For the first time this season the Youngstown State football team will be on the road when the Penguins travel to the UNI Dome in Cedar Falls, Iowa, to play Northern Iowa. Kickoff for the contest is set for 5:05 p.m. Eastern time. YSU's first scheduled road game was scheduled against Toledo but that game set for Sept. 15 was canceled.
The second/third-ranked Penguins are 3-0 for the second straight season and are headed to No. 24 Northern Iowa with three big home wins under their belt. The biggest came last Saturday defeating Western Illinois 41-7 in the Gateway Football Conference opener. The 34-point margin was the largest YSU win over WIU ever. It was the Leathernecks' worst conference loss since 1990.
Northern Iowa (2-1, 0-0) is coming off a dramatic 42-39 victory at Mid-American Conference foe Ball State. The game was scheduled on Monday after the Panthers and Cardinals had off weeks for Sept. 22. Mackenzie Hoambrecker made a 33-yard field goal as time expired to give UNI its second victory of the year. Northern Iowa defeated Wayne (Mich.) State and lost to Iowa State.
In seven trips to Cedar Falls, YSU has won three times. One of those victories came on its last visit in 1999. YSU won 29-20 scoring the games final 10 points. YSU won 28-24 last season scoring a touchdown in the final two minutes. UNI had won nine of 13 games in the series before the Penguins won the last two meetings.
Youngstown State took advantage of its first three-game homestand to open a season in school history. YSU has outscored its three opponents 123-14, an average score of 41-5 per game. The Penguins have been dominating in the first half of games outscoring their three foes 72-0. In 12 quarters of football this season, YSU has allowed just two touchdowns while scoring 17.
Last Game Recap: Penguins 41, Western Illinois 7
The Youngstown State football team opened Gateway Football Conference play with a 41-7 win over Western Illinois on Saturday, Sept. 22. The 34-point margin of victory was the largest for YSU over the Leathernecks in the 17 meetings between the two schools. P.J. Mays scored three touchdowns in the first half to give YSU a 21-0 halftime lead. Mays scored on a six-yard run in the first quarter. That score was set up when Antulio Aroche blocked a Mike Scifres punt that gave YSU the ball at the WIU six. Late in the second quarter the Penguins scored two touchdowns in 63 seconds. Mays took a shovel pass from Jeff Ryan and used some nifty moves to score from 50 yards out. LeVar Greene picked off a Sam Clemons pass and returned it to the six to set up a two-yard touchdown run by Mays. In the second half, Ryan scored on a 12-yard run and Greene returned an interception 23 yards for a touchdown. YSU answered WIU's only touchdown with a 48-yard option keeper by Colby Street.
Game Notes: YSU scored 123 points in its first three games -- a school record. YSU did not allow a touchdown for eight quarters before allowing a touchdown in the fourth quarter. YSU is 3-0 for the second straight season and for the third time in the last four seasons. Jon Heacock became the first head coach in school history to win his first three games. Mays tied his career high with two rushing touchdowns, the fifth time in 15 games he had two rushing scores. LeVar Greene had two interceptions in a game for the second time in his YSU career. His interception return for a touchdown was the first for a YSU player since Sept. 6, 1997 (54 games). The crowd of 19,333 set a stadium and conference record for a game played in the month of September.
Northern Iowa Panthers Scouting Report
The Northern Iowa football team is coming off a thrilling last-second victory at Ball State last Saturday. The Panthers and Cardinals battled back and forth the entire contest before Mackenzie Hoambrecker kicked a 33-yard field goal as time expired for a 42-39 victory.
On offense, the Panthers are averaging 350 yards per game, but the defense is allowing 367 yards per contest. Tom Petrie has replaced Ryan Helming as UNI's quarterback and in three games has thrown six interceptions and four touchdown passes. Jake Soliday leads the team with 12 receptions for 245 yards and three touchdowns. Adam Benge is the top rusher averaging 69.3 yards per game and has 208 yards on 40 carries.
Since losing to YSU at home in 1998, the Panthers have won eight of nine home games.
The Northern Iowa-YSU Series
This is the 16th meeting between the Panthers and the Penguins. YSU has won the last two meetings including a thrilling 28-24 victory last year in front of the largest crowd in Stambaugh Stadium history. YSU has won two in a row after losing seven of eight and nine of 11 since winning the first two contests. The team that has scored first in the last three meetings has lost the game.
Last season, YSU trailed 24-21 when Jeff Ryan threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to a diving Dennis Dlugosz on a third down-and-10 play with 1:17 remaining. On their final possession, Ryan Helming was sacked by Ed Blizzard, threw two incomplete passes and then was sacked by Jon Tekac to end the game.
• Seven players on the Northern Iowa roster are from Ohio.
• UNI Head Coach Mark Farley played against the Penguins in 1983, 1984 and 1985. YSU's Trent Boykin played against the Panthers in 1990 and Pete Rekstis played against Northern Iowa in 1987.
• High School Connections: YSU defensive tackle Matt Mechling and Northern Iowa's Kyle Fromholtz went to school together at North Canton Hoover High School.
Greene Earns National/Conference Accolades
Senior cornerback LeVar Greene kept the Penguins three-week streak of having a player chosen as a Gateway Football Conference Player of the Week and took it a step further earning National Defensive Player-of-the-Week honors by The Sports Network. Against Western Illinois, Greene had two interceptions, returning one 23 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter and another 36 yards in the second quarter to set up a touchdown. He had three solo tackles and two pass breakups.
Mays Ranks No. 3 Nationally in Rushing
Junior tailback P.J. Mays slipped to third in the nation in rushing following a 57-yard effort against Western Illinois on Saturday. He is averaging 154.3 yards per game behind New Hampshire's Stephan Lewis (173.3) and Eastern Kentucky's C.J. Hudson (166.7). While Mays dropped one spot in the nation's rushing stands he moved up to 11th in scoring averaging 12 points per game. Other rankings: Mays 13th in all-purpose rushing (171 per game) and 72nd in total offense (154.3), LeVar Greene sixth in interceptions (1.00 per game), Bruce Hightower 37th in interceptions (.67 per contest), Eugene Mintze 67th in punt returns (7.00 per return), Jake Stewart 52nd in field goals per game (.67), Darius Peterson 40th in scoring (8 per game) and Stewart 63rd in scoring (7 per game).
YSU in the National Categories
The Youngstown State football team ranks in the top 10 in Division I-AA in four categories entering the contest against Northern Iowa. YSU is first in the nation in kickoff returns (43.75 per game), third in scoring defense (4.67 points per game), fifth in rushing offense (324.67 yards), ninth in scoring offense (41 points), 17th in total defense (250.7 yards), 19th in total offense (417.0 yards), 24th in net punting (36.5 per kick), 29th in punt returns (13.9), 35th in pass defense (161 yards), 47th in passing efficiency defense and 116th in passing offense (92.33).
Penguins in the Gateway Conference Rankings
YSU is first in the Gateway in scoring offense, scoring defense, kickoff returns and rushing defense. The Penguins are second in punting, rushing offense, total offense, total defense, punt returns and passing efficiency defense. Other rankings: Seventh in passing offense, third in turnover margin, fourth in first downs, fifth in time of possession.
YSU Players Against Northern Iowa
• Jeff Ryan: 3 games, 50 rushes for 159. Completed 35-of-66 passes (53 percent) for 563 yards with four interceptions and four touchdowns. Last season was 11-of-20 for 179 yards with 2 INT and 2 TD.
• Andre Coleman: In three games, Coleman has returned six kickoffs for 165 yards (27.5 avg.). Had two rushes last year for 25 yards and a 25-yard touchdown run.
• John Schumacher: In two games, has caught one pass for 19 yards.
• Josiah Doby: In two games, has 15 carries for 48 yards and a touchdown. He has one reception.
• P.J. Mays: Had 13 carries for 87 yards in last season's game and one catch for three yards.
• Eugene Mintze: Had four catches for 82 yards last year.
• Jake Stewart: Kicked four extra points in last year's game.
• Dennis Dlugosz: In two games has two catches for 45 yards and a 26-yard touchdown.
• Sean Guerriero: In three games has four receptions for 48 yards.
• Defense: Bruce Hightower - 3 games, seven tackles; LeVar Greene - 3 games, nine tackles and a pass breakup; Matt Mechling - 2 games, five tackles; Mike Thomas - 3 games, two tackles; Jon Tekac - 2 games, 10 tackles; Anthony Barone - 2 games, seven tackles, INT; Justin Dellarose - 1 game, four tackles; Guy Mazard - 1 game, two tackles.
YSU Goes 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.
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.
First Score Hasn't Meant Much in Series Lately
The team that has scored first in the last three games between Youngstown State and Northern Iowa has lost the contest. Last year, UNI jumped out to a 7-0 on a 68-yard pass from Ryan Helming to Eddie Berlin. The Penguins rallied to win scoring with 1:17 remaining. In 1999, Northern Iowa led 7-0 on a touchdown run by Adam Benge scored from two yards out. Again YSU came back in the fourth quarter scoring 10 points to win 29-20. In 1998, YSU scored on a Jeff Ryan 23-yard pass to Renauld Ray but after the Penguins took a 14-7 lead, the Panthers scored 35 unanswered points in a 42-14 win.
Turnover Margin Now on Youngstown State's Side
After a turnover filled first game against Lock Haven, the Penguins turned the tables on their past two opponents -- Clarion and Western Illinois. In the past two games, YSU has forced 10 turnovers while giving up the ball three times. YSU has a plus-4 turnover margin after three games despite committing eight turnovers. YSU has been opportunistic in turning turnovers into points. Of the 12 forced turnovers, YSU has scored on eight opportunities for 48 points. Despite turning the ball over eight times, YSU has just allowed one touchdown.
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.
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.
Special Teams Units Step Up for Penguins
The Youngstown State special teams units have made a big impact in the first three games of the 2001 season. Through three games, YSU has blocked two punts, returned a kickoff for a touchdown and leads the nation in kickoff-return yards.
YSU blocked a punt on Saturday against WIU when Antulio Aroche blocked All-American Mike Scifres' first-quarter punt. The first blocked punt came in the season opener when Darius Peterson blocked a Joe Walker punt and returned it 36 yards for a touchdown. Also in the opener, Andre Coleman returned a kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown, the first time in 11 years the Penguins returned a kickoff for a score. YSU had a 22-yard kickoff return against Clarion and a 49-yard return by Jerald Burley against Western Illinois.
The Penguins are ranked first in the nation at 43.75 yards per kickoff return.
Penguins Turning in The Big Plays
The Penguins have had a knack to create big plays in the first three 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.
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.
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.
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, will leave the program with his name all over the offensive-category part of the record books. He has started 34 games in his career and owns a 24-10 record as a starter. He is 21-6 as a starter since the 1999 season. In his career, he has rallied Youngstown State from behind to victory 13 times, including four times last season. (For a complete list of where Ryan stands in YSU's all-time statistical categories please check on page six of this release).
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 15-game career, Mays has rushed for 1,244 yards on 232 carries and he has scored 15 touchdowns -- an average of one per game. 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.
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.
Travel Plans for Northern Iowa Game
The Youngstown State football team will make its trip to Northern Iowa a one-day trip. The Penguins will leave Youngstown the morning of the game flying on a charter from the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport to Waterloo, Iowa, arriving around 11 a.m. Youngstown State will return via charter following the game.
Gateway Teams Scramble to Fill Schedules
Seven of eight teams in the Gateway Football Conference have done some scheduling moves within the past two weeks after all games across the nation -- except for four games, one including league member SW Missouri State -- were canceled on Sept. 15. Northern Iowa added Ball State on Monday of last week and beat the Cardinals in Muncie, Ind., on Saturday. YSU will now play Elon on Nov. 17 instead of Wofford and Marshall fills the spot of YSU's 11th game on Nov. 24. Western Kentucky will now play Wisconsin on Sept. 29 and WKU will play at Illinois State on Nov. 3. WIU will play at Indiana State on Nov. 17 after being scheduled for Sept. 15. Illinois State will play host to SW Texas State on Sept. 29. Southern Illinois has added a game at Baylor on Nov. 24.
The NCAA Division I-AA Playoffs were pushed back a week to allow teams to find an 11th regular-season game. The first round of the playoffs is slated to begin on Dec. 1. The quarterfinals will be Dec. 8, the semifinals are now Dec. 15 and the Championship Game is Friday, Dec. 21 in Chattanooga, Tenn. The championship game was scheduled for Dec. 14.
Up Next: YSU Plays at Indiana State
The Penguins remain on the road to travel to Terre Haute, Ind., for a contest at Gateway Football Conference foe Indiana State on Oct. 6. YSU has beaten the Sycamores in nine of the 10 all-time meetings since the series began in 1988. The Penguins are 5-0 all-time at Memorial Stadium in Terre Haute.
Last season, the Penguins rolled to a 42-7 victory over the Sycamores who enter this weekend with a 1-2 record after a win over Eastern Michigan. YSU returns home for three straight home games beginning Oct. 13.