.
Defensively, consistency is the biggest issue. South Dakota’s Tyler Starr, a sophomore linebacker, thinks his team is struggling with the same issues on the defensive side of the ball.
“It comes down to discipline and execution”, said Starr. ”People can get carried away during a game and miss an assignment or take a play off here or there. Suddenly what was a 7-7 game becomes a 21-7 game, and you are trying to figure out what just happened.”
When asked who is a bigger threat to his defense, Hess or Cook (pass or run), Starr gave an honest and candid answer.
“They are both great players. We have to concentrate on shutting down the run game early and force them to pass.”
The meeting against South Dakota will be the first ever. USD is in its first year in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. It will also mark the 71st Homecoming game in school history. Since relocating to Stambaugh Stadium, the Penguins are 20-10 in Homecoming games.
The game has the potential of being a blowout for the home team, or a disastrous next chapter in a book Penguin fans do not want to read.
“It’s not hard to see that turnovers have made the difference in these last few games”, said Wolford. ”We preach how important it is to take care of the ball, and we have failed to do that.”
The Homecoming Parade will start at Noon and the game will kickoff at 2 pm.
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.
Youngstown State has had a motto they have focused on this season, in good times and bad – focus on winning one game at a time. Entering this week, the Penguins are still ranked at #22, still confident in the potential, and still in the thick of a playoff berth. However, if the second half of football this week is anything like the past three have been, all of those aspirations can vanish quickly.
Eric Wolford has not beaten South Dakota State in his first two tries. He knows that South Dakota State (5-2, 2-2) is in a similar situation with a sense of urgency churning through both teams preparing for this game which will have major playoff implications. As an added bonus, the Penguins will face the Jackrabbits on Hobo Day, the South Dakota State Homecoming.
“They are number one in the conference in red zone defense”, said Wolford at the weekly press conference. ”They are terrific on third down too. But the glaring thing is that program’s ability to recruit players that fit into their defensive scheme.”
One of the reasons South Dakota State has been so good this season is Zach Zenner (above). In last week’s loss to Northern Iowa, Zenner had 112 yards rushing. Zenner currently leads all FCS backs with a 194 yards per game average. The Jackrabbits sophomore tailback talked about the importance of winning on Hobo Day.
“Hobo Day, in one word, is Homecoming here”, said Zenner via telephone. ”We are doing our best to grow some beards and it is a very festive time on campus. Our mascot is a Jackrabbit, and there are knockoff mascots and a whole bunch of fun things going on. Naturally, we want to try to win every game, but we really want to win on Hobo Day.”
YSU must shut Zenner down to have a chance. They must also not give away penalty yards at crucial junctures of the game.
“We are looking to stay within ourselves”, said Zenner. ”If they commit penalties against us, we won’t turn away the free yards.”
Wolford has done a good job blocking out the sudden rush of negativity geared toward the way things have gone lately.
“When you are winning, everyone wants to pat you on the back and say how good things are”, exclaimed Wolford. ”When you are not winning they will throw bricks, and sticks, and stones at you. We don’t pay attention because we know what we have to do.”
“We know we are only guaranteed four more games”, said safety Donald D’Alesio. ”They [South Dakota State] run a very basic offense, but they do what they do well. We have to get this bad taste out of our mouths this week, we are ready to win.”
Junior LB, Ali Cheaib, who doubles as a special teams player, was asked which of the three phases of the game need the most attention, since he is involved with two of them.
“Special teams are getting better, and last week was our best effort since the Pitt game on defense. We are confident as a team because we know what we are capable of. There is also a sense of urgency, more than ever, and we know our backs are against the corner.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 3 pm EST, and the game will be televised on WFMJ.
Eric Wolford started a new practice week like a politician, promising change. Wolford made good on the promise of a more stubborn defense. Something Wolford can’t scheme against or plan differently are the mistakes that doomed his Penguins. Southern Illinois blocked a punt for a score, landed on a loose ball in the end zone, intercepted passes and recovered a fumble to defeat the Penguins, 38-21.
“We didn’t play very well. There are three phases and we only played good defense”, said Eric Wolford. ”We know we are capable of being a good football team but we have been shut out the last three games on offense. We need to simplify some things.”
YSU started the game in very workmanlike fashion. The Penguins marched 55 yards in ten plays to take a 7-0 lead on a 1-yard Jamaine Cook plunge.
The Salukis scored by the end of the first quarter on a 26-yard Austin Johnson field goal that cut the YSU lead to 7-3.
Cook garnered his second touchdown of the game on a 4-yard scamper that would increase the lead to 14-3 for the Penguins. The touchdown came with 11:43 left in the first half and capped off a ten play, 65-yard drive.
Big special teams plays by the Salukis hindered YSU’s improved defensive effort in the first half. Southern Illinois blocked a punt with 5:36 left in the half and Courtney Richmond pounced on the loose pill in the end zone to close the gap to 14-10.
YSU would again retaliate with a good drive. Cook had his third rushing touchdown of the half when he dove in from a yard out to increase the Penguin lead to 21-10. It marked the third successful scoring drive of the half, this one covering 76 yards.
As a steady mist fell, Southern Illinois would cut the lead to 21-17 when Kory Faulkner spotted LaSteven McKinney for a 10-yard touchdown.
On a third-and-short, Southern Illinois used play-action to catch the YSU defense out of position. MyCole Pruitt was pretty much by himself, catching a Faulkner pass on about the ten and jogging into the end zone to give the Salukis their first lead of the afternoon at 24-21.
On the next YSU possession, with the Penguins trying to drive and get their lead back, an errant snap exchange between Hess and center Mark Pratt from the shotgun formation rolled into the Penguins end zone and Southern Illinois’ Tyler Williamson landed on the ball for a 31-21 Salukis lead.
With five minutes left and YSU driving, Hess was stripped of the ball while trying to make something out of nothing. Southern Illinois recovered with a 10-point lead.
The final straw was a last gasp drive that ended in Hess getting picked off in the end zone and running 100 yards for a game-sealing touchdown.
The Penguins fell to 1-3 in the conference and probably can’t lose again if they want into the postseason.
“It hurts [the loss] just like the rest of them. Our defense played a great game and as a leader, I can take the blame, our offense did not get the job done”, said YSU’s Cook after the game.
Aronde Stanton, another captain, gave his views. ”We lose as a team, so it doesn’t matter who plays better, offense or defense, it is a team loss.”
“I will be thinking all night about how to keep this team loose”, said Wolford. ”We play South Dakota next week and we have not beaten them since I got here, so we have to really focus.”