Terre Haute, Ind. – The Youngstown State football team fell behind by as many as 21 points in the first quarter, but mounted a valiant comeback that fell just short in a 37-35 loss to Missouri Valley Football Conference foe Indiana State on Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium.
The Guins fall to 2-2 overall and 1-1 in the MVFC while the Sycamores improve to 3-1 overall and 1-0 in the conference.
Indiana State's Shakir Bell set an ISU school single-game record with 256 yards rushing with four touchdowns, all in the first half. Bell had touchdown runs of 62, 39, 61 and 51 yards in the first half.
Ironically, the game's decisive play happened when Bell fumbled in the second quarter. The Guins had just cut the score to 27-14, when on the next Sycamore possession, Bell fumbled at the ISU 22 and YSU's Aronde Stanton recovered and returned for 21 yards. However, Stanton fumbled out of the endzone from the ISU one-yard line resulting in a touchback.
Five plays later, Bell, who rushed for 215 yards in the first half, exploded for a 51-yard touchdown run – his fourth of the first half – to put the Sycamores back up by 20 points, 34-14, with 4:03 left in the second quarter. Bell had first-half touchdown rushes of 62, 39, 62 and 51 yards.
The Guins answered with an eight-play, 73-yard drive capped by a three-yard touchdown run by Cook to bring the Guins to within 34-21 at halftime.
Sophomore quarterback Kurt Hess completed 25-of-41 passes for 224 yards with two touchdown passes to sophomore Jelani Berassa. Junior running back Jamaine Cook rushed for 177 yards with two touchdowns.
Berassa caught six passes for 44 yards and freshman Christian Bryan had six receptions for a team-high 72 yards.
The Guins trailed 21-0 in the first quarter and 34-21 at halftime before outscoring the Sycamores 14-3 in the second half.
Trailing by nine points and needing a touchdown, Hess engineered the Guins on a 12-play, 76-yard scoring drive and hit Berassa from four yards out to bring the Guins within two, 37-35, with just 1:21 left in the game.
The Guins' ensuing on-side kick went out of bounds at the YSU 38-yard line. After converting one first down, the Sycamores were able to run out the clock.
Trailing 34-21 at the half, the Guins got within six points, 34-28, when Cook scored his second touchdown of the game at the 13:10 mark of the fourth quarter to cap a 16-play, 86-yard scoring drive. The Guins converted their third fourth-down situation when Hess hit Carson Sharbaugh on a 10-yard completion on 4th-and-3 from the ISU 27-yard line on the last play of the third quarter.
With the Guins getting within a touchdown and securing some momentum, ISU's Fouch hit Michael Mardis on a 67-yard gain, but senior Scott Setner made a touchdown-saving tackle at the YSU 12-yard line. The Guins defense tensed up and stuffed Bell on 3rd-and-1 and forced ISU to kick a 22-yard field goal to go up 38-27 with 10:20 to go, which turned out to be the difference.
The Guins quickly found themselves in a big hole falling behind 21-0 in the first quarter. On the first play from scrimmage, ISU's Shakir Bell scampered 62 yards to give the Sycamores a 7-0 lead just 18 seconds into the game.
The Guins did not pick up a first down until under four minutes left in the first quarter while the Sycamores scored on three of their first four possessions.
Bell put the Sycamores up 14-0 with a 39-yard touchdown run at the 11:11 mark of the first quarter.
After forcing another YSU punt, Ronnie Fouch hit Leonard Riston on a 11-yard touchdown pass to extend the ISU lead to 21-0 with 4:38 left in the first quarter.
The Guins finally got on the scoreboard when sophomore Jordan Thompson scampered 15 yards for a touchdown to close out the first quarter and cap an 11-play, 91-yard drive to cut the deficit to 21-7.
Bell, who had 98 yards rushing in the first quarter, ran 62- yards for a touchdown on the Sycamores' first play of the second quarter to push the lead to 27-7 at 14:42 to go in the second quarter. ISU kicker Cory Little missed the extra-point attempt.
The Guins march 52 yards in nine plays to cut deficit to 27-14 with 7:02 left. Hess hit Berassa on a four-yard touchdown pass. Guins converted two fourth-and-one situations to keep the drive alive, including a 22-yard dash by Cook to the ISU 16-yard line. Cook also rushed for three yards to convert a 4th-and-1 at the ISU to keep the drive alive.
Hess hit Berassa on the next play.
The Guins are idle next week then return to action to host Missouri Valley Football Conference foe South Dakota State, Saturday, Oct. 8, at 4 p.m. at Stambaugh Stadium.