Penguins Set to Host Robert Morris For Second Straight Year

Vitas Hrynkiewicz
Vitas Hrynkiewicz

    The No. 20 Youngstown State football team closes out the non-conference portion of its schedule with a contest against Robert Morris at Stambaugh Stadium on Saturday. Kickoff for the contest is set for 4 p.m. The game is available on WKBN 570 AM, iHeartRadio and ESPN3/WatchESPN App.
    YSU (1-1) is coming off a 38-21 defeat at West Virginia as it returns to Stambaugh Stadium. The Penguins took a 14-7 lead in the second quarter after scoring a pair of touchdowns in a span of 3:34. The first score, a one-yard run by Martin Ruiz, tied the game, and Ricky Davis' 74-yard touchdown pass to Alvin Bailey put the Guins ahead 14-7. But the Mountaineers tied the contest at halftime and used a 17-0 third quarter to get the best of the Penguins. QB Trent Hosick's first career touchdown run in the fourth quarter cut the deficit to 31-21 with 8:44 left in the game. WVU responded just over three minutes later with a 21-yard scoring toss from Skyler Howard to Kennedy McKoy for the final outcome.
    RMU (0-2) has dropped two low-scoring games following a weather-shortened 13-0 defeat at Dayton last Saturday. The contest was called with 9:37 left in the fourth quarter after the teams waited nearly two hours to complete the contest. Dayton scored 10 points in the second quarter and added a field goal in the third for the only scoring of the contest. RMU was held to 62 yards of total offense on 35 plays while the Flyers had 319 on 75 snaps. The Colonials lost their opener 14-7 to Alderson Broaddus.
    The teams played in a steady and sometimes heavy rain last season at Stambaugh Stadium as the Penguins had to rally late to pull out the victory. After being held scoreless in the first half, YSU tied the contest on a one-yard run by Ruiz. The Colonials went ahead 14-7 early in the fourth quarter. YSU answered with a 12-play, 75-yard drive that tied the game when Hunter Wells connected with Shane Kuhn for a one-yard score. On fourth-and-1 from the two-yard line in overtime, Wells found I'Tavious Harvin to put YSU ahead 21-14. The YSU defense stiffened inside the five-yard line as RMU threatened, and Derek Rivers sacked Mathew Barr to end the contest.
    YSU is idle next Saturday before opening Missouri Valley Football Conference play on Oct. 1 against South Dakota.

 

 

Quick Notes
• In their last two games against Power Five foes, the Guins have scored 58 points (37 at Pitt in 2015 and 21 at WVU). In the first 10 contests against Power Five teams, YSU had 97 points, 31 of which came at the win at Pittsburgh in 2012.
• WR Alvin Bailey and QB Trent Hosick each scored the first touchdowns of their YSU careers in the contest.
• TB Martin Ruiz scored the 31st rushing touchdown of his Penguin career in the contest. That total ties Marcus Mason for seventh most in YSU history.
• For the first time in his YSU career, PK Zak Kennedy did not attempt a field goal in a game. Kennedy had a field-goal try in the first 12 games of his Penguins career. He has made his last eight attempts dating back to the contest at Western Illinois.
• The Penguins picked up 405 yards in the contest at WVU. YSU had 220 yards through the air and 185 via the rush.
• A total of 10 different players caught at least one pass in the game.
• P Mark Schuler had an impressive afternoon averaging 44.5 yards per punt on eight punts. He had three punts travel at least 50 yards (highlighted by a 59-yard boot) and placed three inside WVU's 20-yard line.
• Senior DE Derek Rivers has been tabbed a first-team preseason All-American, senior FS LeRoy Alexander a second-team All-American and sophomore PK Zak Kennedy a third-team All-American by STATS, Inc.
• Rivers has had at least one sack in 12 of his last 18 games. He had the 27th of his career - adding to his school mark - against Duquesne.
• Making their first career starts at WVU were DT Savon Smith and Bailey.

Last Time Out: WVU 38, YSU 21
    Youngstown State was tied at halftime at West Virginia, but the Mountaineers scored 17 third-quarter points to take control as the Penguins dropped a 38-21 decision last Saturday at Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown.
    The Penguins took a 14-7 lead in the second quarter after scoring a pair of touchdowns in a span of 3:34. The first score, a one-yard run by Martin Ruiz, tied the game, and Ricky Davis' 74-yard touchdown pass to Alvin Bailey put the Guins ahead 14-7.
    But the Mountaineers tied the contest at halftime and used a 17-0 third quarter to get the best of the Penguins. QB Trent Hosick's first career touchdown run in the fourth quarter cut the deficit to 31-21 with 8:44 left in the game.
    WVU responded just over three minutes later with a 21-yard scoring toss from Skyler Howard to Kennedy McKoy for the final outcome.

Last Meeting: YSU 21, RMU 14
    YSU rallied from two seven-point deficits to fight off a pesky Robert Morris squad 21-14 in overtime on a rainy night last year.
    Just 50 seconds into the game, the Penguins trailed 7-0 following a 41-yard run by RMU's Rameses Owens. The Guins tied the contest in the third quarter when Martin Ruiz scored on a one-yard run.
    The Colonials regained the lead early in the fourth quarter when Owens scored from 10 yards out with 13:25 left. But the Penguins answered with a 12-play, 75-yard drive that was capped by a Hunter Wells to Shane Kuhn touchdown pass on fourth-and-goal from the RMU 1-yard line.
    In overtime, YSU scored another fourth-down touchdown as Wells threw a two-yard pass to I'tavious Harvin on fourth-and-1. RMU moved to the YSU five-yard line, but on fourth down, Derek Rivers sacked RMU's Mathew Barr to end the game.

Non-Conference Home Success
  YSU has won 27 of its last 28 non-conference regular-season home games since September 2004. The lone loss was a final-play 31-28 setback to Liberty in 2008.
    Since falling to the Flames on Sept. 27, 2008, the Penguins have won 16 straight at home against non-conference foes. All 16 wins have come against FCS programs.
    In the 16 games, the Guins have outscored the opposition 706-238 (an average of 43.7-16.1).

September Home Winning Streak
    The Penguins have won 17 straight home games in the month of September dating back to the start of the 2009 season.
    Since losing to Florida International in overtime on Sept. 11, 2004, YSU is 27-1 in September at Stambaugh Stadium. The lone loss was a final-play defeat to Liberty in 2008 (31-28). The Penguins own MVFC victories over UNI (2012), Illinois State (2011), Southern Illinois (2010) and Missouri State (2007) during that stretch.

Pennsylvania Visitors
    The Penguins have had a tremendous amount of success against visitors from the Keystone State.
    The last time YSU lost a home game to a team from Pennsylvania was to Villanova on Oct. 28, 1978 (22-17).
    Since that time, the Guins have won 33 straight home games against teams from Pennsylvania.
    Most of those contests have come against members of the Division II PSAC. YSU has three wins over Duquesne and Saint Francis (Pa.) and a pair of wins against Villanova. YSU beat Robert Morris in the first meeting between the schools last season.

Schuler Steps Up
    Redshirt freshman P Mark Schuler had an impressive day in the Penguins' 38-21 loss to West Virginia.
    Schuler punted eight times for an average of 44.5 yards a kick and totaled 356 yards on the afternoon. Schuler 51, 59, 50, 32, 32, 41, 47 and 44 yards in the game. He had a pair of punts downed at the 14-yard line and one at one-yard line.
    He nearly placed two more inside the 10, but they went for touchbacks.

Bailey Scores First TD
    Florida transfer WR Alvin Bailey had the best game of his brief YSU career at West Virginia.
    Bailey caught three passes for 92 yards and a touchdown in the Penguins' 38-21 loss to the Mountaineers.
    His day was highlighted by a 74-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter that gave YSU at 14-7 lead.
    In the opener against Duquesne, Bailey also had three grabs for 32 yards. He leads the Penguins with six receptions through two games.

Offensive Output
    The Penguins have eclipsed the 400-yard mark in total offense in each of the first two games. YSU opened the year with a 610-yard performance against Duquesne and totaled 405 yards at West Virginia.
    Last year YSU went over 400 yards on five occasions. Under offensive coordinator Shane Montgomery the Penguins have amassed more than 400 yards on 37 occasions.
    That 610 yards against DU was the seventh most in a game in school history. YSU has gone over 600 yards of total offense nine times in school history and five of those have come since 2011. YSU Offensive Coordinator Shane Montgomery has been with the program since 2010.

O-Line Off to Solid Start
    The offensive line, which has had the same lineup the first two games, is yet to allow a sack this season. QBs Ricky Davis and Trent Hosick have attempted 50 passes and run the ball 28 times this season. Even more impressive is that only one QB hurry has been registered by the opposition.
    The starting group the first two games has been Justin Spencer, Gavin Wiggins, Vitas Hrynkiwicz, Cameron Fraser and Dylan Colucci.

Davis Strong as Starter
    Junior QB Ricky Davis has started the first two games for the Penguins this season. Davis has 136 yards rushing on 23 attempts while completing 23-of-42 passes for 376 yards. He has thrown four touchdown passes and no interceptions this season.
    At WVU, he completed 11-of-26 passes for 189 yards and a touchdown. His touchdown was a perfect 74-yard strike to WR Alvin Bailey in the second quarter. He led the Penguins in rushing with 62 yards on 13 carries, averaging 4.8 yards per carry.
    In three quarters and two fourth-quarter handoffs of play against Duquesne, he rushed for 74 yards on 10 carries while competing 12-of-16 passes for 187 yards and three touchdowns.
    Davis had eight completions for 142 yards and one touchdown in his career before taking the reigns of the offense in the opener.

Experienced Tailback Duo
    The Penguins boast one of the most experienced backfield tandems in the FCS in seniors Martin Ruiz and Jody Webb.
    Ruiz has played in 37 games and has rushed for 3,290 yards on 673 carries and scored 31 touchdowns. Webb has played in 34 contests, rushing for 2,013 yards on 284 attempts while scoring 24 touchdowns. Both runners rank in the top 11 in the FCS in active career yardage.
    Ruiz ranks fifth in YSU history in career attempts, sixth in school history in career rushing yards while ranking seventh in rushing TDs. Webb has averaged an impressive 7.1 yards a run, which is the best in YSU history. His yardage total ranks 19th in YSU history while his 24 touchdowns are 14th.

McCaster Involved
    Sophomore TB Tevin McCaster had a solid fall camp and has seen some key playing time at the outset of the season.
    Against Duquesne, he carried the ball seven times for 107 yards and a touchdown. Impressively all seven carries came in the fourth quarter. It took him just 11 offensive snaps from his first carry, which was a three-yard loss, to amass 107 yards. On his final six rushes he had 110 yards, averaging 18.3 yards per carry.
    At West Virginia he had a career-high 12 carries for 41 yards to go along with two receptions - the first of his career.

Call 911
    The Penguins' defensive-end combo of Avery Moss (No. 9) and Derek Rivers (No. 11) is one of the top ones in the nation.
    WVU Head Coach Dana Holgorsen was quoted as saying on Monday following the contest "These two cats that we played against from Youngstown State were as good of pass rushers as I've seen" (h/t @mitchsherman).
    Moss had a strong game being credited with six solo tackles against the Mountaineers. Rivers had a pair of solo tackles, two QB hurries and a pass breakup in the contest. Rivers also had two hurries in the opener and a sack. Moss had a pair of hurries as well against Duquesne.

Smith In Double Digits
    SS Jameel Smith led the Penguins with 12 total tackles at West Virginia. Smith had a career-high 10 solo stops in the ballgame. His previous best was nine, which came in last year's snowy season finale at Indiana State.
    It was the third time in his career he recorded at least 12 tackles in a game. He had a career-best 14 stops against the Sycamores in 2015 and was credited with 13 earlier in the season at Southern Illinois.
    Overall he has recorded double digits in tackles in three of the last seven games.

Rivers Garnering Accolades
    Senior DE Derek Rivers has been named to numerous preseason All-America teams at the outset of the 2016 campaign.
    Rivers, a two-time first-team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference honoree, has been named to the preseason All-America first teams by STATS Inc., and HERO Sports. He was also tabbed a preseason first-team All-MVFC selection. He is one of 22 players on the STATS Top Defensive Player Watch List. Rivers was in the running for the award as well in 2015.

Webb is Big-Play Scorer
    Senior TB Jody Webb had four multi-touchdown performances in 2015.
    In the season finale at Indiana State, which was played in a snowstorm, he returned a pair of kickoffs 93 yards for touchdowns and had a 26-yard scoring run in the slippery conditions.
    Webb had two rushing scores against North Dakota State, Saint Francis and Pittsburgh.
    He scored on runs of 77 and 45 against North Dakota State, scored on runs of 22 and 20 yards in the win against Saint Francis and had touchdown runs of 75 and 27 yards at Pittsburgh in the season opener.
    In his career, Webb has been a big-play touchdown scorer. Of his 24 career rushing touchdowns, 14 have been of more than 20 yards.

Rivers Owns YSU Sack Mark
    Senior DE Derek Rivers is the school's all-time sack leader with 27.
    On Oct. 17, 2015, following a two-sack performance against South Dakota State, Rivers eclipsed the school mark of 22 which had been held by Jermaine Hopkins since 1995. Hopkins played for the Penguins from 1992-95, and his career sack totals include postseason contests.
    Impressively, it took Rivers just 28 games to break the 20-year-old record.
    Last season, Rivers had nine sacks after registering 14 sacks in 2014. During his first campaign in 2013 he had three.
    He opened the season with a sack, fumble recovery, two TFLs and two QB hurries against Duquesne.  He had two solo tackles, two QB hurries and a PBU at West Virginia.

Townsend Scores Twice
    Junior WR Darien Townsend showed he can become a deep threat for the YSU offense. Townsend caught three passes for 91 yards and two scores in the opener win over Duquesne.
    Four plays into the game, Townsend hauled in a 49-yard strike from QB Ricky Davis. On a third-and-4 at the DU 45, Townsend caught a pass for a six-yard gain and a first down. Two plays later he had his second touchdown of the night catching a 36-yard toss from Davis. On the play, he caught the ball at the 17 and pulled one defender 15 yards while giving another a free 10-yard ride.
    Eight of Townsend's 10 catches last year came in the final five games. He now has 12 catches in the past seven contests.

New Faces At Wideout
     Except for WR Darien Townsend and Isiah Scott the receiving corps is totally revamped from 2015.
    New targets this year include Florida transfer Alvin Bailey and junior-college transfers Stefan Derrick and Damoun Patterson.
    Through the first two games, Bailey has a team-high six receptions, Derrick has four and Patterson has two. Townsend has four grabs while Scott, who caught one pass last season, had two grabs for 43 yards at West Virginia.
    The active career leader on the squad in receptions is TB Martin Ruiz with 59 catches while the second is Webb (38).

Kennedy Set FG Mark
    Sophomore PK Zak Kennedy set the school record with 19 field goals in 2015. Kennedy was a first-team All-Missouri Valley Football Conference honoree in his first year. He became the first freshman placekicker since UNI's Scott Obermeier in 1992 to be tabbed first-team all-league.
    In his career, he has made field goals in 11 games and attempted kicks in 12 of 13 contests. He has made his last nine attempts at home after missing his first two tries. He is also on a streak of eight straight makes overall.
     Kennedy was just the fifth kicker in school history to make at least 17 field goals in the same season joining Mark Griffith, Jeff Wilkins (twice), Robert Fozkos and Paul McFadden.
    Also, the 19 field goals were a team record for a season, eclipsing the mark of 18 set in 2007.

Dellovade a Key Stopper
    Sophomore LB Armand Dellovade has continued to be a key figure in the Penguins' defense. At West Virginia last Saturday, Dellovade had seven tackles after recording a pair of stops in the opener against Duquesne.
    Dellovade came on strong as a true freshman finishing with 54 total tackles, including 32 solo stops. The honorable-mention all-league recipient started nine games and was fourth on the team in tackles.
    His 54 tackles were the most by a true freshman since Teven Williams had a team-high 67 stops in 2011. He also had four sacks in 2015, the most by a YSU freshman since OLB Mike Stanec had four in 1995.

18 Guins Hail from Florida
    The Penguins once again have a solid number of Florida natives on their roster. YSU boasts 18 players who hail from the Sunshine State on the 2016 team.
    The list of players from Florida include: Alvin Bailey, Kenny Bishop, Robert Byrd, Nate Dortch, I'Tavious Harvin, Chrispin Lee, Johnson Louigene, Donald Mesier, Damoun Patterson, Nathan Pittman, Jonathan Pollock, David Rivers, Martin Ruiz, Jamal Smith, Jameel Smith, Samuel St. Surin, Eric Thompson and Lasander Washington.

Alexander The Great
    Senior FS LeRoy Alexander had an outstanding first year with the Penguins in 2015 and was named first-team All-MVFC in his first year with the program after transferring from Nebraska.
    Alexander was second on the team a year ago with 67 total tackles, 38 of which were solo stops.
    He showed his versatility in the YSU defensive scheme registering a pair of sacks to go along with a team-high four interceptions. He was also credited with 3.5 TFLs.
    Against Illinois State he had a career-high 11 tackles, including seven solo stops.
Ruiz Model of Consistency
    Senior TB Martin Ruiz has rushed for at least 74 yards in a game on 28 occasions in 37 career games played.
    On 14 occasions he has rushed for more than 100 yards, including a career-high eight times as a sophomore in 2014. Last year he rushed for more than 100 yards twice.
    Additionally he has scored a touchdown in 22 games, with eight multi-TD performances.

Rivers The Past 25 Games
    Senior DE Derek Rivers has had a solid last two-plus years at YSU.
    In his career, Rivers has 120 total tackles, 80 of which are solos. He has an impressive 39 TFLs.
    As a junior, he had 52 tackles, including an impressive 37 solo stops. He had 15.5 TFLs and nine sacks on the campaign as well. As a sophomore, Rivers was credited with 50 total tackles, including 17 TFLs and 14 sacks. So in the last 24 games, he has 105 total tackles, 34.5 TFLs and 24 sacks. He is averaging 4.3 stops, 1.3 TFLs and almost sack a game.

Ruiz High On Lists
    Senior TB Martin Ruiz ranks fifth in school history with 673 careers and is sixth in school history with 3,290 yards rushing.
    He is one of seven players in school history to rush for more than 3,000 yards in a career.
    With 31 rushing touchdowns, he is tied for seventh with Marcus Mason and is one back of Marschell Brumfield for sixth. Ruiz ranks sixth in all-purpose yards with 4,095 while senior TB Jody Webb is 17th with 3,130.
    Ruiz is just 59 yards shy of moving ahead of Adrian Brown for fifth in all-purpose yards.

Numbers of Note
• Turnover Margin: Since 1996, the Penguins are 123-32 when they win or tie in the turnover margin. When committing more turnovers, YSU is just 21-60.
Since 1990 YSU is:
• 150-19-2 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points in a game.
• 123-16 when rushing for 200-plus yards.
• 146-25 when scoring 28-or-more points.
• 77-9-1 when holding opponents to fewer than 100 yards rushing in a game.
• 177-15 when leading entering the fourth.
• 79-3-2 when holding opponents to 10 points-or-less in a game.
More recently:
• YSU has scored points in 93 straight games.

Up Next: Idle/South Dakota
    The Penguins are off next Saturday before starting the guantlet of Missouri Valley Football Conference play on Oct. 1 against South Dakota. Kickoff for the contest against the Coyotes is set for 4 p.m. at Stambaugh Stadium.