Fargo, N.D. - The 20th-ranked Youngstown State football team ran into a determined third-ranked North Dakota State team as the Penguins dropped a 38-14 decision on Saturday afternoon at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome.
With the loss, the Guins end the season 7-5 overall and 4-4 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference while North Dakota State will enter the playoffs 11-1 and with the victory earned a share of the MVFC title with Illinois State by going 7-1.
In the first half, not much went right for the Penguins. The Bison scored a pair of touchdowns in each of the first two quarter to take a 28-0 halftime lead. Three YSU turnovers led to 21 NDSU points.
All three turnovers gave NDSU short scoring drives of 33 and 20 in the first quarter and 29 late in the second.
On YSU's third offensive play of the game, Hunter Wells connected with Jelani Berassa on a pass, but he was stripped of the ball and NDSU took over at the YSU 33-yard line. The Bison capitalized four plays later when Carson Wentz found Zach Vraa on a 21-yard touchdown pass at the 11:27 mark of the opening period.
Later in the period, Wells threw an interception on a deep ball as Christian Dudzik picked off the pass at the NDSU 49 and returned the ball to the YSU 20-yard line. After John Crockett picked up three yards, Wentz called his own number around the left side and bulled his way into the end zone on a 17-yard scoring run at the 4:55 mark of the first.
NDSU had its lone substantial drive of the first half moving 61 yards on seven plays as Wentz found Andrew Bonnet on a 9-yard pass with 4:40 left in the second quarter.
After Wells' second interception of the half, Crockett scored on a four-yard run with 29 seconds left in the first half and NDSU now leads the Penguins 28-0.
In the first half, NDSU had 268 yards of total offense, including 206 on the ground. Wentz had 115 on seven carries. He completed just five passes, but two went for touchdowns. YSU had 37 yards of offense in the first half and 13 yards rushing on 14 carries.
The Penguins played well in the third quarter picking up 84 yards of total offense in the quarter and scoring their first touchdown of the afternoon.
After a 30-yard field goal by Adam Keller on NDSU's first possession of the second half, YSU responded with a nice 11-play, 75-yard drive that Wells capped with a one-yard scoring toss to senior Nate Adams.
In the fourth, King Frazier scored on a 10-yard run with 9:08 left in the game to increase the NDSU advantage to 38-7.
YSU got on the board one final time with 3:08 left when Wells found Andrew Williams for a six-yard score to make the contest 38-14.
For the game, YSU had 216 yards of total offense, 135 passing and 81 rushing. NDSU finished with 479 yards, including 353 on the ground.