Penguins Win at South Dakota State for First Time Since 1974

Jaylin Kelly makes a stop against South Dakota State.
Jaylin Kelly makes a stop against South Dakota State.

Brookings, S.D. - The Youngstown State football team used a solid all-around effort to defeat South Dakota State 30-27 at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium on a beautiful Saturday afternoon. The victory marked the first time since 1974 that the Penguins won in Brookings.

The win improves YSU to 6-2 overall and 3-1 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference while South Dakota State falls to 5-3 and 3-2.

Freshman quarterback Hunter Wells was impressive in his first road start. Wells completed 16-of-27 passes for 256 yards and two touchdowns. Andrew Williams was his favorite target throughout the game as he finished with 139 yards on six receptions. 

After a scoreless third quarter, the Guins took their biggest lead of the contest in the fourth quarter.

Leading 23-20, the Guins faced a fourth-and-5 from the SDSU 28-yard line. Wells found Andre Stubbs on an eight-yard pick up for the first down. On the next play, Wells found Jelani Berassa for a 20-yard score with 8:21 remaining in the contest.

SDSU answered with its first points of the half as Zach Lujan connected with Zach Zenner on a six-yard run that capped an impressive 15-play, 75-yard drive with just 4:16 remaining in the gmae.. 

YSU picked up one first down before being stopped at its own 39. On the punt, Joey Cejudo crushed a career-best 58-yard punt that was downed at the SDSU two-yard line. The Jackrabbits had moved out to their 22-yard line before the they unraveled. A false start, a sack,a rush for a one-yard loss and an incompletion left them with a fourth-and-19 from their 13. Lujan appeared to hit Jake Wieneke, who had 10 catches in the ball game, for a first down, but Julius Childs wrestled the ball away from him to seal the hard-fought win.

The Penguins took a 23-20 lead at halftime thanks to strong first-half performances by Wells and Ruiz, along with some solid defensive pressure. Wells completed 7-of-14 passes for 150 yards and scored the first rushing touchdown of his Penguin career late in the second quarter.

Ruiz ran tough picking up 116 yards on just 10 carries and had a score. For the game, he had 132 yards on 20 carries. Zenner had 114 on 25 totes for SDSU>

In the half, YSU outgained the Jackrabbits 292-276 despite having just 9:53 time of possession. SDSU ran 14 more plays than the Penguins as well.

The teams traded field goals in the opening quarter as Cejudo made a 32-yard while Syrotvatka knocked kicks through from 25 and 35 yards. The Guins defense did a good job of making the drives stall, but SDSU's first possession was 11 plays and second was 13.

After falling behind 3-0, Cejudo converted his 32-yard kick to tie the game with 6:27 left in the period. But with two seconds left Justin Syrotvatka's second field goal of the quarter gave the Jackrabbits a 6-3 lead.

After swapping field goals, the teams traded five touchdowns, fortunately for the Guins they had three of the scores.

The first touchdown was a Ruiz six-yard run that was setup following a 53-yard pass from Wells to Williams. The second came when Webb caught a 22-yard pass from Wells on a wheel play down the sidelines.

Late in the half as SDSU regained the lead at 20-17 on a 24-yard touchdown pass from Lujan to Wieneke, the Penguins moved 85 yards in nine plays as Wells called his own number for a four-yard score with just 11 seconds in the second quarter.

The Penguins return home to face South Dakota next Saturday at Stambaugh Stadium, Kickoff for the contest is set for 2 p.m.