Penguins Close Out Non-Conference Slate Against Central Connecticut State

Damoun Patterson
Damoun Patterson

    The Youngstown State football team continues an early season homestand against Central Connecticut State on Saturday. Kickoff for the game at Stambaugh Stadium is set for 2:04 p.m. The game is available on Watch ESPN, WKBN 570 AM and iHeartRadio.
    YSU (1-1) picked up its first shutout victory since September 2012 with a 30-0 win over Robert Morris in its home opener last Saturday at Stambaugh Stadium. Despite losing starting QB Hunter Wells on the first series of the game, the offense scored three touchdowns and PK Zak Kennedy made three field goals. YSU outgained RMU 429-147 in the contest as well.
    QB Nathan Mays came on in replace of Wells and completed 13-of-17 passes for 149 yards while rushing for 63 yards on seven carries. A pair of Kennedy field goals in the first quarter put the Penguins ahead 6-0. In the second quarter, Mays had the first rushing touchdown of his YSU career taking it in from 10 yards out. Another Kennedy field goal in the third quarter extended the advantage to 16-0. In the fourth, Mays connected with TE Kevin Rader on a five-yard score before Tevin McCaster finished off the scoring with a 10-yard run.
    Central Connecticut State (0-2) has dropped contests to Syracuse and Fordham to start the campaign. The Blue Devils lost a wild 38-31 decision to Fordham last Saturday at Arute Field in New Britain, Conn. CCSU jumped out to a 17-0 lead behind a game-opening kickoff return for a touchdown  and a fumble return for a score. The Rams eventually took a 21-17 lead before CCSU added a pair of touchdowns to go ahead 31-21 midway through the third quarter. Fordham tied the game at 31 with 4:43 left, and its game-winning score came with just 1:27 remaining when Lawrence Menyah returned an interception 29 yards for a score.
    This is the second meeting between the Penguins and Blue Devils. The two teams played on Sept. 18, 2010, at Stambaugh Stadium. YSU won that contest 63-24, tying a then school record for points The Guins had eight rushing touchdowns in the contest with three plays having at least two.
    YSU does not play next Saturday before opening MVFC play with a key matchup vs. South Dakota State on Sept. 30.

 

  

Quick Notes
• YSU has won nine straight home games, which is tied for the fourth-longest streak in school history. The Penguins were 8-0 at home last year and added a win over RMU to open this season.
• YSU has won 19 consecutive home games in the month of September dating back to 2009, including a win over the Blue Devils in 2010.
• In his three years with the program, Head Coach Bo Pelini is 9-1 against non-MVFC/FBS teams.
• QB Nathan Mays scored his first rushing touchdown and had his first passing touchdown in the victory.
• It was YSU's first shutout since blanking Valparaiso on Sept. 8, 2012 (59-0). It was the 11th time in a home opener that the Penguins shut out an opponent.
• PK Zak Kennedy made three field goals in a game for the sixth time in his career. He made kicks of 23, 27 and 30 with his lone miss coming from 56 yards.
• TE Kevin Rader caught the third touchdown pass of his career. Rader caught a TD pass in the win over RMU last year as well.
• First-time starters for the Penguins were SS Kyle Hegedus and TE Chris Durkin.
• YSU did not punt in the game. It was the fourth time in school history the Penguins did not punt in a game and first since 2011.
• The defense has not surrendered a touchdown in the last six regulation quarters. YSU has not allowed a point in the second half this season.
• Each one of YSU's eight drives against RMU lasted six plays or more.
• OT Justin Spencer has started 41 straight games on the offensive line. Spencer, Gavin Wiggins and Vitas Hrynkiewicz have started the past 18 games together on the line.
• YSU has 20 seniors on the roster with 12 on the offensive side and eight on defense. Four positions have the bulk of the group - four wide receivers, three tight ends, three offensive lineman and three in the secondary.
• LB Armand Dellovade, P Mark Schuler, OT Justin Spencer and C Vitas Hrynkiewicz were named first-team preseason All-MVFC in 2017.

Last Time Out: YSU 30, RMU 0
    YSU picked up its first shutout victory since September 2012 with a 30-0 win over Robert Morris in its home opener last Saturday at Stambaugh Stadium. Despite losing starting QB Hunter Wells on the first series of the game, the offense scored three touchdowns and PK Zak Kennedy made three field goals. YSU outgained RMU 429-147 in the contest as well.
    QB Nathan Mays came on in replace of Wells and completed 13-of-17 passes for 149 yards while rushing for 63 yards on seven carries. A pair of Kennedy field goals in the first quarter put the Penguins ahead 6-0. In the second quarter, Mays had the first rushing touchdown of his YSU career taking it in from 10 yards out. Another Kennedy field goal in the third quarter extended the advantage to 16-0. In the fourth, Mays connected with TE Kevin Rader on a five-yard score before Tevin McCaster finished off the scoring with a 10-yard run.

Last Meeting: YSU 43, CCSU 24
    YSU tied a then school record for points and rushing touchdowns in a game in a 63-24 victory over Central Connecticut State at Stambaugh Stadium on Sept. 2010. The Guins scored eight rushing touchdowns and capped the onslaught with a 20-yard fumble return for a score by Jaimie Frasure.
    The Penguins scored four plays into the game when Jamaine Cook raced 45 yards for a score. CCSU tied the contest late in the first period before the teams traded touchdowns early in the second.
    YSU scored three straight touchdowns, breaking open a 14-all tie to lead 35-14 at halftime. The Guins outscored the Blue Devils 28-10 in the second half, with 21 points coming in the final quarter.
    Cook had three scores and 174 yards on just 14 carries to lead the way on the ground. Adaris Bellamy and Jordan Thompson also had two scores while Allen Jones added a fourth-quarter touchdown.
    Frasure became the first player since 2002 to return a fumble for a touchdown.

September Home Win Streak
    The Penguins have won 19 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 29-1 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. YSU has two more home games in September this season.

Home Opener Win Streak
    The Penguins have won 22 straight home openers dating back to the 1995 campaign when it lost to Stephen F. Austin. In the 22 games since then, YSU has outscored its opponents by an impressive 823-231 margin.
    Since then the Penguins have posted four shutouts, including last week vs. RMU, while the most points allowed was 23 by Duquesne in 2014. On offense, the Guins have scored at least 21 points in each of those games and gone over 30 on 16 occasions, including a high of 77 versus Valparaiso in 2011.
Non-Conference Home Success
      YSU has won 32 of its last 33 non-conference 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 19 straight at home against non-conference foes. All 19 wins have come against FCS programs, including four last year and two playoff victories.

No TD Streak
    The Penguins have not allowed a touchdown in the second half this season through two games. YSU has not surrendered a touchdown in regulation in each of the past six quarters.
    After Pitt had three touchdowns in the first half, the defense held the Panthers off the scoreboard unit overtime.
    Against Robert Morris, YSU kept the Colonials out of the end zone and to just a pair of field goal attempts.
    The last time the Penguins recorded back-to-back shutouts was in 1996 when they blanked Slippery Rock and Wofford.

Sack Attack Continues
    The Penguins had a tall task following up last year's 49-sack effort. So far, so good on the pressure front as YSU has seven through games.
    Against RMU the Guins had four sacks following up a three-sack contest vs. Pitt. Five players have a sack this year, and DE Fazson Chapman, DE Justus Reed and DT Wesley Thompson have had sacks in each of the first two games this year.

Justus Is Served
    Newcomer DE Justus Reed has made a big impact so far for the Penguins. Reed had two sacks against Robert Morris and a strip sack in the opener at Pittsburgh.
    Reed had three QB hurries in the win over RMU as well and one at Pitt.
    In two games he has eight total tackles with three solo stops and five assists.

Happy Mays Day
    Sophomore QB Nathan Mays came on in the first series of the game and led the Penguins to the win over RMU.
    Mays completed 13-of-17 passes for 149 yards while rushing for 63 yards on seven carries. He had the first passing and first rushing TDs of his career against RMU.
    Last season, Mays had 35 carries for 126 yards while completing 11-of-18 passes for 133 yards.

Nine For the Sixth Time
    The Penguins have won nine straight home games, which ties for the fourth longest winning streak in school history. It is the sixth time the program has won nine straight games at home in program history.
    Last year YSU was a perfect 8-0 at home and opened with a win over RMU last Saturday.
    The longest home winning streak is 13 games, which encompassed the 1992 and 1993 campaigns. It's the longest home winning streak for the program since winning 11 straight from 2004-06.

Another Sensation Rader Grab
    Senior TE Kevin Rader had another highlight reel touchdown grab when he snatched a Nathan Mays pass out of thin air against RMU.
    Rader had a nice catch for a five-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. It marked the second straight year he caught a TD pass against the Colonials.
    It was the third touchdown of his career. The other came last year at Eastern Washington.

Kennedy Booms Three FGs
    Junior PK Zak Kennedy kicked three field goals in the win over RMU. Kennedy made kicks of 23, 27 and 30 yards in the win. It was the sixth time in his career that he made three field goals in a game.
    His lone miss of the game was a 56-yard try right before halftime. Kennedy had the distance, but the kick went just wide.
    Kennedy was 19-of-29 last season despite missing two games with an injury. He was 11-of-17 before his injury and since returning to the lineup went 8-of-12. At Jacksonville State he had one of the best games of his career making 4-of-5 attempts. On a freezing cold day at EWU he was 2-of-2, making a 42-yarder in the contest.
    In 2015, he had an outstanding first year making 19-of-23 attempts to earn first-team All-MVFC honors.
    In his two seasons as YSU's placekicker, Kennedy is 41-of-56 in field-goal tries.

McCaster TD A Good Sign
    Junior TB Tevin McCaster has started the past two games at tailback for the Penguins. McCaster has rushed for more than 73 yards in both games and had 89 yards on 23 carries in the win over RMU.
    McCaster has scored touchdowns in each of the first two games this season. In his career, YSU is 9-2 when he scores a touchdown, including an 8-1 record a year ago.
    Last season, McCaster was second on the team in touchdowns with 11 while rushing for 652 yards on 129 carries in 2016. His best performance was EWU where he had a career-high 154 yards on 29 carries and scored three touchdowns in the FCS semifinals.
    He was the only running back to play in all 16 games in 2016.

Turner Turns Heads
    All fall camp a freshman wearing No. 20 had been turning heads and so far he has been a key contributor through two games.
    TB Christian Turner has had more than 100 all-purpose yards in each of his first two games. At Pittsburgh, he had 189 all-purpose yards and followed that with 107 more against Robert Morris.
    Replacing a key player who wore No. 20 for the past four seasons – Jody Webb – Turner showed some Webb-like qualities in his first career game. Turner caught five passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns vs. Pitt. Turner caught fourth-quarter scores of 25 and 42 as YSU rallied to tie the game and force overtime.
    Against RMU, he had 89 yards rushing on 17 carries and caught two passes for 18 yards.

Spencer A Mainstay
    Senior OT Justin Spencer, a preseason third-team All-America pick, has been a mainstay on the offensive line for the Guins since 2014.
    A preseason All-MVFC first-team selection, Spencer has started all 41 games in his YSU career. After playing right tackle his first two years with the program, Spencer moved to left tackle in 2016 where he started all 16 games for the Penguins.
    He was a second-team All-MVFC pick in 2016 and an honorable-mention selection in 2015.

True Freshmen See Action
    Last year YSU played two true freshmen, one was kickoff specialist and the other a special teams/reserve linebacker. After two games in 2017, YSU has played three, and all are in key roles. TB Christian Turner has a team-high 296 all-purpose yards. He finished with 189 all-purpose yards at Pitt. CB Bryce Gibson started in his debut game and agianst RMU. Jake Coates is YSU's punt returner and one of the kickoff returners used during the game.

100-Yard Receivers
    For the first time since 2009, YSU had two players with 100-or-more yards receiving in the same game.
    Against Pitt, TB Christian Turner (124) and TE Kevin Rader (100) each had more than 100 yards receiving. It was the first time YSU had two 100-yard receivers in a game since  WRs Donald Jones and Dominique Barnes had more than 100 yards against Illinois State.
    The last running back with 100-plus yards receiving was Lorenzo Davis on Dec. 2, 1989, at Furman while the last tight end with more than 100 yards was Will Shaw (120) at South Dakota State in 2012.

Second Half Surge
    The Penguins found their offensive and defensive grooves the second half against Pittsburgh.
    YSU's offense had 276 yards in the second half while holding Pitt to just 85 yards. The Penguins threw for 186 yards while rushing for 96 yards on 16 carries. In the first half, YSU had minus-one yard rushing and 131 yards passing. The Guins had five first downs in the first half and 13 in the second half.
    The defense held Pitt to 56 rushing yards in the second half after allowing 146 in the first half. The Panthers had just 29 yards passing after throwing for 93 in the first half.

First Time Sackers
    Against Pittsburgh, the Penguins had three players record their first career sacks in the game.
    DE Fazson Chapman, DE Justus Reed and DT Wesley Thompson all had the first sacks of their YSU careers. It was the first YSU appearances for Reed and Thompson and the first career YSU start for Chapman.
    Reed had a sack-fumble that set up the game-tying touchdown in the fourth quarter. Thompson's sack came on a third-and-goal and forced Pitt to try a field goal, which it missed.

20 Seniors Breakdown
    The roster features 20 seniors who have come to YSU through a variety of ways. Eight of the 20 have spent their entire college careers at YSU.
    Five players are fifth-year seniors - Ricky Davis, Cole Newsome, Anthony Parente, Kevin Rader and Justin Spencer. Davis has moved to wide receiver after serving as a quarterback his first four years. Rader was a originally a defensive end for two seasons before moving to tight end.
    DE Fazson Chapman came to YSU in 2013, then spent the 2014 season at Rochester Community College, before returning in 2015.
    Three seniors on the roster joined the program in 2014 and never redshirted - TE Shane Kuhn, DB DJ Thomas and QB Hunter Wells. LB Lee Wright transferred to YSU from Appalachian State while OT Cameron Fraser joined the team from Louisville in 2014.
    Those who have been with the program for three seasons include Big Ten transfers Jalyn Powell (Michigan State) and Soloman Warfield (Iowa) and juco transfer Lasander Washington.
    Five junior college transfers and an FBS transfer are in their second seasons at YSU. Alvin Bailey joined the program in the spring of 2016 from Florida. Junior college transfers who came to YSU last summer are Stefan Derrick, Donald Mesier, Trent Hosick, Billy Nicoe Hurst and Damoun Patterson.
    Hosick came to YSU as a quarterback but is a reserve defensive back this season.

Offensive Line A Key
    A big key to YSU's success last year was the offensive line. Four Penguins started all 16 games while the same unit was in the starting lineup for the final 13 contests.
    Three of those Penguins return this season in C Vitas Hrynkiewicz, OG Gavin Wiggins and OT Justin Spencer. Dylan Colucci started all 16 games at right tackle last year while Brock Eisenhuth started the final 13 at right guard.
    Cameron Fraser, who started the first three games at guard last year, is starting at right tackle this year. Jacob Zinni, a third-year sophomore, made his first career start at right guard vs. Pitt. It was just Zinni's third game in his YSU career.

Dellovade a Key Stopper
    Junior LB Armand Dellovade, a 2016 second-team all-league selection, has continued his strong play at the outset of the 2017 campaign.
    In two games, Dellovade has 12 tackles, including a nine-tackle performance at Pitt. Last season he led the Penguins with 105 tackles, including 70 solo stops. He was third with 11.5 TFLs, which included a pair of sacks.
    In conference play, he had 60 total tackles, highlighted by a career-high 11 stops against South Dakota State on Oct. 22. Dellovade had five-or-more tackles in 13 of the last 14 games. Against JMU in the national title game he had seven tackles, including five solos. In total he had 31 tackles in the five playoff games.

The Wright Stuff
    Senior LB Lee Wright, a 2015 second-team All-MVFC honoree, is off to a fast start this year. In two games, Wright has 16 total tackles, eight of which are solo stops.
    Last season, he started three of the final four playoff games for the Penguins and was credited with 29 total tackles (21 solos) in the postseason.
    In the National Championship Game against JMU, he had eight total tackles, five of which were solo stops. At EWU he had seven tackles (four solos), three TFLs, two QB hurries and a pass breakup. Against Wofford he had seven tackles, including six solo stops. In his first start of the year at Jacksonville State, he had six tackles, including five solos, and a pass breakup.
    In 2015, Wright started all 11 games and led the Penguins with 78 total tackles, including 48 solo stops. He also had six sacks and 9.5 TFLs.

TE's Play Big Role
    Three of YSU's four tight ends - Chris Durkin, Shane Kuhn and Kevin Rader - each caught passes in the win over Robert Morris. Durkin had the longest catch, 29 yards, while Rader added his third career touchdown.
    To open the season, Rader caught a career-high six passes for 100 yards against Pittsburgh.
    YSU has three senior tight ends in Rader, Kuhn and Anthony Parente and Durkin, a fourth-year junior in transfer.
    Rader had a career year last year with 17 receptions. Kuhn tied a career-high with six catches and has 12 in his career. Kuhn also has 31 rushes for 95 yards and five touchdowns.
    In total, the group has combined to play 89 games the past three years. In fact all three seniors have played in every game since the start of the 2015 season. Kuhn has missed one game since 2014 while Parente has not played in two. Rader played defensive end in 2014.

Numbers of Note
• Turnover Margin: Since 1996, the Penguins are 131-33 when they win or tie in the turnover margin. When committing more turnovers, YSU is just 25-65.
Since 1990 YSU is:
• 158-19-2 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points in a game.
• 133-16 when rushing for 200-plus yards.
• 155-25 when scoring 28-or-more points.
• 84-9-1 when holding opponents to fewer than 100 yards rushing in a game.
• 184-15 when leading entering the fourth.
• 84-3-2 when holding opponents to 10 points-or-less in a game.
More recently:
• YSU has scored points in 110 straight games.