The Youngstown State football team will look to start the season with consecutive victories when the Penguins play host to Clarion on Saturday, Sept. 8. Kickoff at Stambaugh Stadium is set for 7 p.m. Youngstown State (1-0) is coming off a 38-7 season-opening victory over Lock Haven on August 30. The Golden Eagles (0-1) lost their season opener at East Stroudsburg 33-27.
In the opening-night win over Lock Haven, the Penguins special teams scored two touchdowns and tailback P.J. Mays (Youngstown, Ohio) rushed for a career-best 226 yards. Mays' mark was the sixth-best individual game effort in school history. Sophomore Darius Peterson (Cleveland, Ohio) blocked a punt and returned it 36 yards for a touchdown while senior Andre Coleman (Warren, Ohio) returned a kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown. The Penguins defense was strong yielding 199 total yards to the Bald Eagles.
For their efforts, Coleman was named the Gateway Football
Conference's Special Teams Player of the Week while Mays was named
the league's Offensive Player of the Week.
Clarion's attempt at a victory came up short against East Stroudsburg in the season opener for both schools. Clarion trailed 27-7 before scoring 20 unaswered points to tie the game.
However, ESU scored on a run with under two minutes left to pull out the win. The Golden Eagles were 8-3 last season and finished 5-1 in the PSAC's Western Division, tying for the league crown.
In four of the past five seasons the Penguins opened the season with consecutive victories. Last year, YSU won its first six games of the season en route to a 9-3 campaign. All-time against current teams in the PSAC, Youngstown State owns an 18-1 mark, having won 16 straight since 1972.
Last Game Recap: Penguins 38, Bald Eagles 7
The Youngstown State football team opened its 61st football season and 64th year of play with a 38-7 season-opening win over Lock Haven on Thursday, August 30. The victory gave Head Coach Jon Heacock a win in his debut. P.J. Mays rushed for a career-high 226 yards on 21 carries and had a 32-yard touchdown run. Mays' total ranked as the sixth-best single-game total in school history. Sophomore Darius Peterson scored a touchdown on a four-yard run and also scored a touchdown returning a blocked punt -- which he blocked -- 36 yards. The Penguins jumped out to a 28-0 lead and held a 14-0 advantage at halftime. Andre Coleman returned a kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter. It was YSU's first kickoff return for a touchdown since the 1990 season.
Game Notes: YSU improved to 4-0 all-time in August...the Penguins are now 34-25-2 in season openers...In its last 12 curtain raisers, YSU owns a 10-1-1 record...YSU has won six consecutive season openers...Bruce Hightower had the sixth interception of his career...YSU had 336 yards rushing, its most since a 348-yard effort against Southern Illinois on Nov. 8, 1997...The Penguins committed five turnovers, their most in a game since Sept. 14, 1991, against Delaware State (133 games ago). In their last two home games YSU has committed nine turnovers.
Clarion Golden Eagles Scouting Report
The Golden Eagles opened their 2001 season with a tough 33-27 loss at East Stroudsburg on Thursday, August 30. Clarion trailed 27-7 late in the third quarter but rallied to tie the ballgame at 27 when quarterback Adam Almashy hit Andy Pore on 21-yard touchdown pass with 3:51 remaining. But ESU answered with a 16-yard touchdown run to take a 33-27 advantage. The Golden Eagles advanced the ball to the ESU 30-yard line as time expired to suffer their first loss of the season.
Demetric Gardner rushed for 108 yards on 15 carries to lead the Golden Eagles. Robert Walker had touchdown runs of six and three yards during the comeback attempt. Almashy completed 8-of-31 passes for 93 yards. In the contest, Clarion rushed for 209 yards. ESU used a balanced attack of 195 yards rushing and 201 yards passing to earn the win. Clarion's Chris Janson had a team-high 10 tackles. Last year, Clarion finished with an 8-3 record and finished in a three-way tie with Slippery Rock and Indiana (Pa.) at 5-1 for the Western Division Championship.
The Clarion-YSU Series
This will be the fifth meeting between the Penguins and Golden Eagles and in the previous four contests, YSU has come out with a lopsided victory. YSU won the last meeting 50-6 at Stambaugh Stadium on Sept. 3, 1998. In the previous three meetings, YSU won 51-10 in 1996, 48-7 in 1992 and 46-0 in 1938, the Penguins' first season of organized football. In the 1998 game, Jeff Ryan had 18 yards rushing on five carries and completed 5-of-8 passes for 63 yards and one TD. Andre Coleman had a 23-yard reception and two kickoff returns for 65 yards, including a 34-yarder. Bruce Hightower, LeVar Greene and Mike Thomas all had tackles in the game.
Clarion-Youngstown State Connections
• Clarion Head Coach Malen Luke coached at YSU (defensive backs) under Bill Narduzzi in 1984 and 1985. Luke was the offensive coordinator at Canfield High School from 1976-80.
• YSU graduate assistant Don Houser was the tight end's and offensive line coach at Clarion before joining the YSU staff in August.
• Chris Roberts, who played for YSU last season, is listed on Clarion's roster.
• High School Teammates: Clarion's John Dock and YSU's John Bartos III were teammates at Urusline High School; Chris Roberts (Clarion) and Nick Roberts (YSU) at Champion; Adam Almashy (Clarion) and Craig Cicero (YSU) at Newton Falls; Danile Winkle (Clarion) and YSU's Ken Baun at Canfield; Jhermal Goss (Clarion) and YSU's Darius Peterson at Shaker Heights in Cleveland and Clarion's Shaun Saad and YSU's Ben Bair and Dave Colella at Poland.
Coleman, Mays Earn Conference P-O-W Accolades
Junior tailback P.J. Mays and senior kick-off returner Andre Coleman earned Gateway Football Conference Player-of-the-Week honors for their performances against Lock Haven last week. Mays rushed for 226 yards on 21 carries. His total was the sixth best single-game total in school history. Included in his total was a 32-yard touchdown run. Coleman returned a kickoff for a touchdown 89 yards against the Bald Eagles. For the Penguins it was the first time since Oct. 13, 1990 (140 games) when Archie Herring returned a kick 83 yards against Liberty.
Stambaugh Stadium Celebrates 20th Anniversary
The 2001 campaign marks the 20th season of Stambaugh Stadium, which opened in 1982. In the 20 seasons in the facility, YSU owns a 97-30-2 record (a .760 winning percentage).
Since the 1989 season, YSU is an impressive 74-15-1, including undefeated seasons in 1993 and 1994. The Penguins are 29-6 in the past five-plus years at the Ice Castle. At home in the playoffs, YSU is 12-1 having won 11 straight home games.
1982 Team to Be Honored at Halftime
More than 30 members of the Penguins' 1982 team will be honored at halftime as part of the first YSU team every to play in Stambaugh Stadium. Youngstown State lost the opener 20-19 to Akron on Sept. 4, 1982, when the Zips' Dennis Heckerman kicked a last-second 48-yard field goal for the victory. A crowd of 15,833 gathered to watch the first thriller of many to come in Stambaugh's history. After losing the first game, the Penguins rebounded to beat Tennessee Tech 37-14.
Nine Players Remain From 1997 Title Team
Nine members of the 1997 championship team remain part of the 2001 Penguin football team. Those nine players are defensive back Andre Coleman, wide receiver Sean Guerriero, offensive guard Lavelle Hawkes, strong safety Bruce Hightower, linebacker Carlos Pearson, linebacker Bob Sivik, center Dave Tesinarz, linebacker Mike Thomas and holder/wide receiver Steve Valley. All players except for Pearson redshirted that first season. Pearson saw limited action on the 1997 squad as a true freshman but after the season he left the squad. He returned this past spring.
Five Players Named Team Captains This Season
The Penguins have tabbed seniors Jeff Ryan, Dave Tesniarz, Bob Sivik, LeVar Greene and Bruce Hightower as the team captains for the 2001 season. Last season, with 12 seniors, the Penguins had game captains, but prior to this season, Coach Jon Heacock announced that Ryan, Tesniarz, Sivik, Greene and Hightower were named the captains for the season. YSU has 21 seniors on the roster this year.
YSU and First-Year Head Coaches
Jon Heacock is only the fifth head coach in Youngstown State football history and of those five coaches, four began their collegiate head coaching career at YSU. YSU's first head coach Dike Beede is the only coach who had prior collegiate head coaching experience before coming to YSU. The other three head coaches -- Jim Tressel, Bill Narduzzi and Rey Dempsey -- had never been a college head coach before taking over at Youngstown. Beede guided the team from 1938-72, Dempsey in 1973-74, Narduzzi from 1975-85 and Tressel from 1986-2000.
Heacock became only the second head coach in school history to win his first game on the sidelines. Narduzzi was the only other coach to win his debut beating Central State 10-0 in 1975. Narzduzzi won his first two ball games before losing to Western Illinois in his third game.
The best first-year coaching record was by Narduzzi in 1975 when he posted a 5-4 mark. In their first years, Beede was 4-5, Dempsey was 4-6 and Tressel was 2-9.
Coleman Becomes Youngstown State's "Slash"
Throughout his Youngstown State career, senior Andre Coleman has been called upon to fill various roles for the Penguins. This season will be no different as Coleman has been moved to defensive back. For the first three years of his career, Coleman was a wide receiver and returned kickoffs for the Penguins. During the past spring, he was moved to tailback before moving back to wideout for fall camp. But in the fall, he was moved to defensive back to help out with the lack of depth at the position. The move must have worked because in his first career game as a defensive back he returned a kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown.
Longest Kickoff Returns in School History
1. 91, Archie Herring vs. Edinboro 9/8/1990
1. 91, Robert Thompson vs. Western Kentucky 10/8/1983
3. 90, Harold Green vs. Gustavus Adolphus 11/10/1960
4. 89, Andre Coleman vs. Lock Haven 8/30/2001
4. 88, Malcolm Everette vs. Nevada 12/7/1991
Peterson Bursts on the Scene in First Year
Sophomore Darius Peterson has been an extremely pleasant surprise for YSU already this year and he made in impact in his first game. Peterson, a backup tailback, scored his first-career touchdown on a four-yard run in the second quarter against Lock Haven. In the third quarter, he blocked a Joe Walker punt and returned it 36 yards for a touchdown. Peterson, who was impressive in two scrimmages in the fall as a tailback, also had two special teams tackles and recovered a dropped YSU punt. For his efforts he was named the team's Special Teams Player of the Game.
Peterson sat out last season and walked-on to the YSU program in the spring as a wide receiver. He played at Division III Ohio Wesleyan before joining the Penguins in April.
Jeff Ryan Leads YSU Offense For Fourth Year
Senior quarterback Jeff Ryan is in his fourth year as the signal caller for the Penguins. Ryan, the all-time leader in career touchdown passes and rushing yards by a quarterback, ranks in the top six in 10 offensive categories. He has started 32 games in his career and owns a 22-10 record as a starter. He is 19-6 as a starter the since the 1999 season. In his career, he has rallied Youngstown State from behind to victory 13 times. (For a complete list of where Ryan stands in YSU's all-time statistical categories please check on page six of this release).
Mays Puts Forth Best Effort in Opener
Junior tailback P.J. Mays had the best game of his YSU career against Lock Haven rushing for 226 yards on 21 carries and scoring one touchdown. Mays, whose previous best was 127 against Cal Poly, eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the third time in his 13-game Penguin career. His 226-yard total was the sixth best in school history and the first time over 200 by a Penguin back since Jake Andreadis ran for 210 yards against Wingate on Oct. 21, 1995.
Best Single-Game Rushing Efforts
Yards Player vs. Opponent, Date (carries)
304 Dick Adipotti vs. Southern Connecticut, 10/22/1966 (24)
264 Robby Robson vs. Delaware, 11/10/1979 (30)
251 Frank Horvath vs. Gustavus-Adolphus, 11/10/60 or 11/9/1961 (24)
246 Tamron Smith vs. Samford, 12/14/1991 (46)
227 Paris Wicks vs. Morehead State, 11/24/1981 (24)
226 P.J. Mays vs. Lock Haven, 8/31/2001 (21)
Looking to Create, Not Make, Turnovers
In the first game of the season against Lock Haven, the Penguins uncharacteristically turned the ball over five times. The five turnovers committed were the most in a game since Sept. 14, 1991 against Delaware State when YSU Athletic Director Ron Strollo was a tight end. In their last two home games -- against Southern Illinois in 2000 and against Lock Haven last week -- the Penguins have committed nine turnovers.
Last season, Youngstown State had a turnover margin of plus-13 making it the 12th straight season the Penguins have come out on the positive side of the turnover margin. In 15 of the last 16 years (all but 1989), Youngstown State has had a plus in the turnover margin department. The Penguins finished tied for fifth in the nation forcing 1.45 turnovers per game (31 in 11 contests).