The Youngstown State football team goes for its 100th win at Stambaugh Stadium on Saturday when the Penguins play host to Southwest Missouri State. Kickoff for the Gateway Football Conference matchup is set for 4 p.m.
YSU (4-1 overall and 2-1 in the Gateway) will be looking to remain in the conference title hunt while SMS (2-3 and 0-2) is going for its first league win of the season. With one victory, SMS Coach Randy Ball will own the conference record for Gateway games won. He has won more overall games than any coach in the league's 17-year history having coached at Western Illinois and now with SMS.
The No. 5/5 Penguins earned their fourth win, and first road victory, of the season on Saturday, Oct. 6 at Indiana State. YSU defeated the Sycamores 35-21 behind four touchdown runs by junior tailback P.J. Mays. Mays' four-touchdown effort was the first time since 1992 that a Penguin had four scores in a game. He rushed for 150 yards on 34 carries as YSU finished the game with 261 yards rushing and 355 total yards. In the contest, YSU quarterback Jeff Ryan had 169 total yards to set the school record for career total offensive yardage. Ryan has accounted for 7,094 yards in his four years as the Penguins' signal-caller.
The Bears opened the year winning two of three games, but have dropped consecutive Gateway contests to Western Kentucky and Northern Iowa. Last Saturday, SMS lost 27-3 to Northern Iowa in Springfield, Mo. SMS is 1-2 on the road this year, while the Penguins are 3-0 at home.
Against the Bears, YSU has had success winning all five meetings between the schools. However, of those five contests, four have been decided by a touchdown or less, including last year's 19-13 Penguin victory. YSU has won 11 of its last 12 games at Stambaugh Stadium.
Youngstown State: Jon Heacock (Muskingum, 1983) is in his first year as the Penguins' head coach. He owns a 4-1 record through his first five games. Heacock was hired on Jan. 25, 2001 to take over for 15-year YSU Coach Jim Tressel. Heacock is no stranger to the Youngstown State program having been an assistant coach at YSU for seven seasons since 1990. In 2000 and from 1992 through 1996 he was the Penguins' defensive coordinator. He was the defensive coordinator at Indiana from 1997 through 1999 before returning to YSU prior to last season.
SMS: Randy Ball (Truman State, 1973) is in his third season as the head coach at SMS and owns a 12-15 mark. Prior to taking over the Bears' program he was the head coach at Western Illinois for nine seasons. In his 12th year as a head coach he owns a 73-56-1 record and is 2-2 in four meetings against Youngstown State.
Last Game Recap: Penguins 35, Sycamores 21
The Youngstown State football team used four rushing touchdowns by P.J. Mays to beat Indiana State 35-21 last Saturday in Terre Haute, Ind. Mays had 150 yards rushing on 34 carries and had touchdown runs of one, two, six and one yard. The Penguins jumped out to a 21-0 lead scoring on their first four possessions. At halftime, Indiana State trailed 21-7, but Mays added his fourth score of the contest to put YSU in front 28-7. After an ISU touchdown pass from Julian Reese to Chris Lewis pulled the Sycamores within 28-14, the YSU defense held them off twice deep in Penguin territory. Darius Peterson raced 24 yards for a touchdown on his first carry of the game before ISU's Sidney Montfort scored on a 13-yard run. After recovering the onsides kick, Youngstown State ran out the final 4:27 of the game to earn Coach Jon Heacock's first road win.
Game Notes: Quarterback Jeff Ryan set the school record for career total offense in the first quarter. Ryan finished the game with 169 yards and now has 7,094 in his career. YSU improved to 10-1 all-time against the Sycamores and 6-0 at Memorial Stadium in Terre Haute. YSU punter Kosta Karapetsas had a career-long 54-yard punt. Mays became just the ninth player in school history to score four-or-more touchdowns in a game. He is the first since Tamron Smith had four scores against James Madison on Sept. 26, 1992. Mays' 34 carries tied for the fifth-best single-game total in school history with Jerry Mapes and Tamron Smith. The last time a YSU back had over 30 rushes in a game was Adrian Brown against SMS on Nov. 6, 1999. Mays has five 100-yard games in his career and seven multi-touchdown games. The YSU defense had 10 tackles for 40 yards in losses.
Southwest Missouri State Bears Scouting Report
The Southwest Missouri State football team is coming off a 27-3 loss to Northern Iowa last Saturday and has lost two straight after opening the year with a 2-1 mark. Against the Panthers, SMS trailed 17-0 before getting on the scoreboard on a 28-yard field goal by Brian Long. The Bears own victories over Midwestern State (in a game that was called in the third quarter because of lightning) and at SE Missouri State.
On offense, SMS is averaging 291 yards and almost 16 points per game while its defense is allowing 363.4 yards and 21.6 points per contest. Quarterback Austin Moherman, a transfer from Ohio State, leads the offense completing 56-of-114 passes for 629 yards and one touchdown. The Bears have been opportunistic in the turnover department forcing 15 turnovers in five games. SMS has a turnover margin of plus-7. Linebacker P.J. Jones leads the team with 61 tackles, including 28 solo stops. The Bears have four players with more than 40 tackles on the season.
The SMS-Youngstown State Series
This is the sixth meeting between the Penguins and the Bears and in all five contests, YSU has come out a winner. Four of the five contests have been decided by a touchdown or less with the only decisive YSU victory coming in 1997 (45-13). In the series, YSU is 3-0 at Springfield, Mo., and 2-0 at Stambaugh Stadium with wins in 1997 and 1999.
Last season, the Penguins held off a late SMS rally to hold on for a 19-13 victory in the Gateway Conference opener for both teams. YSU led 19-10 in the fourth quarter, before a Brian Long field goal trimmed the SMS deficit to 19-13. The Penguins appeared to pick up a game-sealing first down, but John Schumacher fumbled at the SMS with 1:38 left. With one timeout, the Bears moved down the field and had first and goal at the YSU five with 15 seconds left. YSU's Montrial Thomas sacked Austin Moherman to end the game.
Preview: Saturday's Gateway Action
For the first time in league history, all eight Gateway Football Conference members will be in action against one another on Saturday. While YSU is playing host to SMS, Western Illinois plays at Illinois State, Western Kentucky travels to Indiana State and Southern Illinois plays at Northern Iowa. SMS, Indiana State and Illinois State are all winless in the Gateway this season.
Individual Penguins in National Rankings
Senior cornerback LeVar Greene ranks third in the nation averaging 0.8 interceptions per game. Greene has intercepted a pass in three of the past four contests. Senior strong safety Bruce Hightower is 25th in the nation averaging 0.6 INTs per game. Junior tailback P.J. Mays moved up to 13th in the nation in rushing averaging 130.4 yards per contest and is seventh in the nation in scoring averaging 12 points per game. Mays scored 24 points against Indiana State last Saturday. Sophomore placekicker Jake Stewart is 64th with 0.6 field goals per game and is 80th in scoring averaging six points a contest. Punter Kosta Karapetsas ranks 51st in the country averaging 37.6 yards per punt. Reserve tailback Darius Peterson is 80th in scoring averaging six points per game and senior quarterback Jeff Ryan is 82nd in total offensive yards per game at 143.60.
YSU in the National Categories
The Youngstown State football team ranks in the top 10 in Division I-AA in three categories entering the contest against Southwest Missouri State. YSU is fourth in the nation in kickoff returns (29.45 per game), sixth in scoring defense (13 points per game), seventh in rushing offense (282.8 yards), 19th in scoring offense (33.8 points), 19th in pass defense (144.6 yards), 20th in passing efficiency defense (95.63), 22nd in punt returns (14.2), 24th in total defense (280.2 yards), 34th in total offense (394.0 yards), 43rd in net punting (33.65 per kick) and 110th in passing offense (111.2).
Penguins in the Gateway Conference Rankings
YSU is first in the Gateway in scoring offense, kickoff returns, total offense, punt returns and passing efficiency defense. The Penguins are second in scoring defense, turnover margin, rushing offense, total defense and passing efficiency. Other rankings: Sixth in passing offense, fourth in passing defense, third in punting, third in rushing defense, third in first downs and fourth in time of possession. Individuals: P.J. Mays -- first in rushing, all-purpose yards, scoring. Jake Stewart -- fifth in scoring, first in field-goal percentage. LeVar Greene -- first in interceptions. Jeff Ryan -- fourth in total offense, seventh in passing. Jerald Burley -- first in punt returns.
YSU Players Against Southwest Missouri State
• Jeff Ryan: 3 games, 28 rushes for 58 yards...completed 20-of-32 passes (62.5 percent) for 260 yards and one touchdown, with one interception. Last season, he was 9-of-15 for 128 yards and had 12 rushes for 29 yards. He injured his wrist on the first play of the fourth quarter.
• Andre Coleman: In two games, Coleman has returned four kickoffs for 80 yards.
• John Schumacher: In two games, has caught three passes for 78 yards.
• Josiah Doby: Last year had 28 yards on two carries.
• P.J. Mays: Had 68 yards and one touchdown in last year's game.
• Eugene Mintze: Had one catch for six yards last season.
• Jake Stewart: Kicked 42 and 38 yard field goals...made 1-of-2 extra points.
• Sean Guerriero: In three games has one catch for 16 yards.
• Dennis Dlugosz: In one game, two catches for 18 yards.
• Jerald Burley: In one game, had two catches for 14 yards.
• Anthony Barone: In one game, had a punt return for two yards and four tackles.
• Defense: Bruce Hightower - 2 games, 13 tackles, 1 INT returned 25 yards (1999); LeVar Greene - 3 games, 11 tackles; Matt Mechling - 2 games, eight tackles; Mike Thomas - 3 games, one tackles; Jon Tekac - 2 games, 10 tackles, one tackle for loss; Justin Dellarose - 1 game, 13 tackles; Martin Stachowicz - 1 game, three tackles; Bob Sivik - 1 game, four tackles; Russell Stuvaints - 1 game, two tackles; Guy Mazard - 1 game, one tackle
YSU Will Go For 100th Stambaugh Stadium Win
In their 20th campaign at Stambaugh Stadium the Youngstown State football team will be trying to win its 100th game in the facility on Oct. 13 against Southwest Missouri State. In its 20th season at Stambaugh, which opened in 1982, the Penguins are 99-30-2 (a .763 winning percentage). YSU has won 10 of its last 11 home games.
Since the 1989 season, YSU is an impressive 75-15-1, including undefeated seasons in 1993 and 1994. The Penguins are 30-6 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.
Turnovers Critical in Drive for Success
During Saturday's Youngstown State-Indiana State game the two teams combined for three turnovers and each time the opposition answered with a touchdown -- two by YSU, one by ISU.
The Penguins have forced 18 turnovers this season and have scored off 11 of them for a total of 65 points (61.1 percent). YSU has turned the ball over 14 times and allowed four touchdowns off of its miscues. YSU had a season-low one turnover against Indiana State while the Sycamores had two giveaways. Dating back to last season, the Penguins have had a turnover in six straight games.
In 15 of the last 16 years (all but 1989), including 12 straight years, Youngstown State has had a plus in the turnover margin department. Entering the contest against SMS, which has a plus-7 turnover margin, YSU has a plus-4 turnover advantage.
YSU and First-Year Head Coaches
Jon Heacock is the only coach of five in school history to win his first three games. The only other coach to win his debut was Bill Narduzzi in 1975.
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. 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.
Penguins Turning in The Big Plays
The Penguins have had a knack to create big plays in the first five games of the season. Against Lock Haven, YSU had five plays of 25 yards or more, against Clarion the Penguins had six plays of 25 yards or longer and against Western Illinois, the Penguins had four plays of 25-plus yards. Against Northern Iowa and Indiana State, YSU had a season-low two plays of more than 25 yards.
In the opener against Lock Haven, Andre Coleman returned a kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown. That was the fourth-longest return in school history. Against Clarion, P.J. Mays scored on an 83-yard run, that was the longest run in Stambaugh Stadium history, the first 80-yard-plus run since 1981 and the third-longest run in school history.
This year the Penguins have three plays over 70 yards in just two games. Last season, the longest YSU gain was a 64-yard run by Josiah Doby against Indiana State.
Greene Named to Buck Buchanan Watch List
Senior defensive back LeVar Greene had his name added as one of 16 players on the Buck Buchanan Battle list. The Buck Buchanan Award honors the nation's top Division I-AA Defensive player. Last year, YSU's Tim Johnson finished third in the voting.
Here is a list of the 16 candidates after revisions were made to the list on Oct. 3: D.J. Bleisath, DE, Tennessee Tech; Will Bouton, LB, Furman; Abdul Byron, S, Lehigh; Keith Davis, S, Sam Houston State; LeVar Greene, CB, Youngstown State; Isaiah Greer, DB, Rhode Island; T.J. Hill, S, Northeastern; Vince Huntsberger, S, Montana; Josh Jeffries, DE, Appalachian State; Derrick Lloyd, LB, James Madison; Robert Mathis, DE, Alabama A&M; Freddy Pesqueira, DT, Georgia Southern; Doug Shanahan, S, Hofstra; Bobby Sippio, CB, Western Kentucky; Travis Stephens, LB, The Citadel; Tracy White, LB, Howard.
Jeff Ryan Becomes All-Time Total Yardage Leader
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, will leave the program with his name all over the offensive-category part of the record books. He has started 36 games in his career and owns a 25-11 record as a starter. He is 22-7 as a starter since the 1999 season. He has rallied Youngstown State from behind to victory 13 times, including four times last season. Against Indiana State last Saturday he became the school's all-time leader in total yardage with 7,094 yards.
Stewart Perfect on Field Goals
Sophomore placekicker Jake Stewart is a perfect 3-of-3 on field-goal attempts this season, including a career-long 49 yarder against Northern Iowa on Sept. 29. Stewart kicked a 42-yard field goal in the season opener against Lock Haven and hit on a 24-yard kick against Clarion.
YSU's opponents have struggled making just 1-of-4 field-goal tries against the Penguins.
Dating back to last season, Stewart has made four straight field goals. He is 20-of-21 on extra-point attempts this season.
Mays Over 1,000 Yards Rushing in Career
Junior tailback P.J. Mays has eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in his YSU career. In his 17-game career, Mays has rushed for 1,433 yards on 281 carries and he has scored 19 touchdowns. He had a career-best 34 carries for 150 yards and four touchdowns against Indiana State. Against Western Illinois he rushed for two scores and took a shovel pass 50 yards for a third touchdown. It marked the fifth time in his career that he has scored two rushing touchdowns in a game -- also the fifth time in eight games where he has scored twice via the ground. His touchdown catch was the first touchdown reception of his YSU career. Against Clarion he rushed for 180 yards on nine carries. His 20-yards-per-carry average set a school record for yards per attempt in a 100-yard game. In the opener, he had the best game of his YSU career against Lock Haven rushing for 226 yards on 21 carries and scoring one touchdown. 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.
Touchdowns In a Single Game
1. 5, Paris Wicks vs. Northern Iowa 11/21/1981
2. 4, P.J. Mays vs. Indiana State 10/06/2001
2. 4, Tamron Smith vs. James Madison 9/26/1992
2. 4, Tamron Smith vs. Delaware State 9/12/1992
2. 4, Robby Robson vs. South Dakota State 11/24/1979
2. 4, Robby Robson vs. Eastern Illinois 11/3/1979
2. 4, Robby Robson vs. Villanova 10/6/1979
2. 4, Jim Ferranti vs. Central State 10/14/1978
2. 4, Marschell Brumfield vs. Northern Iowa 9/9/1978
2. 4, Dave DelSignore vs. Western Illinois 9/20/1969
2. 4, Dick Adipotti vs. Southern Connecticut 10/22/1966
2. 4, Frank Horvath vs. Gustavus Adolphus 11/9/1961
Coaches Game Day Assignments
Last Saturday against Indiana State, YSU assistant coach George Small moved from the coaches booth in the press box down to the sideline joining defensive coordinator Pete Rekstis and defensive line coach Bob Stoops. Offensively, wide receivers coach Trent Boykin and quarterbacks coach Brian Wright are the on-field coaches. Up in the coaches booth on gameday are offensive coordinator John Klacik, assistant head coach/running backs coach Sam Eddy, linebackers coach Todd Murgatroyd and defensive graduate assistant Don Houser.
Nine Players Remain From 1997 Title Team
Nine members of the 1997 championship team remain part of the 2001 Penguin football team. This season, all nine players have key roles on the squad. 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 Tesniarz, 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 left the squad and 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.
Penguins Advanced to Playoffs Again in 2000
Youngstown State finished the 2000 football season with a 9-3 overall mark and advanced to the NCAA Division I-AA Playoffs for the 10th time in the past 14 years. In the playoffs, the Penguins were seeded ninth and lost at No. 8 Richmond 10-3 on a cold, rainy Nov. 25 day.
The Penguins began the year 6-0 and climbed as high as No. 2 in the national rankings, but went 3-3 in their final six games of the season to finish 9-3 and were ranked 11th in the final Sports Network Top 25 Poll. In Gateway Football Conference play, the Penguins finished tied for second with a 4-2 mark.
Penguins Will Play Elon, Marshall in November
Late last week the Youngstown State Athletic Department announced two changes in the remaining YSU football schedule for this regular season. YSU was scheduled to play Wofford on Nov. 17, but that contest has been canceled and instead, the Penguins will play host to Elon University. Wofford will now play East Tennessee State on Nov. 17 and is at South Carolina on Nov. 3.
The game against Marshall has been scheduled for Nov. 24 at Marshall Stadium in Huntington, W. Va. It will be the first meeting between the two schools since playing for the Division I-AA National Championship in 1991, 1992 and 1993. Two of those meetings were played at Marshall. Since that game, the Herd has moved on to have success at the Division I-A level and is a member of the Mid-American Conference.
Up Next: YSU Plays Homecoming Game Against Redbirds
The Penguins play the second contest of a three-game homestand against Illinois State on Saturday, Oct. 20 at Stambaugh Stadium. The game against the Redbirds is YSU's Homecoming contest. Also before the game, eight new members will be inducted into the YSU Athletics Hall of Fame. Youngstown State concludes its three-game homestand with a key Gateway Conference battle against Western Kentucky on Oct. 27.
Against Illinois State, the Penguins have split four contests since joining the Gateway Football Conference in 1997. YSU won 14-12 last year in Normal, but trails the overall series 5-4.
All-time in Homecoming contests, the Penguins are 45-14-1. YSU has won nine straight homecoming contests and has won 13 of its last 14 with the only defeat coming against Liberty in 1991.