The Youngstown State football team plays its final road game of the regular season when it visits Western Illinois on Saturday. Kickoff at Hanson Field is set for 2 p.m. Eastern/1 p.m. Central time. The game will be carried on WKBN 570 AM/iHeartRadio with WFMJ carrying the game live.
The Penguins (5-4 overall and 2-4 in the MVFC) will be looking to remain in the playoff mix after beating South Dakota 13-10 last Saturday. Senior tailback Jamaine Cook rushed for 203 yards on 42 carries while the defense held South Dakota to just 206 total offensive yards. YSU took a 13-0 lead before the Coyotes scored the final 10 points.
YSU jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first quarter when Kurt Hess connected with Nate Adams on three-yard score. The scoring toss was the 51st touchdown pass and 500th completion of Hess's Penguin career. On the first possession of the second half, the Guins extended their lead to 13-0 when Cook scored from a yard out. USD cut the deficit to 13-3 on a 37-yard field goal by Kevin Robb and moved within three points in the fourth quarter on a 22-yard touchdown run by Jasper Sanders.
The Coyotes had one final drive, but on fourth-and-11 from their own 41-yard line, quarterback Josh Vander Maten was sacked by Aronde Stanton and Josh Fenderson to seal the victory.
Western Illinois (3-6 and 1-5) was shut out at home for the first time since 1994 in a 40-0 setback to UNI. The Panthers scored 30 points in the first half and 10 more in the third quarter for the final margin. WIU had 172 yards of total offense in the contest while UNI had 413. The Leathernecks enter the contest having lost four straight and six of seven.
YSU has won seven of the last eight in the series, including a 56-14 win at Stambaugh Stadium in 2011. The Penguins lost their last visit to Macomb, 40-38, during the 2010 campaign. In the all-time series, YSU holds a 16-11 lead, and this will be the 16th meeting in Macomb.
The Penguins play their final home game of the regular season on Nov. 17 against Indiana State. The Sycamores (7-3 and 5-2) are idle this Saturday.
• The Penguins will be looking to win back-to-back November games for the first time since 2009.
• QB Kurt Hess is tied for the school record in career touchdown passes at 51.
• Hess is 39 yards shy of moving into second in school history. He trails Trenton Lykes (1984-87) for second. Lykes had 6,341 in his career while Hess sits at 6,302.
• TB Jamaine Cook is 180 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 4,948 yards in his career.
• Cook is also just 185 yards rushing shy of 4,000 for his career and trails Adrian Brown (1996-99) by 163 yards for second place all-time in school history.
• The Penguins have registered 11 sacks in the past three games. In the six previous contests, they had seven. DT's Aronde Stanton and Nick DeKraker have sacks in three straight games.
• YSU has played WIU 27 times. The only opponent the Penguins have played more is Akron (35).
• Sophomore WR Christian Bryan has caught a pass in 20 straight games. Senior TE Will Shaw has caught a pass in every game this year and is on a streak of 12 straight games with reception.
• YSU has had double-digit leads in seven of its nine games this season and had the lead at halftime six times.
• The Penguins have scored a touchdown in all nine first quarters this season.
South Dakota Notes
• YSU scored on its first drive of the game and first drive of the second half.
• TB Jamaine Cook had 42 rushing attempts and caught one pass. USD ran a total of 44 plays in the game while Cook had 43 personally. Cook gained 208 yards while South Dakota had 206.
• In the first half, YSU forced five punts on the six USD drives. The other Coyote drive was halted by the end of the half. USD had just 88 yards on 21 plays in the first half.
• In the second half, YSU had four possessions while South Dakota had just three.
• PK David Brown missed his first PAT of the season. Brown's attempt following YSU's first touchdown hit the left upright, snapping his season streak at 34 and his total streak at 36.
• YSU had more first downs (23-12), total plays (73-44), total offensive yards (361-206), rushing yards (228-121), passing yards (133-85), passing completions (11-9), time of possession (34:50-25:10) and third-down conversions (9-5).
South Dakota Recap
Youngstown State jumped out to a 13--point lead and held on for a 13-10 win over South Dakota last Saturday at Stambaugh Stadium on Homecoming.
Senior TB Jamaine Cook carried the load offensively rushing for 203 yards on 42 attempts.
The Penguins took their initial drive of the game and marched 84 yards in 15 plays to go on top 6-0. On third-and-goal from the three, Kurt Hess found Nate Adams for the touchdown. The TD toss was the 51st of Hess's career tying the school mark previously held by Tom Zetts.
YSU extended its lead on its first drive of the second half. This time Cook punched it in from a yard out to cap a nine-play, 75-yard drive.
But USD answered with a 37-yard field goal by Kevin Robb, and Jasper Sanders scored on a 22-yard run with 10:48 left in the fourth to make it a 13-10 ballgame.
The Penguins were able to milk nearly four minutes off the clock before punting back to USD. After two first downs, the Coyotes faced a 4th-and-11 from their own 41. On the play, Aronde Stanton and Josh Fenderson teamed up to sack Josh Vander Maten with 1:16 left and seal the victory.
2011 Recap | YSU 56, WIU 14
Kurt Hess threw four touchdown passes and ran for another as the Penguins rolled to an impressive 56-14 win over Western Illinois on Homecoming at Stambaugh Stadium.
YSU set a school record for most points scored in a conference game as Hess and Marc Kanetsky combined to tie a then school record by throwing five touchdown passes to five different receivers.
The Penguins scored on their first offensive play when Hess connected with a wide open Christian Bryan on a 70-yard score. Hess scored on a 13-yard run, Jamaine Cook followed with a two-yard scamper and Jelani Berassa caught a 69-yard scoring toss on the final play of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Cook scored from four yards out while Kevin Watts caught a 17-yard scoring pass. In the third, Kintrell Disher caught the first touchdown pass of his career from 28 yards before Kanetsky hit Ely Ducatel on an 11-yard TD pass to complete the scoring.
Last Time in Macomb
In a contest that featured nine lead changes, the final one went to Western Illinois as the Penguins dropped a tough 40-38 decision to the Leathernecks in 2010 at Hanson Field.
YSU led 24-14 at halftime before the Leathernecks scored 26 points in the second half. QB Matt Barr hit WR Lito Senatus on a 17-yard score with 1:00 left in the WIU win.
Clamping Down on the Run
The YSU defense ranks sixth nationally in the FCS against the run, holding opponents to 103.56 per contest. The Penguins are second in the MVFC behind North Dakota State.
Youngstown State has allowed 121 yards or fewer in seven of the nine games this season.
South Dakota had 121 yards rushing against the Guins last Saturday. In the meantime YSU allowed just 85 yards passing, the lowest total since Indiana State had 79 in 2009.
South Dakota State had 65 yards rushing on 31 carries, a week after Southern Illinois had 71 yards on 34 attempts.
YSU held the FCS's nation-leading rusher, SDSU's Zach Zenner, to 87 yards on 17 carries on Oct. 27. Zenner entered that game averaging 194.3 yards contest.
In the past three games, YSU has 20 tackles for losses, including 11 sacks. YSU has had three sacks or more in each of the past three contests.
YSU's 13 points in the win over South Dakota were the fewest points scored in a victory since defeating Cal Poly 10-7 in 1999. Like the contest against the Coyotes, that was also a Homecoming game.
It was the fewest points scored in a conference win since beating Illinois State 13-0 in 1997. That was the third MVFC game in the program's history.
Call Me Mady
Senior OG Lamar Mady was named the Missouri Valley Football Conference's Offensive Lineman of the Week for his effort against South Dakota. Mady played all 72 snaps of the contest for the Penguins. He was named the team's offensive lineman of the game for his efforts. Mady had a grade of 85 percent and had a season-high seven knockdown blocks. As a unit, the line helped pave the way for a 203-yard outing by TB Jamaine Cook.
Hess Ties Career Mark
Junior QB Kurt Hess tied the school record for career touchdown passes with his 51st last Saturday 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. Ironically, Zetts set the mark against Western Illinois in the final game of the 2008 season. Hess has a chance to eclipse Zetts against WIU as well.
Jeff Ryan is the only other quarterback in school history to throw 50 in a career from 1998-2001.
Cook Nearing 4,000
Senior TB Jamaine Cook is 185 yards rushing shy of reaching 4,000 for his stellar career. In 41 career games, Cook has rushed for 3,815 yards. Of those, an impressive 2,815 have come in 30 conference games.
Since taking over the starting tailback duties in 2010, Cook has rushed for 3,704 yards in 31 contests. He has averaged 119.5 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 22 MVFC games, he has rushed for a total of 2,751 yards while averaging 125 per contest.
On the strength of his 203-yard performance against South Dakota, Cook now ranks fifth among current FCS running backs for career yardage.
All-Purpose Mark in Sight
TB Jamaine Cook is closing in on setting the school record for career all-purpose yards.
Cook has 4,948 yards in his career all-purpose yards and trails just Tamron Smith for the most all-around yards in school history. Smith had 5,128 yards in his YSU career from 1990-93.
In his career, Cook has 3,815 yards rushing, 614 on kickoff returns and 519 receiving.
Last Six Quarters
The Penguins have played some solid football in the past six quarters to right themselves.
In the final half against South Dakota State, YSU outscored the Jackrabbits 21-6. Of course the Penguins are coming off a 13-10 victory over South Dakota.
Statistically, YSU has been dominant in that time frame. The Penguins had 244 yards of total offense to SDSU's 100 in the second. Last Saturday, the Penguins had 361 yards compared to 206 for the Coyotes. In the past six quarters, YSU has a 605-306 advantage in total yardage.
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 47 tackles in the past three contests.
Stanton has been a one-man wrecking crew. In that time frame he has 17 total tackles, including 11 solo stops. Of those 17 tackles, he has seven TFLs and four sacks. He also returned a fumbled interception for a touchdown against South Dakota State.
DeKraker has 14 tackles, including four sacks. Sirl has nine tackle and Fenderson has seven, including two sacks. Sirl and Luis Quinones and Emmanual Kromah have sacks as well.
Really Young Receivers
A group of young receivers has had to step up for the Penguins this season.
Of the 90 catches by the YSU wide receivers this season, 86 have been by freshmen or sophomores. Sophomore Christian Bryan leads the group with 22 while redshirt freshmen Andrew Williams has 20 and Andre Stubbs has 19.
Williams has been the go-to target lately with 17 receptions in the past five games.
YSU's tight ends, led by senior Will Shaw, have combined for 43 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 four catches in seven games played. Junior Jelani Berassa is out for the year with a knee injury.
YSU's tight ends have 43 receptions for 527 yards and eight touchdowns. The wide receivers have six scoring catches this year.
Hess Among FCS' Best
Junior QB Kurt Hess ranks 10th among active FCS quarterbacks in career passing efficiency. Hess's 51 touchdown passes are 14th among active players while his 6,303 yards are 16th and his 508 completions are 18th.
In his last 20 games (each start the past two years), Hess has thrown 39 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions.
Cook Finding His Stride
With the arrival of conference play, senior TB Jamaine Cook's production has increased. In six league games, he has rushed for 741 yards on 155 attempts. He is averaging 123.5 yards per game so far, which ranks him second in the MVFC. In the six games, he has scored eight of the Guins' 10 rushing touchdowns. Cook ran for a season-high 203 yards last time out against South Dakota.
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 10 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.
In 31 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 nine 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 21 games overall.
Only seven times in the 30 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).
YSU continues to convert at a high success rate in the red zone under Head Coach Eric Wolford.
The Penguins are 29-of-36 inside the red-zone this season (80.5 percent). YSU 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 26 touchdowns and made three field goals in those trips.
In his 30 games as coach, the Penguins are 112-for-129 (86.8 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.
The Penguins offense features an experienced group.
QB Kurt Hess has started 31 straight games while TB Jamaine Cook has started 30 of the past 31.
Junior OG Chris Elkins has started 24 consecutive games, the longest streak on the offensive line. Senior OG Lamar Mady has the second-longest active streak at 20 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 12 straight games and 26 in his career. OT Andrew Radakovich did not play in each of the past two games, and had his consecutive starting streak end at 36 earlier this year.
Sophomore WR Christian Bryan has logged 20 consecutive starts while senior TE Will Shaw has started all nine games this year.
Redshirt freshman WR Andrew Williams and junior OT Kyle Bryant were in the starting lineup for the past four games.
Turning Up the Pressure
YSU has registered 11 sacks the past three weeks with four each against South Dakota State and Southern Illinois and three vs. South Dakota.
For the season, the Penguins now have 18 sacks. Linemen Nick DeKraker and Aronde Stanton have four sacks each. 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.
Spreading the Wealth
The Penguins have five players on the defense with 40-or-more tackles. Sophomore LB Travis Williams leads the team with 50 total tackles and 32 unassisted stops. Senior SS Jeremey Edwards leads the secondary with 46 tackles. Sophomore LB Teven Williams is second on the team with 47 tackles. Junior CB Dale Peterman has 41, including 31 solo stops. Sophomore CB Julius Childs has 40 tackles on the campaign.
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.
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 6-of-8 field-goal attempts. On PAT tries he is now 88-of-92.
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 because of an injury.
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 20 career games played, Bryan has caught a touchdown pass in nine of them. He has started every game as well.
This season he has 22 receptions for 254 yards and three touchdowns. Last season, Bryan had a team-leading 46 receptions for 722 yards and six touchdowns. He has 952 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 275 yards on 50 carries this season. Entering the year, Pace had 203 yards on 38 carries in his career.
This year he has scored two 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.
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 12 touchbacks this season after having just three a year ago. He is averaging 41.0 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 17 kicks of 50 yards or longer in his three seasons as punter.
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 30-game career, he has thrown for more than 200 yards on 17 occasions, a school record.
Winning Streak Is Key
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.
Three is Still Important
In the past 31 games, YSU is a combined 18-of-23 on field-goal attempts.
This season, PK David Brown has converted from 27 (Valparaiso) and 25 (Pittsburgh, Albany) yards. He had his first miss of the season last Saturday against South Dakota.
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.
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.
Numbers of Note
• Turnover Margin: Since 1996, the Penguins are 105-24 when they win or tie in the turnover margin. When committing more turnovers, YSU is just 15-52.
Since 1990 YSU is:
• 134-18-2 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points in a game.
• 110-12 when rushing for 200-plus yards.
• 130-22 when scoring 28-or-more points.
• 67-8-1 when holding opponents to fewer than 100 yards rushing in a game.
• 158-11 when leading entering the fourth.
• 70-3-2 when holding opponents to 10 points-or-less in a game.
Up Next: Indiana State
YSU plays its final home game of the season next Saturday against Indiana State.
Kickoff for Senior Day at Stambaugh Stadium is set for 2:05 p.m. The Sycamores are idle this week and sit at 7-3 overall and 5-2 in the conference.