Posts Tagged ‘Torrian Pace’

YSU Football Winter Notes


Now that the 2013 season is well-behind, reflection and awards are handed out. Youngstown State University fell just short of the goal – making the playoffs, but there was plenty of positive that needs to be recognized.

For starters, the Penguins finished the season 8-4, winning two of every three games they played.  More impressively is that the Penguins four losses, in hindsight, were to the team that won the Rose Bowl (Michigan State), the team that won the FCS Championship (North Dakota State), a team that advanced past the first round of the FCS Playoffs (South Dakota State), and a team that lost three conference overtime games in a row setting a record (UNI).

If the UNI loss seems like the one that got away, we later learned that Kurt Hess played the entire second half hurt, forcing the Penguins into a one-dimensional attack of just running.  Coach Eric Wolford never pinned that loss on his quarterback, he took the blame for it, saying “This one is on me”.  It came to light almost a whole week later that Hess was indeed injured.


This group of seniors (above) will be a tough bunch to replace.  Hess started all four years he was here.  But some of the unheralded players – the limping DJ Moss, the banged-up Dom Rich, the falling out of grace, yet remaining a team player, Torrian Pace, and the versatile Carson Sharbaugh will all be missed.  Kyle Sirl ended up being one of my favorite all-time Penguins because he was fighting no matter what the score.

It was at East Lansing that I started developing such a respect for Sirl.  Trailing Michigan State 35-10, Sirl came toward the sidelines, winded, beat up, and looked at me saying something along the lines of “We are going to make a run”.  It would be understated to say he wasn’t giving it his all.  YSU ended up losing 55-17.  They did however, gain almost 100 yards more on the ground than Michigan would against a stingy Spartans defense.

On to the awards.  As recently as today, several Penguins have received postseason awards.  Hess was named to the FCS ADA Academic All-Star Team.  Chris Elkins was named a Second-Team-All American by The Associated Press and Third Team by The Sports Network.  Kyle Bryant was selected to play in the prestigious East-West Shrine Game, Elkins would later be named to join Bryant.  Jelani Berassa was given another year of eligibility.  Martin Ruiz, who finished tied for third for the Jerry Rice Awardand Jameel Smith made it onto the MVFC All-Newcomer team.


The coaching staff for the Penguins, seems to remain in place, for now.  Ron Strollo has given Wolford a vote of confidence by publicly stating that he hopes Wolford is coaching the Penguins for a very long time.  Wolford’s biggest steps of growth as a head coach were made this season.  He seemed to be looser with the players, less vocal with the media, and was able to pinpoint his teams strengths from week-to-week with pretty good accuracy.  Injuries are a part of the game, and adverse injuries, like the Hess situation the last three weeks, cannot be the grounds for calling Wolford or any of his coaches unworthy.  Ride the horse that got you there.  Hess was the horse, he just had bad timing with an uncontrollable injury.

The four new coaches – Mangino, Gallon, Beathard, and Bryant did good work for Wolford.  Bricillo, Cochran, Stoops, Montgomery, Kopp, Davis, And Sims are a great supporting cast and the new guys enhanced the overall product.

2014 is right around the corner.  Shane Montgomery is going to have the hardest assignment as an offensive coordinator losing Kurt Hess.  As they recruit, they know what they need.  Best of luck signing the players to push it to the next level.  Oh, and 8-4 really wasn’t too bad!

YSU Drops Dukes, 59-17, Head Into League Play With Win


Youngstown State got back on the winning track with a 52-17 win over Duquesne.  The Penguins came out a little sluggish, but shook off the hangover with enough vigor to look impressive heading into league play.

The thing that stood out in the win was balance.  The defense really hit hard Saturday, credit them for the low-scoring output from Duquesne.  Offensively, there was true balance as the run and pass games were both effective.  More impressively, both phases got major contributions from many different players.  Whether it was Ruiz or Pace, Hess to Bryan, or Hess to Adams — it will end up being a hard film to grade for Southern Illinois.

“We got a lot of balance”, said Wolford.  “We have to do a better job of getting some guys in.  When they load up the box, we have to be able to throw the ball down the field, and we did that well today too.  We dropped three potential interceptions and if we keep contain, we get sacks too.”

The 3-1 record that YSU takes into Missouri Valley Conference play comes without a true gauge of what to expect.  The three wins — against Duquesne, Morehead State, and Dayton should all have been wins.  The loss to Michigan State fell well below the expectation of making a good showing.  When combining the results of those four games, nothing is certain entering the conference schedule.


The Penguins put up the only points in the first quarter on a 40-yard field goal form Joey Cejudo.

The defense started to really put some licks on the Dukes in the second quarter.  Once the offense got their hands back on the ball, the Penguins rode the back of Torrian Pace.  The senior running back carried the ball five straight times to cover the last 19 yards of the scoring drive.

Dom Rich recovered a fumble to give Youngstown State the ball back, but the Dukes ended the scoring threat forcing the Penguins to punt.  Once the Guins got their next possession, Andre Stubbs broke a reverse for 44 yards but it was called back due to an illegal block in the back.

The Penguins recovered from the penalty, and then some, tallying two touchdowns before the end of the first half.  Martin Ruiz, who seems to be emerging as the Penguins number one tailback, had a nine-yard scoring run.

With 46 seconds left in the first half, Kurt Hess found his tight end, Nate Adams, across the middle for a 52-yards scoring play.  The late burst put the home team ahead, 24-0, at the break.

“We came out a little sluggish”, said Adams.  “I’m glad Kurt found me though, it always feels good to be in the end zone.  Going into conference play with confidence is big for us.”


Duquesne came out to start the second half not looking at all like a defeated team.  The Dukes engineered a nice 75-yard scoring drive which ended on an Ethan Dorsey one-yard plunge and made the score 24-7.

The Dukes wasted little time scoring their next six.  On the first play of their second drive, Dillon Buechel found Gianni Carter for a 63-yard hookup to make it 24-14.

Dale Peterman returned for the Penguins and made several big defensive plays.

“It felt good, I have been waiting a long time “, said Peterman.  “Coach Tresey and Davis stress that turnovers win games.  David Rivers returned one and we got some fumbles,we felt pretty good.”

The Penguins would roar back angrily with their own scoring drive of 84 yards as Ruiz cashed in with a four-yard jaunt, his second touchdown on the day, that would give YSU a 31-14 lead.  He would add a third score from five yards out on the very next drive to make it 38-14.


Hess found Marcell Caver (above) for a 55-yarder that made it 45-14 to start the fourth quarter.  Jody Webb made it 52-17 with 5:20 left in the game on a ten yard tally. David Rivers added an exclamation point with a pick six to make it 59-17.

Hess would finish the game 15-25 for 292 yards and a pair of touchdowns.  Ruiz paced the ground attack with his three touchdowns and 66 yards on 18 carries.  Pace add 65 yards on 17 carries.  Nate Adams caught four passes for 104 yards.

For Duquesne, Buechel finished 21-38 for 362 yards, but took a solid licking the last play he was in.  Kevon Caffey nailed Buechel from behind.  Carter had four catches for 134 yards to lead the Dukes.

YSU “Tunes The Car Up” For A Trip To Michigan State


Youngstown State University played the first game of a two-week swing that may feature the best team they will face all season (Michigan State) and the least talented team (Morehead State).  Phase one of the experiment went well as the Penguins rolled to a 67-13 victory at home.

Coach Eric Wolford and staff executed a game plan that did what it should have against a non-scholarship school like Morehead State.  The Penguins dominated all three phases of the game, convincingly.  The performance will vault the Penguins into a more confident state of mind before heading to East Lansing next week when the shoe is completely on the other foot.

Kurt Hess (below) got back on track, turning in a solid first half only performance.  Hess was 16-19 for 282 yards and three touchdowns.  The Hess TD’s were to Andre Stubbs, Andrew Williams, and Marcel Caver.  All three touchdown passes were in the first quarter, which ended with YSU ahead, 22-0.

“Offensively, we wanted to come up and prove what we could do”, said Hess.  “We played up to our potential today.  I had a sharper week of practice.  I appreciate the reps that our backups got today, it is nice to see all of the talent live up to expectation.”


In the second quarter, the YSU rushing game did all of the scoring for the Penguins.  Martin Ruiz tallied for a 14-yarder, Jody Webb scored on a nine-yard scamper, and Torrian Pace rumbled in from three yards out to stake the Guins to a 43-7 halftime lead.

Webb (bottom photo), who had the most yardage of all the YSU running backs, maximized his chances as he carried the ball 11 times for 122 yards.  He would score twice in the second half from seven and from 34 yards to put YSU ahead 53-7.  The second touchdown was an electrifying burst up the middle where Webb was dancing through Eagle tacklers like orange pylons.

“You got to see Jody Webb today”, commented Wolford.  “Sometimes you don’t even have to block for a guy like that.”


Defensively, the Penguins had fun, with the exception of one series.  Travis Williams (above) had a big sack in the first quarter which knocked the Eagles staring quarterback, Logan Johnson, out of the game.

“We got it all together in the locker room and knew we could put on that kind of a dominating performance”, said Williams.  “Coach Tresey wants us all around the ball and the d-line is really showing up this Fall.  We played Morehead as if they were a Michigan State or a North Dakota State, we won’t take anyone lightly this season.”

To capitalize what kind of a day it was, on his first defensive snap of the year, David Rivers, a redshirt freshman, thwarted a fourth quarter Morehead State drive with an interception in the end zone.


The Penguins did a good job being playground bully on Saturday.  YSU amassed 718 total yards on offense (359 rushing, 359 passing).  They will need a nearly flawless effort next week in a game that they can win if they follow through on every detail, win the time of possession, and do not turn the ball over.

“It’s good to get a win”, said Coach Wolford.  “A lot of guys got to play today.  They kept trying to blitz us like crazy, so we had to continue to pass, whereas we would have preferred to run.”

“Michigan State is a Big-10 team, nationally ranked, and we are going up there to play in a great atmosphere.  You have to be up for a game like this.  We weren’t perfect today by any means.  It is a big football game.  We went for two after the first touchdown so teams would spend a little extra time making sure they line up right, but also because eight is better than seven.”

The depth that the Penguins have was really on display from the second quarter until the end of the game.  Wolford had to feel good about what he recruited with the production of his reserves.  Names like Tanner Garry and Parnell Taylor got action in the fourth quarter.

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 Football Preview, 2013 Prediction


Youngstown State University will uncork a brand new season a week from Thursday when they host Dayton.  The Penguins have never beaten the Flyers in a football game (0-9), but the last contest was played way back in the seventies.  Things have changed, and it is a mark of progress to see how the Youngstown State team has advanced almost 40 years later.

There have been National Championships and years to brag about.  This is the year that YSU Football gets back into the playoffs, and regains some of its national charisma.  I will not wait to tell you I am predicting a 10-2 season for the Guins.  If you do not think the Missouri Valley Football Conference is tough, you have not been keeping up for the past decade or so.

So why two losses?  Why doesn’t the “homer”, as I have been affectionately named by other members of the media, pick these Penguins to run the table and put up a perfect season?  I will tell you why…

Michigan State is a program that is in much better shape than Pitt was last year.  They have an established coach using his own recruits.  Last season Pitt was ripe.  They had a new coach and little motivation as they were just trying to find a team identity.  That does not take away from the fact that the win was still considered a big upset, and a notch in the program’s belt.  Keep in mind, those same Panthers ended up getting their act together and taking Notre Dame to the wire.

I believe that the Michigan State game, win or lose, is a good measuring stick to see what  level of competition YSU can provide.  Don’t think for a minute MSU will not use the Penguins win over Pitt as motivation.  They got a taste in East Lansing two years ago, and Youngstown State was in the game until midway through the fourth quarter. I’m not saying it can’t happen again, but it would have to be a flawless effort this time around.


The Penguins should, in all probability, be 3-1 after the non-conference games.  I think the average margin of victory against Dayton, Morehead State, and Duquesne could be in the thirty point range.  After that, the conference games start and anything seems to happen at some point every year.

The hardest part of the conference schedule seems to be at the end, beginning with a road game against Northern Iowa.  That game is followed by two home games against last years #1, North Dakota State, and a good South Dakota State team.  To make my 10-2 prediction valid, the Penguins have to win two of these three games.

The other game to put a mark next to is the November 2 contest at South Dakota.  The reason why is because it follows a bye week, which is when everything fell apart last season.  Eric Wolford knows he will have to keep his team in rhythm through that two week stretch, and it did not go so well last season.

“We talked about maybe doing a little scrimmage in between, to kind of keep our edge this time”, said Wolford.  “I want to keep guys healthy, at the same point, but we are going to have to get into a little more active situations out here.  The most glaring thing after the bye week last season, even though we coaches harped on it, was that we lost our edge.  We had eleven turnovers in three quarters of football, and you just can’t do that.”

Wolford critics are circling Stambaugh Stadium more rapidly in our constant “win right now” atmosphere.  Some say Wolford has to make the playoffs to keep his job this season.  Get your pen ready coach.


Timing and mistakes will go away with repeatability.  This is obviously a very young offensive line and a very young defensive front.  A healthy Kyle Sirl and Steve Zaborsky will pay dividends on the defensive side of the ball.  With a rash of injuries and legal problems in the secondary, Coach Davis has his work cut out.  However, anyone who knows the game will tell you that the best pass coverage is a good rush on the opposing quarterback.

The strength of the offense is Kurt Hess, period.  Hess has the tools to carry this offense following the blueprint.  He can throw accurately and takes care of the ball.  He has the experience to find a fourth read, and he can tuck it and go if he has to.

New running backs coach, Eric Gallon, has the difficulty of figuring out which running backs to recommend to get playing time.  Torrian Pace, Adaris Bellamy, and Demond Hymes were the three that figured to get the reps.  An injury to Hymes has made everyone look deeper to where at least two more backs have stuck their flag in the dirt. Redshirt freshman, Jody Webb, has had a great camp and has turned heads.  True freshman, Ryan Mosora has also made a good impression.

Don’t be surprised to see all five running backs get reps against first-team defenses all season.

Keep an eye on Carson Sharbaugh at tight end.  Under the tutelage of Coach Mangino, Sharbaugh will prosper.  Sharbaugh is already a very good blocking tight end who would sneak out into the open spot of a zone once in the while to catch a pass.  This season, he will be utilized more as a threat to score.

The new coaches (four in all) have seemed focused and have experience in pressure situations.  Gallon and Mangino are joined by Kurt Beathard and Jamie Bryant. Beathard was with Wolford at Illinois when a Rose Bowl berth was captured.  Bryant was a defensive coordinator in the SEC spending nine years at Vanderbilt.


Last Summer, things looked too good.  The team seemed to max out against Pitt, and never really recovered their demeanor until Indiana State toward the end of the schedule when they decisively won a “must-win” game to have any chance of a playoff berth.

Some feel the Penguins should have made the playoff field, others felt that they blew the chance and did not.  Either way, Coach Wolford knows that winning can take the guesswork out of the equation.

“Our approach is going to be that we control our own destiny.  We can’t leave it up to some jury, to some committee, sitting in some room.  There is nobody on that committee that wants Youngstown State back in the playoffs.  We can’t bank on beating Pitt counting for two wins because it is a BCS team.  We are done relying on that system.  All we can do is strive to get better every day, play hard, and take care of our bodies.  That is what we control.  As of today, we control our destiny.  If we start losing, we give up that control.  We control our own destiny, and I plan on not giving that up.”

Wolford recently had to suspend Dale Peterman because of legal problems.

“In this day and age, you have to be accountable for your own actions”, said Wolford.

“We are under the microscope now more than ever.  Hopefully they change some of these NCAA rules moving forward.  We are not allowed to be around our players in the Summer.  You don’t read about college basketball players getting in trouble over the Summer because they are allowed to be around their coaches, they changed that rule.  We need to change the rule for football.  You mean to tell me that all of these kids that got in trouble over the Summer would have been in trouble if their coaches were allowed around them on a regular basis?  I don’t think so.  Changes need to be made.”

YSU Loses Regular Season Finale At Wright State, 72-45

Eargle Free Throw At Wright State

If Youngstown State is going to make a run in the Horizon League Tournament, which starts Tuesday, they will need to provide a much better effort than they did Saturday at the Nutter Center.  Wright State, picked by the “experts” to finish in the basement of the conference, improved their third place standing with a 72-45 conquest of YSU.

“This is a tough way to go into the playoffs.”, said Jerry Slocum.  “This was probably our worst effort of the year,”

In the first half, Wright State raced out to an early double-digit lead with the help of 14 Youngstown State turnovers leading to 19 Wright State points.  The Penguins could only muster a 30% shooting percentage in the half, while the Raiders shot 61%, resulting in a 39-19 lead for WSU.  The Penguins finished the game with 16 turnovers.

Damian Eargle managed to score seven of the Penguins 19 points in the half.  The Raiders got nine points from Kurt Hess‘s high school friend, Matt Vest.  In fact, Hess, Torrian Pace, and Chris Elkins  (below) made the trip to Dayton on Friday.  Hess grew up in the area.


In the second half, D. J. Cole penetrated and dumped a feed to Eargle, who snared an easy basket.  The hoop made the score 47-28 with a shade over 14 minutes left to play in the game.  Four minutes later, the Penguins found themselves down 21, trailing 51-30.  Wright State was getting two or three chances each offensive possession with good offensive rebounding.

Kamren Belin hit threes on consecutive possessions to make it 59-38, but Wright State quickly regained control of things, capped by J. T. Yoho‘s bucket in the paint with 3:46 left to make it 64-39.

For YSU, Eargle finished the game with 11 points to lead the team.  Allen had 5 with 5 rebounds to lead the team, and Belin ended up with 8 points.

This year’s conference Cinderella, Wright State (19-11, 10-6), got 14 points from Jerran Young and 11 from Vest in the win.  As a team, the Raiders compiled 12 steals.


All the Penguins (16-14, 7-9) can do now is focus on Tuesday.  They cannot mope or dwell because  the next loss means “season over” for the team.  It also means the careers of Allen and Eargle will end.

Kendrick Perry shot around with the team during the pregame but was again held out. His status is unchanged and he will be reevaluated again before a decision is made about being in the Penguin lineup on Tuesday

Show support for the Penguins Tuesday and get to the Beeghly Center for their first-round playoff game.

Pregame Events At YSU Special To Many


Regardless of the outcome of the Milwaukee at Youngstown State University basketball game Friday, 35-40 people had fun.  The YSU Student Athletic Advisory Committee hosted a field day for many Special Olympians.

YSU athletes from several different sports programs showed their hearts in a big way. Kurt Hess was painting faces (above).  Michael Klaus was a bit apprehensive about the makeover but with some urging, yielded to allow Hess to show his creative stroke.


In another section of the Beeghly Center lobby, there was a game of shuffleboard.  In another area, several were engaged in an arts and crafts session.  There were T-shirts for the participants too.

“It’s a great way to give back to the community”, said Torrian Pace.  “This is how to be a positive role model and to lift the spirits of people who sometimes get talked down.  It is a special day for the visitors, but all of the student athletes helping out see it as a special day too.”

The event, coordinated by Bre Romeo and Emily Wollet, was a huge success and any casual observer to the game who caught a glimpse of the activities was touched.

Penguins Methodically Dismantle Western Illinois To Keep Playoffs A Reality


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.

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.”