Crucial Matchup on Tap As Penguins Host Sycamores

Nick DeKraker
Nick DeKraker

    The Youngstown State football team plays its final home game of the regular season when it entertains Indiana State on Saturday. Kickoff at Stambaugh Stadium is set for 2:05 p.m. The game will be carried on WKBN 570 AM/iHeartRadio as well as MyYTV.
     The Penguins (6-4 overall and 3-4 in the MVFC) will be looking to win seven games in a season for the first time since 2007 on Saturday against the Sycamores.
YSU enters the game on a two-game winning streak following an impressive all-around performance at Western Illinois. The Penguins scored the final 24 points of the game to pull away from the Leathernecks. TB Jamaine Cook led the way with 113 yards on 32 carries and had two touchdowns.
     With the contest tied at seven late in the second quarter, Kurt Hess scored from three yards out to put YSU in front 14-7 just before halftime. David Brown extended the Penguins' lead to 17-7 with a 31-yard field goal in the third quarter before touchdown runs by Cook and Torrian Pace in the fourth quarter put the contest out of reach. The YSU defense held WIU to just 142 yards in the game, including only 52 on the ground. Western did not gain a first down in the second half and was held to 33 total yards.
    No. 18 Indiana State (7-3 and 5-2) enters the contest with a shot of earning a piece of the MVFC crown with a victory. The Sycamores were idle last week after losing their home finale 17-10 to Illinois State on Nov. 3. Indiana State trailed 17-0 in that contest before scoring 10 points late to make things interesting.
    Indiana State had a five-game winning streak snapped by the Redbirds. However, on the road this season, the Sycamores are 3-0 in league play with wins at Southern Illinois, North Dakota State and Western Illinois.
    This is the 22nd meeting between the programs. After YSU won 18 of the first 19 games, Indiana State has won the last two by scores of 30-24 (2010) and 37-35 (2011).
Prior to the contest, YSU's 14 seniors will be honored on Senior Day at Stambaugh Stadium.

ISU Information
• The Penguins will be looking to win three games in November for the first time since 2006, which included a playoff win over James Madison.
• QB Kurt Hess is tied for the school record in career touchdown passes at 51.
• TB Jamaine Cook is 51 all-purpose yards shy of setting a new school career mark. The current record is 5,128 set by Tamron Smith (1990-93). Cook has 5,077 yards in his career.
• Cook is also just 72 yards rushing shy of 4,000 for his career and trails Adrian Brown (1996-99) by 50 yards for second place all-time in school history.
• The Penguins have registered 13 sacks in the past four games. In the six previous contests, they had seven. DT Nick DeKraker has sacks in four straight games.
• Sophomore WR Christian Bryan has caught a pass in 21 straight games.
• YSU has had double-digit leads in eight of its 10 games this season and had the lead at halftime seven times.
• The Penguins have scored a touchdown in all 10 first quarters this season.
• A group of 14 players will be playing in their final home game for the Penguins - OT Andrew Radakovich, OT D.J. Main, OG Lamar Mady, C Mark Pratt, TB Jamaine Cook, TE Will Shaw, TE Chuck Lengyel, SS Jeremey Edwards, CB Deionte Williams, DT Nick DeKraker, DT Aronde Stanton, DE Josh Fenderson,  DE Luis Quinones and PK David Brown.

Western Illinois Notes
• YSU scored on its first drive of the game and first drive of the second half.
• During the game, WR Christian Bryan went over 1,000 yards receiving for his career (1,010) and TB Adaris Bellamy went over 1,000 yards rushing for his career (1,016).
• In the second half, WIU had 33 yards total offense, went three-and-out four times and did not register a first down.
• TB Jamaine Cook had 32 rushing attempts and caught two passes and finished with 129 all-purpose yards. WIU had 42 total plays for 142 yards.
• The Penguins have allowed fewer than 100 rushing yards in three of the past four games.
• The 39:52 time of possession was the most this season. The 31 points were the most since scoring 42 in a win vs. UNI. The 60 rushing attempts were a season high.
• YSU had more first downs (22-5), total plays (82-41), total offensive yards (372-142), rushing yards (225-52), passing yards (147-90), passing completions (14-10), time of possession (39:52-20:08) and third-down conversions (10-2).

Western Illinois Recap
    Youngstown State scored the final 24 points of the contest to earn a 31-7 win over Western Illinois at Hanson Field in Macomb, Ill., last Saturday.
    TB Jamaine Cook rushed for 113 yards and scored two touchdowns while the defense had a solid all-around performance allowing just 142 total offensive yards.
    YSU jumped out to a 7-0 lead on its first possession of the game. Cook capped an impressive 13-play, 75-yard drive with a two-yard score at the 8:54 mark. The Leathernecks tied the game late in the first when Hayden Northern scored on fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line with 1:39 left.
    The Penguins went back on top late in the second quarter when QB Kurt Hess found paydirt with just 39 seconds left before halftime.
    In the second half, YSU put the clamps on Western's offense while the Penguins scored 17 points. WIU had just 33 yards of total offense and did not pick up a first down in the second half.
    David Brown's 31-yard field goal midway through the period extended YSU's lead to 17-7. In the fourth quarter, Cook scored on a one-yard run to give the Penguins a 24-7 lead. Torrian Pace capped off the scoring on a 15-yard run with 4:22 left.

2011 Recap | ISU 37, YSU 35
    The Penguins battled the final 50 minutes trying to dig out of a 21-0 hole, but in the end they came up just short losing 37-35 to Indiana State at Memorial Stadium in Terre Haute, Ind., last season.
    The Sycamores shot out of the gate scoring 21 points in just over 10 minutes to put the Guins in a tight spot.
    YSU scored on the final play of the first quarter, but Shakir Bell answered with a 61-yard run on the first play of the second.
    Kurt Hess connected with Jelani Berassa on a four-yard pass midway through the period, but Bell's fourth touchdown of the first half gave ISU a 34-14 lead. Jamaine Cook found the end zone in the final minute of the first half as the Guins trailed 34-21 at the break.
    After a scoreless third quarter, YSU pulled within 34-28 early in the fourth on a one-yard run by Cook. But a 22-yard field goal by Cory Little pushed the lead to nine. YSU was able to get within two on a toss from Hess to Berassa with just over a minute left.

Final Saturday
    The final Saturday of Missouri Valley Football Conference action could be another wild one.
    If North Dakota State defeats Illinois State, the Bison will win the MVFC's automatic bid. If the Redbirds win, as many as four teams could tie for the MVFC crown.
Clamping down on the run
    The YSU defense ranks sixth nationally in the FCS against the run, holding opponents to 98.4 yards per contest. The Penguins are second in the MVFC behind North Dakota State.
    The last time the Penguins allowed fewer than 100 yards on average in a season was 1994 (85.7 per contest). This Saturday the Penguins face another challenge in Indiana State's Shakir Bell. Bell ranks fifth in the FCS averaging 142.1 yards per game.
    Youngstown State has allowed 121 yards or fewer in eight games this season.
    Last Saturday, Western Illinois was held to 52 yards on 23 attempts.
    South Dakota had 121 yards rushing against the Guins. South Dakota State had 65 yards rushing on 31 carries, a week after Southern Illinois had 71 yards on 34 attempts.
     In the past four games, YSU has 24 tackles for losses, including 13 sacks. YSU has had three sacks or more in three of the last four games.

Also Tough on the Pass
    In the past two games, YSU has held its opponents to under 100 yards passing.
    Western Illinois had 90 yards through the air against the Penguins on Saturday. In the meantime YSU allowed just 85 yards passing to South Dakota, the lowest total since Indiana State had 79 in 2009.

Hess Ties Career Mark
    Junior QB Kurt Hess tied the school record for career touchdown passes with his 51st against South Dakota. Hess connected on a three-yard toss to TE Nate Adams at the 6:13 mark of the first quarter.
    Hess reached the 51 mark in his 30th career game. Former Penguin Tom Zetts threw the 51st TD pass of his career in the final contest of a four-year starting career.
    Hess is 136 yards shy of eclipsing the 2,000 yard mark for the season. He passed for more than 2,000 as a freshman and sophomore.

Last Ten Quarters
    The Penguins have played some solid football in the past 10 quarters.
    In the final half against South Dakota State, YSU outscored the Jackrabbits 21-6. The Penguins have won their past two games by scores of 13-10 over South Dakota and 31-7 at Western Illinois.
    Statistically, YSU has been dominant in that time frame. The Penguins had 244 yards of total offense to SDSU's 100 in the second. Against USD, the Penguins had 361 yards compared to 206 for the Coyotes. At WIU, YSU had a 372-142 advantage in total offense. In the past 10 quarters, YSU has a 977-458 advantage in total yardage.

Cook Nearing 4,000
    Senior TB Jamaine Cook is 72 yards rushing shy of reaching 4,000 for his stellar career. In 42 career games, Cook has rushed for 3,928 yards. Of those, an impressive 2,928 have come in 31 conference games.
    Since taking over the starting tailback duties in 2010, Cook has rushed for 3,817 yards in 32 contests. He has averaged 119.3 yards per game since the start of his sophomore year. In contrast, he had just 111 total rushing yards as a freshman.
    In his last 23 MVFC games, he has rushed for a total of 2,864 yards while averaging 124.5 per contest.
    On the strength of his 113-yard performance against South Dakota, Cook now ranks fifth among current FCS running backs for career yardage - just ahead of ISU's Shakir Bell.

All-Purpose Mark in Sight
    TB Jamaine Cook is closing in on setting the school record for career all-purpose yards.
    Cook has 5,077 all-purpose yards and trails just Tamron Smith by 51 yards for the most yards in school history. Smith had 5,128 yards in his YSU career from 1990-93. Smith also had the benefit of numerous playoff games.
    In his career, Cook has 3,928 yards rushing, 614 on kickoff returns and 535 receiving.

Defensive Line Difference
    The members of the defensive line have made a big impact the past three games.
    Aronde Stanton, Nick DeKraker, Kyle Sirl and Josh Fenderson have combined for 54 tackles in the past four contests.
    Stanton has been a one-man wrecking crew. In that time frame he has 19 total tackles, including 12 solo stops. Of those 19 tackles, he has seven TFLs and four sacks. He also returned a fumbled interception for a touchdown against South Dakota State.
    DeKraker has 17 tackles, including five sacks. He had a sack for a four-yard loss at Western Illinois and now has been credited with a sack in four straight games.

Really Young Receivers
    A group of young receivers has had to step up for the Penguins this season.
    Of the 101 catches by the YSU wide receivers this season, 96 have been by freshmen or sophomores. Sophomore Christian Bryan leads the group with 25 while redshirt freshmen Andrew Williams has 23 and Andre Stubbs has 19.
    Williams has been the go-to target lately with 20 receptions in the past six games.
    YSU's tight ends, led by senior Will Shaw, have combined for 44 receptions this season. Shaw leads the team with 32 grabs.
    The lone junior wide receiver to see action this year is Kevin Watts. Watts has five catches in eight games played. Junior Jelani Berassa is out for the year with a knee injury.
    YSU's tight ends have 44 receptions for 536 yards and eight touchdowns. The wide receivers have six scoring catches this year.

Hess Among FCS' Best
    Junior QB Kurt Hess ranks 12th among active FCS quarterbacks in career passing efficiency. Hess's 51 touchdown passes are 14th among active players while his 6,450yards are 17th and his 522 completions are 18th.
    In his last 20 games (each start the past two years), Hess has thrown 39 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions.

Cook Finding His Stride
    With the arrival of conference play, senior TB Jamaine Cook's production has increased. In seven league games, he has rushed for 854 yards on 187 attempts. He is averaging 122 yards per game so far, which ranks him second in the MVFC. In the seven games, he has scored 10 of the Guins' 14 rushing touchdowns. Cook ran for a season-high 203 yards against South Dakota.

Red-Zone Success
    YSU continues to convert at a high success rate in the red zone under Head Coach Eric Wolford.
    The Penguins are 34-of-42 inside the red-zone this season (81 percent). YSU was 5-of-6 at Western Illinois, went 2-of-3 vs. South Dakota, 2-of-4 at South Dakota State, 3-of-4 against Southern Illinois, was 4-of-4 at Illinois State, went 1-of-3 at NDSU, was 2-of-2 vs. UNI, 5-of-5 against Albany, 7-of-8 vs. Valparaiso and 3-of-3 at Pittsburgh. The Guins have scored 30 touchdowns and made four field goals in those trips.
    In his 31 games as coach, the Penguins are 117-for-135 (86.6 percent) inside the red zone. In 47 visits last year, the Penguins scored 39 touchdowns and kicked three field goals. YSU scored a total of 280 points on 42 of those 47 visits (89.4 percent). During Wolford's first campaign in 2010, YSU was 41-of-45 in the red zone for a conversion percentage of 91.1 percent.

Shaw Grows into Role
    Senior TE Will Shaw has caught a team-high 32 passes in his first full season as a tight end. Last year, Shaw had eight receptions, seven of which came near the end of the season.
    He leads the Penguins with five receiving touchdowns and 417 yards. Shaw has caught a pass in each game this season, including a career-high 10 receptions for 120 yards at South Dakota State.
    In his last 11 games, Shaw has 39 receptions, including seven for touchdowns. He had two touchdown catches in the victory at Pitt. He also had scoring grabs against Valparaiso, UNI and SDSU. He had two TDs in last year's season finale vs. Missouri State.

Providing Protection
    In 32 games under Head Coach Eric Wolford, YSU has allowed just 32 sacks. Conversely, junior quarterback Kurt Hess has started all of those contests. Of those 32 sacks, five came in two games against Indiana State (two in 2010 and three in 2011). Through 10 games, YSU has allowed only eight sacks this season. The Guins rank tied for ninth in the FCS in fewest sacks allowed per game.
    The YSU offensive line has surrendered just 19 sacks in the last 22 games overall.
    Only seven times in the 32 games have the Guins allowed more than one sack, and four of those came in 2010. In the contests against Pittsburgh, Michigan State and Penn State, the Penguins allowed a total of one sack (PSU).

Experienced Offense
    The Penguins offense features an experienced group.
    QB Kurt Hess has started 32 straight games while TB Jamaine Cook has started 31 of the past 32.
    Junior OG Chris Elkins has started 25 consecutive games, the longest streak on the offensive line. Senior OG Lamar Mady has the second-longest active streak at 21 starts. C Mark Pratt had started 18 consecutive games before being sidelined at South Dakota State with an ankle injury.
    OT D.J. Main has started 13 straight games and 27 in his career. OT Andrew Radakovich did not play in each of the past three games, and had his consecutive starting streak end at 36 earlier this year.
    Sophomore WR Christian Bryan has logged 21 consecutive starts while senior TE Will Shaw has started all 10 games this year.
    Redshirt freshman WR Andrew Williams and junior OT Kyle Bryant were in the starting lineup for the past five games.

Turning Up the Pressure
    YSU has registered 13 sacks the past four weeks with four each against South Dakota State and Southern Illinois, three vs. South Dakota and two at Western Illinois
    For the season, the Penguins now have 20 sacks for 103 yards in losses. NT Nick DeKraker leads the way with five while DT Aronde Stanton has four. Nine other players have at least one sack. Stanton leads the team with 7.5 tackles for losses.
    In 2011, YSU had 23 sacks and 56 tackles for loss. The 23 sacks were the most since the Penguins registered 28 in 2007.

Senior Day Success
    The Penguins have won six of their last eight home finales to send their seniors off on a positive note. Since 2001, YSU is 8-3 in home finales, losing to Missouri State in 2011, Indiana State in 2010 and Western Kentucky in 2003.

Spreading the Wealth
    The Penguins have five players on the defense with 44-or-more tackles. Sophomore LB Teven Williams has wrestled the lead in tackles away following a 10-stop effort at Western Illinois. Williams now has 57 for the season. Travis Williams now ranks second with 55, but leads the team with 34 single stops. Senior SS Jeremey Edwards leads the secondary with 46 tackles. Junior CB Dale Peterman has 45, including 33 unassisted stops. Sophomore CB Julius Childs has 44 tackles on the campaign.

Brown Keeps Delivering
    Senior PK David Brown had his streak of 36 made PATs and six straight field goals snapped against South Dakota.
    Brown has had two long streaks in his career when it comes to PATs. He made 36 spanning from the final game of 2011 until last Saturday. He also made 35 at one point during the 2011 season, his first with the program.
    In his career, Brown has made 7-of-9 field-goal attempts. On PAT tries he is now 92-of-96. He made a 41-yard FG at Western Illinois.

Stubbs All-Around Player
    Redshirt freshman Andre Stubbs, who is a member of the Jerry Rice Watch List, had a career-best 206 all-purpose yards against Southern Illinois on Oct. 27.
    He posted 121 yards on five kickoff returns and caught a career-high five passes for a personal-best 78 yards in the loss. He also returned three punts and had three rushing attempts.
    It was the fifth time he eclipsed 100 all-purpose yards in a game this season.
    Stubbs had 170 yards at North Dakota State, including a career-high 148 yards on kickoff returns. Stubbs had 172 at Pittsburgh, 155 against UNI and 124 versus Albany.
    He did not play against South Dakota and Western Illinois because of an injury.

Shaw Sets Reception Mark
    Senior TE Will Shaw set a position record for receptions in a game with 10 at South Dakota State. Shaw had 10 receptions for a career-high 120 yards and a touchdown against the Jackrabbits. He is the first Penguin with 10 receptions in a game since Dominique Barnes had 10 grabs vs. Indiana State in 2010.

Stanton Steps Up
    Senior DT Aronde Stanton had the most tackles for losses by a Penguin in 11 seasons on Oct. 20 vs. Southern Illinois.
    Stanton had 4.5 tackles for losses and two sacks against the Salukis. He was credited with a career-high 10 total tackles, while having a career-best seven solo stops.
    Entering the game against SIU, Stanton had 14 total tackles and just 0.5 TFLs. It was the most TFLs by a Penguin since Russell Stuvaints  had six against Western Illinois in 2001.

Bryan Is Mr. Dependable
    Sophomore WR Christian Bryan has caught a pass in every game of his YSU career while hauling in a touchdown pass in almost half of them.
    In 21 career games played, Bryan has caught a touchdown pass in nine of them. He has started every game as well.
    This season he has 25 receptions for 288 yards and three touchdowns. Last season, Bryan had a team-leading 46 receptions for 722 yards and six touchdowns. He has 1,010 yards receiving in his career.

Picking up The Pace
    Junior TB Torrian Pace has provided a spark for the Penguins this year. Pace has rushed for 316 yards on 61 carries this season. Entering the year, Pace had 203 yards on 38 carries in his career.
    This year he has scored three key fourth-quarter touchdowns. Against Albany, Pace scored on fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line with 2:48 left. That touchdown increased YSU's lead from three to 10 points. Against UNI, he scored the game-tying touchdown in the fourth quarter with 7:07 left. He scored on a 15-yard run at Western Illinois.
    Earlier this year, Pace rushed for a career-high 146 yards on 14 carries and scored two touchdowns against Valparaiso.

Single Digits in Fumbles
    The Guins have lost six fumbles this season and are looking to continue a school-record run of fewer than 10 fumbles lost in a campaign.
    YSU has lost single digits in fumbles for eight straight seasons.
    In 2011, YSU lost five fumbles while in 2010, the Penguins lost nine. In 2009, YSU lost just three fumbles. In 2008, YSU lost nine in 12 games. YSU had nine fumbles lost in 2007, five in 2006, eight in 2005 and eight in 2004. Prior to the current eight-year streak, the Guins had committed single digits in fumbles lost in consecutive years just twice in school history (1986-87 and 1958-59).

Top of the Liste
    Junior punter Nick Liste continues to be a key contributor as punter and kickoff specialist. Handling kickoff duties, he has 15 touchbacks this season after having just three a year ago. He is averaging 42.1 yards per punt this season. At North Dakota State he averaged 52.3 yards on three kicks, with a long of 56.
    As a sophomore, he averaged 39.8 yards per punt while 16 kicks were inside the opposition's 20. He averaged 41.1 yards per kick in 2010. He has 117 career punts for an average of 40.6 per boot. He has 18 kicks of 50 yards or longer in his three seasons as punter.

2012 Senior Class
    The Penguins' 2012 senior class has been heavily impacted by the junior-college ranks. In fact, of the 14 seniors on the roster, 10 played at a junior college. D.J. Main is the only fifth-year senior on the squad while Jamaine Cook and Andrew Radakovich have both been with the program four seasons.
    Senior DE Chuck Lengyel has been with YSU three seasons after transferring from Mount Union.

Cheaib's Block Party
    Junior LB Ali Cheaib has blocked two punts this season. Cheaib blocked a punt in the first half against Valparaiso and added his second block of the year in the fourth quarter against Albany. Both blocks helped lead to YSU touchdowns. He is the first player since Jarritt Goode in 1996 to block two punts in a season.
Hess continues to impress
    Junior QB Kurt Hess became the first player in school history to throw four touchdown passes or more in four games. Hess and Keith Snoddy each had four touchdown passes in three games. Hess threw touchdown passes to four different players against UNI.
    In his 32-game career, he has thrown for more than 200 yards on 17 occasions, a school record. He has a touchdown pass in 24 games throughout his career.

Winning Streak
    YSU won four straight games for the first time since 2006 to open the season. In 2006, the Penguins won five straight, including two in the postseason, and four straight during the year.
    Since 1987, YSU has made the playoffs in each year it has posted a winning streak of at least four games.
    The 2006 campaign was the last time YSU reached the postseason.

Williams Times Six
    The Penguins have six players on the roster with the last name Williams. On offense Andrew Williams and Antuan Williams are wide receivers. On defense YSU has linebackers Teven Williams and Travis Williams, while Deionte Williams is a safety and Terrell Williams is a defensive end.

Three is Still Important
    In the past 32 games, YSU is a combined 19-of-24 on field-goal attempts.
    This season, PK David Brown has converted from 31 (Western Illinois), 27 (Valparaiso) and 25 (Pittsburgh, Albany) yards.
    In 2011, the Penguins did not make a field goal in the first eight games before converting a 28-yard kick at UNI and two (33 and 30) at North Dakota State. The 30-yard kick by Brown in the third quarter at North Dakota State turned out to be the difference in the game.
    YSU was 12-of-14 in 2010.

Numbers of Note
• Turnover Margin: Since 1996, the Penguins are 106-24 when they win or tie in the turnover margin. When committing more turnovers, YSU is just 15-52.
Since 1990 YSU is:
• 135-18-2 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points in a game.
• 111-12 when rushing for 200-plus yards.
• 130-22 when scoring 28-or-more points.
• 68-8-1 when holding opponents to fewer than 100 yards rushing in a game.
• 159-11 when leading entering the fourth.
• 71-3-2 when holding opponents to 10 points-or-less in a game.