No. 16 YSU Continues Homestand With 2013 Playoff Participant Butler

YSU vs. Butler
YSU vs. Butler
Youngstown State vs. Butler
Date | Time

Saturday, Sept. 13 | 4 p.m.

Location Stambaugh Stadium | Youngstown, Ohio
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    The 16th-ranked Youngstown State football team returns to action on Saturday against Butler. Kickoff against the Bulldogs is set for 4 p.m. The game is available on WKBN 570 AM as well as iHeartRadio and is on tape-delay on MyYTV.
    YSU (1-1) picked up its first win of the season by defeating Duquesne 34-23 in its home opener. The Penguins jumped out quickly scoring the first 28 points of the contest, including 21 in the first quarter. Dante Nania passed for two scores while Martin Ruiz rushed for two. Joey Cejudo added two field goals in the contest as well. The Penguins led 31-7 at halftime and 34-10 in the third quarter before Duquesne scored the final 13 points of the contest.
    Butler (1-0) beat Division III Wittenberg on Saturday night, 22-16 in its season opener. The Bulldogs built a 22-3 lead before the Tigers' made things interesting with a fourth-quarter flurry. Butler used a strong defensive effort to hold on for the win over the Tigers. In the contest, the Bulldogs registered an impressive 10 sacks. Butler, a member of the Pioneer Football League, appeared in the FCS playoffs a year ago.
    This is the second meeting in the series and first since 2010. That contest on Sept. 11 was the home debut for Head Coach Eric Wolford. YSU picked up a 31-7 victory over the Bulldogs at Stambaugh Stadium that evening. The Penguins broke open a 17-7 game against Butler late in the third quarter when Dominique Barnes returned a punt 86 yards for a touchdown.
    YSU took a 7-0 lead when Jordan Thompson scored his first career touchdown in the opening quarter. In the second, Adaris Bellamy's first career score from five yards out increased the advantage to 14-0.
    Butler cut the deficit in half, but the Guins scored the final 17 points of the game. Stephen Blose kicked a 29-yard field goal just before halftime, Barnes scored on his punt return and Bellamy added a 25-yard score in the fourth quarter for the final margin.
    The Guins conclude their homestand and non-conference schedule next Saturday when they host Saint Francis (Pa.).

Duquesne Notes
• The Penguins won their home opener for the
19th consecutive time with the 34-23 win over the Dukes. It was the closest margin of victory at home in an opener since beating South Dakota State (23-17) in 2007.
• QB Dante Nania threw the first touchdown pass of his YSU career when he connected with Andrew Williams on a 54-yard score in the first quarter. Nania later found Nate Adams for his second career scoring toss.
• TB Martin Ruiz posted his second straight 100-plus yard rushing game finishing with 148 yards on 23 carries. It was the sixth 100-yard rushing game of his 14-game YSU career.
• WR Jelani Berassa caught six passes for a career-best 114 yards against the Dukes. He had a 66-yard catch, which was the second longest of his career. In two games he has 10 receptions for 153 yards.
• CB Julius Childs finished with a career-best 13 tackles, including nine solo stops. LB Jaylin Kelly had a career-high 10 total tackles and had the first interception of his YSU career.
• PK Joey Cejudo converted field goals of 34 and 27 yards and has made all five of his attempts this season.
• First-time starters for the Guins were OG Cameron Fraser, DE Derek Rivers and LB Mike Palumbo. True freshman quarterback Hunter Wells saw action for the first time in his career in the fourth quarter.
• YSU scored the first 28 points of the contest while Duquesne had 23 of the final 29.
• A week after holding a major advantage in time of possession and total plays in a loss at Illinois, that number was flipped in a winning performance. YSU had the ball for just 25:48 in the game while Duquesne ran 16 more offensive plays.

Duquesne Recap
    YSU built a 31-7 halftime lead before fending off a Duquesne come-from-behind bid for a 34-23 win in the home opener at Stambaugh Stadium.
    The Penguins jumped out to a 28-0 lead as Martin Ruiz scored on two runs and Dante Nania fired the first two touchdown passes of his career.
    YSU scored three touchdowns in the first quarter as Ruiz opened the scoring with a seven-yard score. Nania connected with Andrew Williams on a 54-yard touchdown pass before Ruiz tip-toed down the sidelines on a 46-yard scoring run.
    In the second quarter, Nania connected with Nate Adams on a 31-yard pass to put the Guins on top 28-0. YSU went into the half leading 31-7 and led 34-10 in the third quarter. Duquesne scored two straight touchdowns to pull within 11 points with 2:48 remaining, but YSU melted the clock to preserve the win.

Last Meeting With Butler Was in 2010
    YSU picked up a 31-7 victory over the Bulldogs at Stambaugh Stadium in Head Coach Eric Wolford's first home tilt on Sept. 11, 2010. The Penguins broke open a 17-7 game against Butler late in the third quarter when Dominique Barnes returned a punt 86 yards for a touchdown.
    YSU took a 7-0 lead when Jordan Thompson scored his first career touchdown in the opening quarter. In the second, Adaris Bellamy's first career score from five yards out increased the advantage to 14-0.
    Butler cut the deficit in half, but the Guins scored the final 17 points of the game. Stephen Blose kicked a 29-yard field goal just before halftime, Barnes scored on his punt return and Bellamy added a 25-yard score in the fourth quarter for the final margin.

Butler Update
    The Bulldogs opened the season with a 22-16 victory over Wittenberg last Saturday. Butler jumped out to a 22-3 lead on the heels of 20 third-quarter points before the Tigers made a final push to make things interesting.
    In the contest Butler QB Matt Schiltz completed 19-of-32 passes for 235 yards and two scores. Sam Schrader rushed for a team-high 60 yards and had a touchdown. Butler registered an impressive 10 sacks in the game for 71 yards in losses. The sacks led to just 30 yards on 36 carries for the Tigers.
    Butler is coming off a season in which it made its first-ever FCS playoff appearance. The Bulldogs shared the Pioneer Football League title and posted a 9-4 mark for the campaign.

Non-Conference Home Success
    YSU has won 22 of its last 23 non-conference regular-season home games since September 2004. The lone loss was a final-play 31-28 setback to Liberty in 2008.
    Coach Eric Wolford is 10-0 at home against non-conference foes with wins over Albany, Butler, Dayton, Duquesne (twice), Morehead State, Valparaiso (twice), Central Connecticut State and Saint Francis (Pa.).
    In the 10 games, the Guins have outscored the opposition 458-154 (an average of 45.8-15.4).

September Home Streak
    The Penguins are 11-0 at home in September since Head Coach Eric Wolford took over the program in 2010 and have won 12 straight overall since the 2009 campaign. One of those wins came over Butler back in 2010.
    Since losing to Florida International in overtime on Sept. 11, 2004, YSU is 24-1 in September at Stambaugh Stadium. The lone loss was a final-play defeat to Liberty in 2008 (31-28).

Big Plays In Pass Game
    The Penguins have made some big plays in the passing game early in the season.
    Against Duquesne, QB Dante Nania completed a 66-yard toss to Jelani Berassa while Andrew Williams caught a 54-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter.
    At Illinois in the season opener, Nania found Williams for a 61-yard gain and connected with Jody Webb on a 54-yard toss.
    Last year, the Penguins had just four completions of longer than 50 yards in 12 games played. YSU did not complete pass of more than 50 yards in 2012.

Ruiz Has Strong Start
    Sophomore TB Martin Ruiz has picked up the 2014 season right where he left off last year. Ruiz has rushed for more than 100 yards in each of the first two games this season.
    In the win over Duquesne last Saturday, he had 148 yards on 23 carries and scored two touchdowns. At Illinois, he had a career-high 32 carries for 116 yards and a touchdown.
    Ruiz has now rushed for more than 100 yards six times in his brief 14-game YSU career. He has scored a touchdown in 11 games as well.
    As a freshman, Ruiz, who was named the Missouri Valley Football Conference Newcomer and Freshman of the Year, set school marks for attempts (192), yards (1,094) and touchdowns by a freshman in 2013.
    Ruiz started seven of the eight MVFC games and rushed for 831 yards on 147 attempts while scoring eight touchdowns in league play.

Berassa Making Impact
    Senior WR Jelani Berassa has become a go-to target so far this season. In two games, he has 10 receptions for 153 yards, averaging 15.3 yards per catch. Against Duquesne, he had six receptions for a career-high 114 yards, including a 66-yard grab.
    Last year, Berassa caught just six passes for 74 yards. He missed the 2012 season with a knee injury. In 2011, he had at least four catches in a game on five occasions, including a career-best seven in the season finale against Missouri State. That year he caught 37 passes.

Childs Has Best Game
    Playing in front of his mother for the first time as a Penguin, senior CB Julius Childs had a solid all-around performance making a game-and-career high 13 tackles. Of his 13 stops, nine were solos - also a career best mark.
    His previous best game total for tackles was 11 at Michigan State and Indiana State last season. His best solos output was eight, which also came on two occasions.
    In two games this year, the SoCal native, has 19 stops, including 14 solo tackles. He also has a pair of pass breakups.

Big First Half
    The Penguins played an impressive first half
against Duquesne. YSU amassed 352 yards of total offense on just 37 plays to build a 31-7 hafltime lead. QB Dante Nania completed 13-of-16 passes for 208 yards. On the ground, YSU had 21 rushes for 144 yards, 101 of which came by Martin Ruiz.
    The defense allowed just 135 yards on 36 plays by the Dukes and stopped them on seven-of-10 third-down attempts.

Quick Strike Offense
    YSU had three scoring drives of under 30 seconds in the win over Duquesne.
    The first was a one-play seven-second drive on a 54-yard pass from Dante Nania to Andrew Williams. The second was a two-play, 46-yard drive that featured a 46-yard touchdown run by Martin Ruiz following an incomplete pass. A two-play 60-yard drive took just 26 seconds in the second quarter. The drive opened with a 14-yard run by Andre Stubbs followed by a face mask penalty by Duquesne. Nania then found Nate Adams on a 31-yard scoring toss on the next play.

Defense Played Well
    Minus two big pass plays for touchdowns, the defense had a solid performance against the Dukes. By removing two scoring tosses of 57 yards and 64 yards in the second half playing with a patch-work secondary, the Penguins surrendered 366 yards on the 73 other plays. That's a modest average of just five yards a play.
    At one stretch in the second half, the defense was on the field for 19 straight plays and nine minutes and 33 seconds. They did not allow a point during that stretch.

Bam has Been All Over
    Junior LB Dubem Nwadiogbu, aka "Bam", has been a key difference maker on defense so far this year. Nwadiogbu has 14 tackles in the first two games, including 11 solo stops. He had a career-best eight total tackles and six solo stops in the win over Duquesne after tying his previous career standard with six at Illinois.
    Of his 41 career tackles, 31 have come in the month of September.

Kelly Gaining Confidence
    Sophomore LB Jaylin Kelly seems to be growing into his role as the Guins' starting middle linebacker. He has started the first two games at that position this season after seeing limited action a season ago.
    Against Duquesne, he had a career-high 10 tackles. In the third quarter, he had his first career interception to stop the Dukes deep in YSU territory. But following a 43-yard return, he fumbled the ball back to Duquesne.

Solid Start for Cejudo
    PK/P Joey Cejudo has done a good job managing all of the kicking roles for the Penguins this season.
    Through two games, he has made all five of his field goals after converting a pair against Duquesne. He had a career-long punt of 48 yards vs. the Dukes and three of his seven kickoffs were touchbacks.
    He was named the MVFC's Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance at Illinois. Against the Illini, Cejudo made three field goals and averaged 38.3 yards per punt on seven attempts. Entering the contest at Illinois Cejudo did not have a punt as a Penguin.
    He has a tackle in each of the first two contests as well.

Nania Making Strides
    Junior QB Dante Nania has looked good as the Penguins's starting quarterback for the first two games. However, Nania left the contest against Duquesne with an ankle injury in the fourth quarter.
    He completed 16-of-23 passes for 288 yards and the first two touchdown passes of his career up until that point. Even on the play he went down on, he found time and tossed a would-be first-down pass to Nate Adams that was nulified by a YSU penalty.
    At Illinois, he rushed for 46 yards on 12 carries while completing 11-of-24 passes for 177 yards.
    Prior to his starting debut, he had 12 carrer completions and just 21 attempts.
    His 46 yards rushing against the Illini were the most by a QB in a game since Brandon Summers had 73 at Northeastern on Sept. 19, 2009. However that final total was helped by a 73-yard TD run.

Wells Called Into Duty
    True freshman QB Hunter Wells stepped in late in the fourth quarter and completed the first pass of his collegiate career. He was put into a tough spot entering the game on a 3rd-and-21 situation and threw a six-yard toss to Jody Webb on the play. He played five snaps at quarterback in the game.
    He is the first true freshman quarterback to be called into action since Dailyn Campbell and Marc Kanetsky in 2008.

Receivers Grow Up
    The group of Jelani Berassa, Christian Bryan, Andrew Williams and Andre Stubbs have combined for 271 receptions in their YSU careers.
    Berassa is in his sixth year with the program while Bryan, Williams and Stubbs all came in together as part of the 2011 recruiting class.
    Bryan never redshirted and has caught 103 passes in a solid career. He ranks 10th in school history in career receptions. Williams has caught 57 passes and Stubbs has 54 as injuries forced redshirt campaigns for both players in their Penguin careers.
    Berassa missed the 2010 and 2012 seasons with knee injuries. When healthy in 2011, he had 37 of his 57 career catches and eight of his nine career TD hauls.
    Fifth-year tight end Nate Adams has 25 catches, including six touchdowns, as well.

Red-Zone Success
    YSU has converted at a high success rate in the red zone under Head Coach Eric Wolford.
    The Guins are 7-of-9 so far this season (five field goals and two touchdowns).
    Last year, YSU was 43-of-47 (91.5 percent) in its red-zone opportunities. It marked the second season in his four-year tenure that the Guins converted more than 90 percent of their red-zone opportunities. YSU scored touchdowns on 38 of those red-zone visits.
    In 47 games under Coach Wolford, the Penguins are 168-for-181 (87.9 percent) inside the red zone. YSU has scored 140 touchdowns (96 rushing and 44 passing) while making 28-of-29 field-goal attempts. Of the 10 turnovers committed, eight have been interceptions.
    The Penguins were 35-of-43 inside the red-zone in 2012 (81.7 percent). YSU went 42-of-47 in 2011 (89.4 percent), and, in 2010, the Guins converted 41-of-45 chances (91.1 percent).
    Overall, the program has a red-zone score in 53 consecutive games. Under Wolford they have seven red-zone scores in three games.

Cejudo Pulls Double Duty
    PK/P Joey Cejudo is handling both the placekicking and punting duties for YSU this year. He is one of just three Penguins to handle both punting and kicking in the same year since 1970.
    The last Penguin to handle both roles as punter and placekicker was Jeff Wilkins in 1992-93. Wilkins was the placekicker in each season throughout his YSU career. Wilkins shared punting duties in 1992 before assuming both placekicker and punting roles in 1993. He turned out to be pretty good playing 14 years in the NFL and winning a Super Bowl title with the St. Louis Rams.
    The only other kicker since 1970 to handle both chores was Chuck Haynali, who did both in three straight seasons - 1976, 1977 and 1978.

Numbers Under Wolf
    After 47 games, Head Coach Eric Wolford is now 25-22. YSU has won 20 of its last 31 games under Wolford since the mid-point of the 2011 season. A couple of good notes have come from his first 47 games regarding wins and losses. Both losses when allowing 27 or fewer points have come at UNI (21-17 in 2011 and 22-20).
• YSU is 12-0 when allowing 20 points or fewer
• YSU is 22-2 when allowing 27 points or fewer
• YSU is 23-4 when allowing 33 points or fewer

Bryan Eclipses 100
    Senior WR Christian Bryan has 103 career receptions in 36 career games played.
    Bryan is just one of 14 players in school history to eclipse the 100-reception mark in a career.
    He ranks 10th in school history with his 103 career grabs, moving in front of Dave DelSignore (1966-69).
    Bryan is tied for 11th in school history for career touchdown receptions with his 11 TDs. He is one of 13 players in YSU history with 11-or-more TD grabs in a career. He's tied with Ray Ellington and Kyle Smith with 11 career touchdown receptions.

Three is Still Important
    Under Coach Eric Wolford, YSU is a combined 32-of-39 on field-goal attempts (82.0 percent).
    PK Joey Cejudo has started the season off on a good note making all five of his attempts. He opened the year by making three at Illinois and added a pair against Duquesne. He made six-of-eight attempts last season, including a long of 40 yards against Duquesne.
    In 2012, PK David Brown converted six-of-seven attempts, including a long of 47 yards against Indiana State. 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.
    YSU was 12-of-14 in 2010, all of which came by the foot of Stephen Blose.

>400 Yards/27 Points
    The Penguins have had more than 400 yards of total offense in 24 games under Head Coach Eric Wolford. YSU eclipsed the mark in five games in 2013.
    In his 47 contests, YSU has had more than 300 yards in 40 of them. Additionally, the Guins have scored 27-or-more points in 32 of Wolford's 47 games at the helm.

New Look Offensive Line
    YSU has had three first-time offensive starters in the first two contests. In the opener at Illinois, Dylan Colucci and Justin Spencer made their first YSU starts while against Duquesne, Cameron Fraser was in the starting lineup.
    The line has played well together so far as the Penguins had 201 yards rushing at Illinois and 199 against Duquesne. The Guins are averaging 436.5 yards of total offense through two contests. After allowing three sacks in the opener at Illinois, the unit regrouped and did not allow a sack at home against Duquesne.
    The line does have some veterans in Trevor Strickland, Brock Eisenhuth and its lone senior in Stephen Page. Strickland has started both games this year after starting all five contests a year ago. Eisenhuth started nine times last season. Prior to this year, Page's last start was in 2012 at South Dakota State.

Experienced Front D-Line
    The defensive line has drawn rave reviews for its early season performances. YSU has been able to put some heat on the quarterback and play run stopper.
    DT Emmanuel Kromah and DE Terrell Williams have started the last 14 games on the front line. NT Octavius Brown has started the first two games this year and made an impact. DE Derek Rivers made his first career start against Duquesne. He has had a sack in each of the first two games. Last year Rivers had three sacks in just 10 games played. He has five sacks in 12 career games as a Penguin.
    Also contributing up front are DT Steve Zaborsky and DE Desmond Williams.

Three Over 100 Tackles
    Senior FS Donald D'Alesio leads the program with 194 career tackles, including 105 solo stops. Senior LB Travis Williams has 170 career tackles, 99 of which are solos. Senior CB Julius Childs has 140 tackles, 99 of which are solos.

Six Captains in 2014
    The Penguins have six seniors serving as team captains. Sixth-year senior WR Jelani Berassa, fifth-year seniors FS Donald D'Alesio and TE Nate Adams, fourth-year senior WR Christian Bryan, third-year senior CB Julius Childs and second-year senior DT Octatvius Brown were selected to assume that role this year.

First Time QB Starters
    Dante Nania was just the 14th quarterback to start for the Penguins since five games into the 1998 season when Jeff Ryan took over as the starter. That's a pretty good run considering that is a span of nearly 16 seasons. In 1998, YSU started three different QBs in the first five games before Ryan started all but one game the next three-plus years.
    Former Penguin Kurt Hess started 45 straight games from 2010-13 while Tom Zetts started every game from 2004-07.
    Since 1998, YSU has had multiple first-time starters in 2009, 2008, 2003 and 2002.
    The Guins are 7-7 in games in which a quarterback makes his first start since Ryan's appearance against Southern Illinois in 1998. At the FCS level (since 1981), the Penguins are 15-12 when a quarterback starts for the first time in his career.

Classroom Excellence
    Since Head Coach Eric Wolford took over, he has also had an impact on the Penguins' production in the classroom. In eight of the nine spring/fall semesters he has been head coach, the Guins have maintained a 2.70 cumulative GPA.
    The Guins had 43 selections to the Missouri Valley Football Conference honor roll. Senior TE Nate Adams was a recipient of the Presidents Academic Award as well.
    This past summer, YSU was the recipient of the FCS Athletics Directors Association APR award for having the most improved APR score in the Missouri Valley Football Conference in 2012-13.

Four-TD Passing Games
    Since Nov. 1, 2008, quarterbacks Kurt Hess (six) and Brandon Summers (two) combined to throw at least four touchdowns in a game eight times in a span of 61 games.
    In school history before November 2008, a group of six quarterbacks combined for eight four-passing touchdown games. YSU had played 702 games up to that point in school history.

Four-Takeaway Win Streak
    YSU has won 19 straight games when it forces at least four turnovers. In 2013, the Guins were 1-0 when that occurred.
    Since 2006, the Guins are 21-1 when they have at least four takeaways in a game. The last loss was against UNI in 2006.

Three Graduates on Roster
    Three members of the program have already earned their bachelor's degrees from Youngstown State. YSU's trio of graduates are Jelani Berassa, Nate Adams and Donald D'Alesio.
    Berassa and Adams both graduated following the fall semester while D'Alesio earned his diploma following the spring semester.

12-Game Regular Season
    The Penguins are playing 12 regular-season games for just the fourth time in school history. The other times were last year, 2008 and 2003. The Guins posted an 8-4 mark a year ago, were 4-8 in 2008 and went 5-7 in 2003.
    Last year the Guins picked up an impressive eight wins against Division I programs. In 2003, two victories came against non-Division I foes.

Strong Florida Influence
    This season, the Penguins have an impressive 19 players from the state of Florida. Of the 19, 18 have been recruited by Coach Eric Wolford and his current staff, which includes Florida natives Glenn Davis and Eric Gallon. Wolford also coached at USF.

Williams Times Six
    The Penguins have six players on the roster with the last name Williams. On offense, YSU has Andrew (WR) and Dwayne (OL), while the defense is home to Desmond (DE), Milton (DT), Travis (LB) and Terrell (DE).

Numbers of Note
• Turnover Margin: Since 1996, the Penguins are 114-27 when they win or tie in the turnover margin. When committing more turnovers, YSU is just 18-54.
Since 1990 YSU is:
• 142-18-2 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points in a game.
• 116-13 when rushing for 200-plus yards.
• 138-22 when scoring 28-or-more points.
• 73-9-1 when holding opponents to fewer than 100 yards rushing in a game.
• 167-13 when leading entering the fourth.
• 74-3-2 when holding opponents to 10 points-or-less in a game.
More recently:
• YSU has scored points in 62 consecutive games.
• YSU has scored in double figures in 20 straight contests.
• The Guins last played an overtime game on Sept. 11, 2004 against Florida International. YSU has not played an OT contest in a span of 115 games dating back to that contest.

Up Next: Saint Francis (Pa.)
    The Penguins conclude a three-game homestand and the non-conference portion of their schedule against Saint Francis (Pa.).
    Kickoff for the contest is set for 7 p.m. at Stambaugh Stadium. YSU leads the all-time series by a 5-0 margin.