Posts Tagged ‘Torrian Pace’

YSU Scrapes Out Hard-Fought 31-24 Win Over Albany


All week long, Eric Wolford said his YSU Penguins would not look past Albany.  The Penguins were focused enough to pull out a 31-24 win.  The Penguins jumped to 3-0 and like Aronde Stanton said at the postgame press conference, any win is a good win.

“Albany did a good job coming in to play hard, they are well-coached “, said Wolford.  “You can see why the coach has been there for 40 years.  I was encouraged that we found a way to come away with a win in the fourth quarter.  In any championship run, there is always a game like this.”

YSU started the game with the ball.  After picking up two quick first downs, Kurt Hess found Will Shaw for a 20-yard completion, but Shaw was blindsided and coughed up the pigskin.  Albany capitalized on a flea-flicker that saw Cole King haul in a 44-yard scoring toss from Will Fiacchi.

Trailing 7-0, the Penguins offense responded quickly.  Jamaine Cook (above) scored the first of three first half rushing touchdowns.  This one would come from two yards out and capped a 10-play, 87 yard drive.


Albany would respond quickly to tie the game at 14 when Omar Osbourne rattled off a nice 32-yard touchdown run.

YSU started their next drive with nine minutes left in the half.  The Penguins offense would cover 7 yards in 11 plays to reclaim the lead on a Cook 7-yard tally.

Albany would score with nine seconds left in the half to tie the game at 21.  Drew Smith caught a Fiacchi pass in the left flats and got into the end zone almost untouched for the Great Danes.


After both teams failed to convert their initial second half drives, Kyle Sirl sacked Fiacchi on third down to halt the next Great Danes possession.

“I started the season as a two and knew that everyone had to contribute”, said Sirl.  “It was great to contribute, and it was a lot of fun.”

YSU (3-0) would build off of that momentum and take a 24-21 lead with 2:15 left in the third quarter.  Extra point specialist David Brown got to kick a field goal, from 25 yards to pull the Guins in front.  The field goal capped a 12-play 70 yard drive that chewed up 6:48.

With Albany on the move again, Sirl came up big for the second time in the half with another third down sack to stop a drive.  On the next drive, Sirl would have a hurry in what was turning into his best game ever.

“We needed to play tougher and hit them”, said Sirl.  “That was the big adjustment at half. ”

“Kyle [Sirl] is a guy that has been in the program.  He isn’t the flashiest guy, he is an overachiever”, said Wolford.  “He deserves all of the accolades for his hard work.”

Ali Cheaib blocked a punt for the second consecutive week.  The blocked punt would set YSU up at the Albany 29 with just over five minutes left in the game.  With 2:48 left in the game, YSU would ice the contest when Torrian Pace went off of left tackle for a one-yarder to make it 31-21.

Albany would kick a field goal to make it 31-24, but Dale Peterman fielded the onside kick attempt with :56 left in the game to seal the win for the Penguins.


Cook had his best game of the year for the Penguins.  The senior tailback had 33 carries for 161 yards and three touchdowns.

Hess finished the contest 15-22 for 183 yards.  He showed maturity and poise more than once on third down plays in the second half.  Hess also had five rushes for 26 yards.

“It  was a fight.  Jermaine and I saw that from the beginning”, said Hess.  “We responded and got a win.  It is going to help us.  They were a very disciplined football team.”

Fiacchi was 23-35 for 28 yards and two touchdowns.  Cole King caught seven passes for 115 yards.

The Penguins open Missouri Valley Conference play next week when Northern Iowa comes to town.  Northern Iowa lost to Iowa this week.

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.

YSU’s Defense, Not Offense, Looks Strong In First Scrimmage


Coming into this season, no one was sure what to expect from a defense filled with new faces.  In Saturday’s first scrimmage action, the defense did things that they failed to do last year in all situations, and they did those things consistently.  In fact, for the last couple of seasons, these same scrimmages looked like offensive track meets.  Not on Joe Tresey‘s watch.

Early on, the offense tried to run a reverse.  Last season that same reverse was a guaranteed minimum ten yard gain.  This season the contain was there, the reverse was turned in, and the pursuit caught up to the play for a three-yard gain.

Another glaring thing that stood out was the run defense.  By looking at the top picture of this article and counting the white jerseys tackling the red jersey, you get a good idea of how well the defense reacted.  Everyone at every position has a job to do and new defensive coordinator Joe Tresey had to be happy with what he saw.


One of the other impressive things was that the defensive backs, who are healthy right now, did a great job reading their keys.  They were taking a step forward to respect the run and participating in many group tackles, but they were also doing something they couldn’t last season – stuffing the pass.  Even play-action passing plays did not fool the corners and safeties.  Kurt Hess and the receivers looked out of rhythm because the defense was on their game.

So is it time to panic on behalf of the offense?  No.  It is just a measure of the strides that the defense has made under Tresey.

“Recruiting solves a lot of problems”, said Eric Wolford.

Wolford was answering a question about filling the biggest cracks on a defense that was not up to standards last season.


During the drive sequences, the defense allowed just two plays of more than 10 yards. One of those plays resulted in a takeaway for the defense.

Newcomer Parnell Taylor was looking downfield when he dropped a sure interception that would have resulted in six defensive points on a Hess swing pass.

The defense made two big plays on consecutive snaps. First, transfer Dale Peterman intercepted a Hess overthrow and returned it 50 yards on a second-and-12 play. Then, Marcel Caver was stripped of the football by new arrival Quamane Bryant and fellow newcomer Jameel Smith recovered it.  New faces, new results.

Hess was 9-of-15 for 75 yards and had one touchdown and one interception.  The touchdown was a 20-yard strike to TE Will Shaw.  Adaris Bellamy had nine carries for 41 yards and Torrian Pace had nine chances for 19 yards.

Defensively, newcomer  Julius Childs had seven tackles while returning DB Jeremey Edwards had five.

“We want to continue to diminish our weaknesses and accentuate our strengths”, said Tresey after the scrimmage.

“The first scrimmage was probably a little cleaner than what I would have expected”, said Eric Wolford.  “There were no silly penalties like personal fouls and those sorts of penalties, and I was happy about that.  The defense didn’t surprise me.  This was practice number eleven today, and I know that we are faster and recruited well. It is very clear that we recruited well, we are flying around.”

Red Defeats White, 28-14, In 40th Annual Spring Game


Kurt Hess threw two first-half touchdowns, and fellow quarterback Patrick Angle had 158 passing yards and a touchdown as the Red Team beat the White 28-14 in the 40th Annual Red-White Spring Game on Friday evening at Stambaugh Stadium.

The Red offense and White defense were comprised of first-string players, and the Red defense and White offense were the second-stringers. The first half featured standard timing rules, and the second half had a running clock.

Hess finished 11-for-19 for 154 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, and the junior-to-be spent the second half on the sideline. Angle was 7-for-14 for 94 yards in the first half for the White team, and he was 4-for-8 for 61 yards and a touchdown in the second half for the Red.


Angle and White quarterback Dante Nania connected with wide receiver Andrew Williams nine times for 135 yards, which was a game high. Jelani Berassa led Red with 82 yards and was one of four players to catch a touchdown pass. Carson Sharbaugh and Kevin Watts added scores through the air for the Red team, and Nate Adams had a touchdown reception for the White.

Jordan Thompson rushed for a game-high 67 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries, and Jamaine Cook had 64 yards on 12 carries for the Red. Torrian Pace headlined the White rushing attack with 51 yards and a score on 12 carries.

Pace impressed offensive coordinator, Shane Montgomery.

“Torrian has had a really good Spring for us”, remarked Montgomery.  “He is faster than he was last year.  We know we can’t keep Jamaine [Cook] on the field as much as we have the last two seasons.  With Adaris Bellamy recovering, Jordan [Thompson] and Torrian got some good reps, I feel real good about our depth at that position and at tight end.”


Travis Williams had 10 tackles, including seven in the first quarter, for the White defense.  Josh Garner and Jeremy Edwards played pretty well for the White defense.  That trio of defenders will play a big role in the defensive turnaround efforts targeted for this season.

With the running clock, Angle put the game out of reach on the Red team’s first drive of the fourth quarter. He connected with tight end Will Shaw for a 25-yard gain on third-and-19 to get the ball down to the White 22, and he found Watts for a six-yard score on the 13th play of the drive.

Shaw and the other two tight ends combined for 114 yards and two touchdowns on six catches.

Jimmy May, Jr. intercepted Angle in the second quarter for the game’s lone turnover. The Red team fumbled twice but recovered each. Brandon Neal and Julius Childs both had pass breakups for the White defense.


Kicker David Brown missed a field goal.  We already know that Coach Wolford likes the math sounds of seven being greater than three and if the Penguins will have a weakness in the red zone, it will be the kicking game.

The Penguins will have a light workout on Monday to finish up the spring practice season.

Red-White Scrimmage Action Shows Improving Defense Holding Their Own Against Superb Offense


The Youngstown State football team had a productive two-hour scrimmage on Saturday at Stambaugh Stadium.  Anyone not living under a rock knows that all of the pieces from last season are back on offense this season.  However, a young defense with lots of new faces will continue to thrive and improve.  The defensive unit, unfortunately, is competing against an offense that practically rewrote the record books in 2011.

The Penguins worked on moving-the-ball, red-zone, third-down, four-minute and two-minute situations during the workout, and the offense opened the scrimmage with three consecutive crisp scoring drives.

On the first sequence junior quarterback Kurt Hess engineered a 11-play, 70-yard scoring drive. On the drive, Hess was 5-for-5 while senior tailback Jamaine Cook  (above) ran for 22 yards on five carries. Cook rushed for six yards on a fourth-and-two play from the 33 to extend the drive. Three plays later, Hess connected with Christian Bryan on 17-yard scoring toss.

On the second drive, sophomore quarterback Patrick Angle and junior tailback Torrian Pace went to work. Pace carried the ball four times for 16 yards while Angle was 5-for-5, including a 36-yard strike to tight end Nate Adams. After the defense forced a third-and-goal from the eight, Angle found Jelani Berassa (below) in the back of the end zone for a score capping a 10-play 70-yard march.

Angle led the offense on a 65-yard drive on the following possession. Cook opened the drive with a 25-yard rush while Jordan Thompson followed with carries of five, 18, 13 and three yards. On 3rd-and-4 from the 11-yard line, Angle went to Berassa again for nine yards to pick up a first down. Thompson then found a crack of daylight, scoring from two yards out.

“We are going to start to solidify positions”, said Head Coach Eric Wolford.  “We are pretty deep into this thing.  I was encouraged by things that I saw on both sides of the football.  Overall, we are getting better and there are still missed tackles and things we need to improve on.  Jeremy Edwards did a very good job on Will Shaw downfield today.  Will can run and Jeremy kept him in check.  It’s just an example of the expectations and that we are getting better on that side of the ball.”


“This is a process”, echoed Defensive Line Coach, Tom Sims.  “Last season, Andrew Johnson was a leader on defense, but there really was not much leadership from the linebackers and defensive backs, partly because they are so young.  Ultimately, we want competition.  If the ones get hurt, we should not have to worry about a two going in, the one should worry about the two going in and taking the ones spot.”

The defense held on the next series and then Jimmy May intercepted a Dante Nania overthrow to quickly end the fifth drive.

The Penguins ran four-minute situations with both the top and reserve units. The scrimmage was capped off with a two-minute drill. Hess found Bryan again for a 30-yard scoring toss with 31 seconds left on the first try. The defense held the reserve offense out of the end zone when Angle’s desparation pass fell incomplete on the final play of the workout.

Here are some statistics from the first portion of the scrimmage:  PASSING – Hess 7-of-7 for 66 yards and two touchdowns, Angle 6-of-7 for 70 yards and a TD, Nania 3-of-7 for 22 yards and one interception. RUSHING – Thompson 9-81; Cook 8-53; Pace 6-21. RECEIVING – Bryan 3-54, 2 TDs; Berassa 3-23, TD; Andrew Williams 2-22.

YSU returns to the gridiron on Monday for its 12th practice of the spring. Next week the Penguins are slated to hold workouts Monday and Wednesday before Friday’s annual Red-White Spring Game. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Stambaugh Stadium.

YSU Football Players Honored, Kurt Hess Earns Player of The Year Award


Youngstown State sophomore quarterback Kurt Hess (above) was selected as the team’s John Delserone Most Valuable Player and Outstanding Offensive Player while senior defensive tackle Andrew Johnson was tabbed the team’s Outstanding Defensive Player for the 2011 season.

Hess (Dayton, Ohio) was a first-team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference selection becoming the first quarterback in school history and just the second sophomore in league history to earn the honor. For the season he set the school record for single-season touchdown passes (26), completion percentage (64.5), 200-yard games (eight), touchdown passes in consecutive games (11) and touchdown passes in a game (five vs. Missouri State). Hess had a career-high 187 completions for a career-best 2,468 yards during the campaign.

He is the first Penguin since Brandon Summers in 2008 to earn top offensive player and team MVP in the same season.


Johnson (Detroit, Mich.) was a second-team All-MVFC selection in 2011 and was named the team’s Outstanding Defensive Player and Jermaine Hopkins Defensive Lineman of the Year. led the team with 6.5 sacks and 11.0 tackles for loss. It was the most sacks registered in a regular season since Harry Deligianis had seven in 1997. He finished the year with 39 total tackles, including 27 solo stops. It marks the second straight year that a senior defensive tackle (Torrance Nicholson in 2010) has received both honors.

Junior center Mark Pratt (Tooele, Utah) was a second-team All-MVFC selection in 2011 and was tabbed the team’s Jim Zdelar Offensive Lineman of the Year. Pratt started all 11 games at center in his first year with the program. He was the leader of an offensive line that helped the Guins average a school-record 36.2 points per game and a school-best 458.6 total offensive yards per game.

Sophomore punter Nick Liste (Niles, Ohio) was named the Jeff Wilkins/Paul McFadden Specialist of the Year. Liste averaged 39.8 yards per punt on 53 attempts. Of his 53 attempts, 16 were placed inside the opposition’s 20-yard line while eight went for 50 yards or more.


Senior quarterback Marc Kanetsky (Hubbard, Ohio) was named the recipient of the Dr. Pat Spurgeon Torch Bearer Award and the Four Square Academic Award. Kanetsky was a four-year special teams standout as the team’s holder on placement kicks. He also served as a reserve quarterback and threw touchdown passes as a sophomore and a senior.

Sophomore Torrian Pace (Chantilly, Va.) was selected to receive the Dr. Neal R. Frost Outreach Man of the Year Award. Pace was a reserve tailback and member on special teams for the Penguins in 2011. He has been active on campus as a member of the YSU SAAC the past three years.

Senior tight end David Rogers (Kent, Ohio) was named the Ron Stoops Most Inspirational Player. A fifth-year senior, Rogers wore No. 13 during the season to honor a friend who was killed in Afghanistan. Rogers also returned to be a key contributor following a severe injury in the 2009 season finale at North Dakota State.


Freshman wide receiver Christian Bryan (Irwin, Pa.) was selected as the program’s Newcomer of the Year. Bryan, an honorable-mention All-MVFC pick and member of the conference’s all-newcomer team, led all of FCS freshman with 719 receiving yards in 2011. He was one of 20 finalists for the Jerry Rice Award, which is given to the nation’s top FCS freshman.

Also, for their efforts in the 56-14 Homecoming victory over Western Illinois, the starting offensive line of Andrew Radakovich, Lamar Mady, Pratt, Chris Elkins, and Eric Franklin were the recipients of the YSU Football Alumni Group’s Difference Maker Award.

Penguins Do Little Wrong In 49-23 Win Over Saint Francis


Sometimes Youngstown State University starts a game slowly, something Coach Eric Wolford claimed needed addressed.  Other times the Penguins had problems on both sides of the ball with missed assignments, lining up wrong, and fundamentals.  Against Saint Francis, a game which the Penguins won, 49-23, the maturity of this young team continued to take place.  There were few missed assignments, little that was not properly executed, and everyone looked fundamentally sound for the Penguins.

Jamaine Cook came into the game 4th in the FCS in rushing with 131.2 yards per game.  One of the backs ahead of him at number three on the list was Saint Francis’ Kyle Harbridge.  Cook put on a show, racking up four first half touchdowns and gaining 162 yards on 19 carries.  Harbridge managed to crack 1,000 for the year, but the Penguins RB had the much more productive day.  What was more impressive of Cook’s day was that Saint Francis runs a plus one defense most of the time, meaning they have nine guys in the box.  The line did a great job of picking up the extra man and sprung Cook, Adaris Bellamy, and Jordan Thompson for good yardage all day, to the tune of 450 yards combined on the ground.

“We came out to play up to our standard”, said DT Aronde Stanton.  “We prepared for this game like it was a conference game.  Because there are so many good running backs in our conference, we were prepared to face this kind of an offense that runs the ball.”


The Penguins (4-3, 2-2) never punted in the first half.  Cook had touchdown runs of 1, 4, 8, and 26, to account for his four first half scores, which marked the first time a Penguin scored four times in a game since PJ Mays did it in 2001 against Indiana State.  The Penguins also got a 5-yard touchdown from Bellamy, and Kurt Hess hit Christian Bryan for 19-yard score to account for the 42 first half points for Youngstown State.  Saint Francis managed a 35-yard Josh Thiel field goal.

In the second half, the Penguins sat the starters and Coach Wolford got the depth chart some playing time.  Saint Francis scored a few touchdowns in the second half to salvage some pride on offense.  The damage was pretty well done in the first half though and the Penguins and Wolford can be content with the first unit’s play on both sides of the ball.  The Penguins, however, put some icing on the cake when Jordan Thompson tore off a 95-yard touchdown run, off right tackle, tying a school record.  Thompson will be a force to be reckoned with going forward and he is finally 100% after suffering a shoulder injury early in the season.

“I didn’t know I had tied a record”, said Thompson.  “We have a bunch of talented backs and we were able to make some plays against a plus one defense, forcing misses.  I am happy to get the ball and contribute.”


For Saint Francis (1-6), Harbridge finished the game with 117 yards on 28 carries (he had 52 yards in the first half).  John Kelly threw for 288 yards on 16 completions in 28 attempts (including a 70-yard TD) and had 5 rushing yards and a score on the ground.

The Penguins really distributed the ball well in both halves.  Cook finished with 162 yards on 19 carries.  Thompson, aided with his 95-yard score, finished with 135 yards on 4 carries  (33.8 ypc).   Hess was 11-14 for 172 yards and a touchdown again doing a very efficient job of managing the offense.  Bryan finished with four catches for 49 yards and a score.  Torrian Pace got 15 carries in the second half and finished with 81 yards.

Defensively, Josh Garner and Aronde Stanton finished with five tackles each an Andrew Johnson recorded a sack. Sir Taylor nabbed an interception and returned it 42 yards, just missing a 65-yard touchdown when the last possible tackler tripped him up near the YSU sideline.

The first meeting of these two teams since 1953 ended sort of lopsided, but both coaches will have things to build upon despite the wide scoring differential.  Youngstown State will jump back into conference play when they welcome Western Illinois to town for Homecoming next weekend.  Saint Francis will host Central Connecticut State.


Coach Wolford talked about the victory at the postgame press conference.  “You always worry that the team will look at the record of the other team and have preconceived notions of chalking up a win.  Upsets happen all of the time and this team posed some challenges with a solid running game.  We did good things in the first half against the ‘plus one’ look, and defensively, the only thing that had me worried was the abundance of penalties.  We continue to strive though, and are putting things further behind us.  We now have to get ready for Western Illinois.”

One of the things about Wolford that has become more obvious to me over the past couple of weeks is his character.  I knew he had a big heart because of his ‘paying ahead’ attitude and charitable contributions through No Stone Unturned.  However, what I learned about this guy in the last 48 hours is that he worries about the personality and character of his players as responsible young men.  Everything from what they eat the night before a game, to what they do in their spare time, to the value of their education.  Wins and losses aside, Eric Wolford is now a better fit, in my mind, more than I ever could have imagined.  He is honest, refuses to make excuses, has tackled adversity head-on several times in just his second season, and more than anything — finds time for everyone.

Call me a mark.  Call me a homer.  Call me anything you would like.  Facts are facts.  Wolford is solid.

Penguins Make A Statement in Lopsided 77-13 Win Over Valpo


On Saturday, Youngstown State University broke a lot of things.  The first thing they broke was Valparaiso, racking up a lopsided 77-13 victory.  They also broke school records for the most points scored in a quarter (35), most points in a half (63), and longest punt return (96 yards).  The game was so lopsided that running a continuous clock should have been an option for the second half.  The other thing broken was YSU’s eight-game losing streak.  Amazingly, YSU broke the record for points in a game, with 70, in the third quarter.  It was Lionel vs Fisher Price, Ali vs Cooney, and Mercedes vs Yugo.

Eric Wolford commented on the win.  “We showed a lot of maturity.  Last season after Penn State, there was a letdown.  This season after losing to Michigan State, we showed great maturity with no letdown and played a pretty good football game.  Next week we start conference play and I don’t want to get caught up because we scored 77 points this week.  We will continue to mature as this young team picks up experience each week.”

The Penguins scored on every possession in the first half and held a 63-6 lead at the break.  Marc Kanetsky took over at quarterback in the second quarter.  It was a game that the whole depth chart was used in intervals at some point.

YSU scored 35 points in the first quarter.  Jamaine Cook scored two touchdowns (1, 31) and Jordan Thompson punched in a pair (9, 10).  The other touchdown was an electrifying 96-yard punt return by Josh Lee breaking a 45 year-old school record of 92 yards.


In the second quarter, the Penguins kept scoring.  Adaris Bellamy, the best-kept secret on the team, had a couple of rushing touchdowns from 34 and 13 yards out. Kurt Hess hit David Rogers for a 16-yard TD.  He also found Andre Barboza from 24 yards out.  The Penguins avearged 11.1 yards per play in the first half and the word dominant would be an understatement.

Bellamy and Cook both cracked the 100-yard mark in the first half.  Cook had 126 yards and Bellamy tacked on 101, both in the first half.  It was the first time two YSU backs had 100 yards each since 2008 when Jabari Scott and Cameron Keys did it.  The Penguins amassed 476 yards in the opening half.  They would finish the game with 657 yards, another new school record.

In the second half, Coach Wolford emptied the cupboard and YSU mounted an opening drive that would result in a Torrian Pace 17-yard run.  Pace was the fourth running back to score a touchdown.  The drive was 14 plays covering 84 yards without a single pass attempt by Kanetsky.  70-6 YSU.  The 70 points set  a school record for most points scored in a game.


Parnell Taylor scored YSU’s last touchdown to make it 77-6.  The score, a two-yard plunge, was the first in the YSU career of Taylor.  Patrick Angle got some time engineering a 14 play-86 yard drive to round out the scoring for the Penguins.  Valpo punched one in late to close out the scoring at 77-13.

Adaris Bellamy led the way on the ground for the Penguins with 180 yards on 23 carries (7.8 yards per carry).  Afterwards Bellamy talked about the successful effort of the team.  “We came out ready to play just like we did last week against Michigan State, it doesn’t matter who we are playing.  Our goal is to go undefeated every week, break records every week, and get this program back to the way people are used to seeing, this kind of Penguin football.”

Christian Bryan had five grabs for 78 yards to lead the receivers.  Kurt Hess was 12 of 13 for 204 yards, 2 TD’s and no turnovers.  The only incompletion Hess had was a drop.  For Valpo, Eric Hoffman threw 30 passes, completed 14 and had 112 yards passing.  He was sacked three times.  Kevin Becker hauled in three for 38 yards for the Crusaders.  Dale Cook had seven carries for 39 yards for Valpo.

Davion Rogers had some impressive plays, both on defense, and one exceptional effort on special teams.  Rogers ran over a potential blocker in the Valpo punt return wall and then proceeded to floor another would-be blocker two steps later before burying the return man.  You can’t ask for much more than that from a special teams player.  “We [defensive unit] take great pride knowing that we push the offense in practice and make them better each week”, commented Rogers.  ”  It had been 352 days since we won here.  We have some great players and we are going to take many huge steps this year.”

Mercifully, YSU turned the ball over on downs deep in Valpo territory ending their string of eleven straight touchdowns.

Give Wolford a gold star for showing a lot of class and calling off the dogs the entire second half.  Make no mistake about it, YSU could have put up a C-note today.  Wolford and Shane Montgomery did not call for a single pass and kept running the ball to keep the clock moving.

“I talked with their coach [Carlson] after the game”, said Wolford.  “He was very complimentary of our program and I told him that I was impressed that his guys kept playing hard.  They are in a very similar situation that we were in, trying to turn a program around with 48 new guys.”

YSU opens conference play next week at 4 p.m. when Illinois State rolls into town.

** Bottom Photo, courtesy of Ron Stevens.

Despite Poor Weather, 39th YSU Red – White Game Shows Major Potential For 2011


Remember when you were a kid and believed that March came in like a lion and went out like a lamb?  Inclement weather has dominated Spring 2011 thus far and Groundhog Day is turning into a bigger commercial farce than Sweetest Day.  The good news is that despite sloppy playing conditions, the 39th Annual Red-White game happened, and the play was anything but sloppy.

Both offense and defense took turns shining on both sides of the ball.  The White team raced out to a 17-0 lead and held on for a 24-14 victory.  Sophomore running back Allen Jones ran for 159 yards, but the real story is the White defense holding the Red offense, which is the first-team starting offense, to just 14 points.

Before the game started, Coach Eric Wolford ran over to the home sideline and started a comical rant.  Looking at me, he said, “It’s beautiful out here today, good day to get some sun.  I’m gonna work on my tan, should have brought my lotion.  Did you bring any I can use?”


The White team reached into their bag of tricks on the very first play of the game.  Torrian Pace took a pitch on an apparent sweep right.  Pace, doing a good job showing a run, threw the ball downfield to Pat White.  White had to come out of the end zone to catch the ball at the one as it was slightly under thrown.  On the next play, Pace tallied on a one-yard touchdown to put the White ahead, 7-0.

Patrick Angle hooked up with White (above) in the corner of the end zone on a ten yard corner route to put the White team ahead, 14-0.  A dropped pass in the end zone would force the White group to settle on a David Brown 25-yard field goal to jump the lead to 17-0.

Jamaine Cook put his Red team on the board when he powered in from two yards out for six points to cut the margin to 17-7.  Earlier in the drive, Cook ran 22 yards on a 4th-and-1.  Kurt Hess also contributed on the drive as he would find Andre Barboza on a 4th-and-6 for 22 more yards to get to the White’s two yard line.


With just under four minutes to go in the first half, Cook broke what looked to be a long run but was stripped of the ball by Josh Lee and Donald D’Alesio recovered the loose football to secure the 10-point lead to halftime.

On the second offensive play of the second half for the White team, Jones raced 94 yards to pay dirt, which would be the only points of the second half for the White.  The Red would later got the ball back and went into two-minute mode in a second half that featured a continuous clock.  Hess had a nice drive connecting with Barboza twice and David Rogers once before hitting Adaris Bellamy on a swing pass that would go 23 yards for a touchdown to cut the White lead to 24-14.


Hess (above) finished the game 11-19 for 139 yards and a touchdown.  His big target of the day was Barboza who hauled in four Hess aerials for 69 yards.  For the White, Pat White was the top receiver with five catches for 68 yards and a touchdown.

Defensively, Kyle Sirl had eight tackles, three for a loss, for the Red.  Sirl and Ethan Stark recorded a pair of sacks each.  Obinna Ekweremuba had seven tackles to lead the White team, with two of those stops resulting in yardage losses.

The honorary coaches stayed dry as they were sitting upstairs in the enclosed press boxes.  Chatting with Eric Ryan, Tim Ryan, and Harry Meshel before the game started was enjoyable.

Last year, with very favorable weather, the Red-White game was Wolford’s coming out party.  There was a good crowd and a festive atmosphere.  This year, the luster may not have been as bright, but there were still people in the stands.  Conversely, the level of football played last season at this time, was a group of guys trying to grasp a system.  This year, it was mostly returning players who knew the system trying not to get hurt on a sloppy field.  Should be a great season and Wolford has things where they need to be at this point, the conclusion of Spring Football.