Youngstown – Youngstown State made big plays in all three phases of the game and turned in an impressive all-around team effort en route to a 56-14 win over Missouri Valley Football Conference foe Western Illinois on Saturday afternoon at Stambaugh Stadium.
The Penguins improve to 5-3 overall and 3-2 in the MVFC while the Leathernecks fall to 2-6 overall and 1-3 in the conference.
The Guins' offense accumulated 488 yards and tied a school record with five touchdown passes against the Leathernecks. It tied the mark set against Slippery Rock in 1994.
The defense was just as dominant allowing just 120 total yards in the first half and a total of 136 yards through the air for the game. The defense also intercepted two passes that led to two touchdowns.
Special teams also got in on the turnover act forcing two fumbles on WIU punt returns which led to two more touchdowns. The last time YSU forced four turnovers was against Southern Illinois in 2010.
Sophomore quarterback Kurt Hess completed 8-of-11 passes for 224 yards and a school-record-tying four touchdowns, including TD passes of 70 and 69 yards. Hess is just the second player in school history to throw for four touchdowns in twice in a season.
Hess also threw four TD passes against Illinois State on Sept. 17. The only other quarterback to throw for four touchdowns twice in a season was Keith Snoddy in 1979.
It also marks the 11th time in 19 career games that Hess has thrown for 200-plus yards, which ranks third in school history.
The Guins jumped on top quickly 7-0 scoring the game's first play from scrimmage – a 70-yard touchdown pass from Hess to Christian Bryan with 14:42 left in the opening quarter.
Three plays later, Hess, who was 6-for-9 for 190 yards passing with three touchdown passes in the first half, scampered in on an option play from 13-yards out to put the Guins ahead, 14-0, with 8:55 remaining in the first quarter.
Cook, who rushed for all of his 96 yards on 16 carries before halftime, put the Guins up 21-0 with 3:26 to go in the first when he capped a 69-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown plunge. Cook accounted for 63 of the 69 yards on the drive.
On the final play of the first quarter, Hess hit Jelani Berassa on a 69-yard scoring strike to give the Guins a 28-0 lead.
On the Leathernecks first possession of the second quarter, defensive lineman Aronde Stanton picked off a Josh Hudson pass at the WIU 46 and returned it to the their 27-yard line.
After a YSU sideline penalty, Cook rushed four straight times and scored from four yards out for his second touchdown of the game to put the Guins ahead, 35-0, with 12:18 left in the second quarter.
After the teams traded punts, sophomore Jeremey Edwards intercepted a Hudson pass to the Western Illinois two-yard line.
An unsportsmanlike penalty placed the ball on the WIU 17-yard line and Hess threw his third touchdown pass of the game, a 17-yarder to a leaping Kevin Watts with 4:55 left before halftime.
On their first possession of the third quarter, the Guins marched 77 yards in seven plays keyed by a Hess 23-yard rush on 3rd-and-7, and capped by a Hess-to-Kintrell Disher 28-yard touchdown pass with 9:01 left to extend the lead to 49-0.
The Leathernecks' Niko Wilson scored on a five-yard touchdown run to cut the deficit to 49-7 with 5:21 left in the third.
On the ensuing possession, the Guins marched 56-yards in seven plays to take a 56-7 lead with 29 second left in the quarter when senior Marc Kanetsky hit senior Ely Ducatel on an 11-yard touchdown pass.
The Leathernecks added another scored with 11:08 left in the game when Hudson hit Terriun Crump on a four-yard touchdown pass to slicing YSU's lead to 56-14.
The Penguins visit No. 2 Northern Iowa, Saturday, Nov. 5, at 5:05 p.m. in Cedar Falls, Iowa.