YSU Returns to the Gridiron Against Western Illinois

After a Saturday off following the tragic events of last Tuesday's terrorist attacks in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania, the Youngstown State football team returns to action on Saturday night against Western Illinois. The Penguins were scheduled to play at Toledo on Saturday, Sept. 15 before the game against the Rockets was called off late last week.

Now, third-ranked Youngstown State (2-0 overall and 0-0 in the Gateway) is back on the football field for a Top Ten -- and key Gateway Football Conference -- matchup with No. 6/7 Western Illinois (1-0 and 1-0) on Saturday night at 7 at Stambaugh Stadium. The cancellation of the Toledo game leaves the Penguins with 10 regular-season games for the first time since the 1979 season and puts added importance on the final eight games of the year for a run at the playoffs.

Western Illinois has not played since a victory over preseason league favorite Western Kentucky on August 30 -- 23 days ago come gameday. But the Leathernecks have been a thorn in the side of the Penguins of late winning four of the last five meetings and three of four in Gateway play.

Three times the Penguins have entered a game against Western Illinois with a perfect record and all three times they have lost. YSU was 6-0 last season before losing 24-10, 3-0 in 1998 before losing 14-0 and 2-0 in 1975 before losing 20-19. But the Penguins are 4-0 all-time in Gateway Football Conference league openers since joining the league in 1997.

With the Toledo game called off, the Penguins will play their first three games at home for the first time in school history. YSU opened the year with a 38-7 win over Lock Haven and in its last game beat Clarion 44-0. The Penguins have won 10 of their last 11 home games.

Last Game Recap: Penguins 44, Golden Eagles 0
The Youngstown State football team had one of its best rushing performances in school history gaining 451 yards on the ground en route to a 44-0 victory over Clarion on Saturday, Sept. 8. The 451 yards is the second-most yards rushing in a game in school history while the 541 yards of total offense the Penguins racked up was the sixth-best output ever. YSU scored on its first play when P.J. Mays ran 77 yards for a touchdown 23 seconds into the game. Later in the quarter, after a 48-yard touchdown pass from Jeff Ryan to Jerald Burley, Mays set a stadium record with an 83-yard run for a score. In the second quarter, Bruce Hightower returned a fumble six yards for a score. Darius Peterson scored on a 27-yard run and Jake Stewart kicked a 24-yard field goal to give YSU a 37-0 halftime lead. Peterson added a 41-yard touchdown run in the third to close out the scoring.
Game Notes: YSU scored 82 points in its first two games -- the second most in school history behind 90 points scored in the first two games of the 1992 season. Hightower had the seventh interception of his career. It was YSU's first shutout since Sept. 9, 2000 against Edinboro. For the fifth time in six seasons the Penguins are 2-0 to start the season. Mays' 83-yard run was the third longest in school history and the longest since an 81-yard run by Paris Wicks in 1981. It was the first time since Sept. 18, 1993 against Morgan State that YSU had more than 400 yards rushing in a game. The Penguins had two 100-plus rushers in a game for the first time since Sept. 7, 1997 against Kent.

Western Illinois Leathernecks Scouting Report
The Western Illinois football team will have played one game in the last 23 days when they visit Stambaugh Stadium on Saturday night. But that was a key Gateway Football Conference victory over Western Kentucky on August 30. With that win, the Leathernecks have won five of their last six against Top Five Division I-AA teams, three of those victories have come against YSU.
On offense, WIU used a balanced attack with 161 yards passing, 141 yards rushing in the win over the Hilltoppers. Quarterback Sam Clemons completed 5-of-9 passes for 140 yards while Carlos Daniels rushed for 103 yards in his Leatherneck debut.
The Western Illinois defense allowed 302 yards to Western Kentucky, 287 of which came on the ground. The Hilltoppers completed just 2-of-9 passes for 15 yards.
Last season, WIU won the Gateway Football Conference championship finishing 5-1 in the league.

The Western Illinois-YSU Series
This is the 17th meeting between the Leathernecks and the Penguins. WIU has had the advantage in the series as of late winning four of the last five. The Penguins had a solid run winning six straight at one point after Western Illinois won the first four meetings. Last season, the second-ranked Penguins lost 24-10 in Macomb to the No. 6/7 Leathernecks. YSU trailed 17-7 at halftime and was down 17-10 in the fourth when Ryle Irish picked off a Jeff Ryan pass and returned it 44 yards for a touchdown to seal the outcome.

WIU-YSU Connections
• YSU Head Coach Jon Heacock and WIU Head Coach Don Patterson squared off twice as coordinators in the Big Ten. Heacock was the defensive coordinator at Indiana while Patterson was the offensive coordinator at Iowa during the 1997 and 1998 seasons.
• YSU linebackers coach Todd Murgatroyd and WIU defensive backs coach Aaron Alford were on the same staff at Kent State.
• High School Connections: YSU wide receiver Philip Larmon and WIU tight end J.R. Nikols are both from Worthington, Ohio, and both attended Worthington High School. YSU reserve freshman quarterback Aaron Marshall is the only Penguin with ties to Illinois. Marshall went to high school at Mount Carmel, just outside of Chicago.

Mays Ranks No. 2 Nationally in Rushing
Junior tailback P.J. Mays is ranked second in Division I-AA averaging 203 yards per game. Mays is behind Iona's Rob Terry who is averaging 219 yards per contest. YSU's Darius Peterson is 57th in the nation at 81 yards per game. Mays ranks sixth in all-purpose rushing yards, 35th in scoring and 37th in total offense. Peterson is 12th in scoring (12 points per game) and 93rd in all-purpose yards. YSU punter Kosta Karapetsas has been impressive averaging 40.8 yards per boot to rank 25th in the nation. Strong safety Bruce Hightower is seventh in the country averaging one interception per game.

Penguins in Top Five in Four National Categories
The Youngstown State football team ranks in the top 10 in Division I-AA in four categories entering the contest against Toledo. YSU is third in rushing offense (393.5 per game), fourth in total offense (495.5), second in scoring defense (3.5 points per game) and second in kickoff returns (42 yards per return). YSU is eighth in scoring offense (41 points per game), 99th in passing offense (102 per game), 47th in rushing defense (119 per game), 12th in pass defense (97.5) 14th in Passing Efficiency Defense (71.71), 15th in total defense (216.5 per game), 33rd in net punting (35.9 per kick) and 39th in punt returns (11.5).

Penguins in the Gateway Conference Rankings
YSU is first in the Gateway in scoring offense, scoring defense, kickoff returns, rushing offense, total offense and first downs. The Penguins are second in pass defense, total defense, passing efficiency and passing efficiency defense. Other rankings: Sixth in passing offense, fourth in punting, third in turnover margin, fourth in rushing defense and third in punt returns.

YSU Players Against Western Illinois
• Jeff Ryan: 3 games, 38 rushes for 59 yards and one touchdown. Completed 32-of-53 passes (61 percent) for 432 yards, with four interceptions and three touchdowns. Best game was in 1998 when he completed 12-of-18 passes for 227 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. Last season at Macomb, Ill., was 9-of-17 for 103 yards with one interception.
• Andre Coleman: In three games, Coleman has returned four kickoffs for 59 yards (14.8 average).
• John Schumacher: In two games, has caught five passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns.
• Josiah Doby: In two games, has 17 carries for 50 yards.
• P.J. Mays: Had 20 carries for 117 yards last season and one touchdown run.
• Eugene Mintze: Had five catches for 40 yards last season.
• Jake Stewart: Kicked a 28-yard field goal in last year's contest.
• Bruce Hightower: In two games, has 10 tackles and two pass breakups.
• LeVar Greene: In three games, has seven tackles and one interception (2000).
• Matt Mechling: In two games, has seven tackles.
• Players with tackles in last season's game: Jon Tekac (5), Anthony Barone (5), Martin Stachowicz (4), Justin Dellarose (4), Mike Thomas (2), Bob Sivik (2), Russell Stuvaints (1), Antulio Aroche (1), Todd Blackwell (1) and Ken Baun (1).

Penguins Turning in The Big Plays
The Penguins have had a knack to create big plays in the first two games of the season. Against Lock Haven, YSU had five plays of 25 yards or more and against Clarion the Penguins had six plays of 25 yards or longer. 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.

Longest Kickoff Returns
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

Longest Runs
1. 88, Marschell Brumfield vs. Northern Iowa 9/19/1978
2. 87, Dick Adipotti vs. Southern Connecticut State 10/22/1966
3. 83, P.J. Mays vs. Clarion 9/8/2001

Coleman Moves from Offense to Defense
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.

Peterson Bursts on the Scene in First Two Games
Sophomore Darius Peterson has been a pleasant surprise for YSU already this year and has made a big impact in his first two games. Peterson, who is ranked 12th in the nation in scoring (12 points per game), has scored three rushing touchdowns and returned a blocked punt for a touchdown.
Against Clarion, he scored on runs of 27 and 41 yards en route to a 111-yard performance on 12 carries. It was the first 100-yard game of his young career. He also had two tackles and was named the Penguins' Offensive Player of the Game.
Peterson, a backup tailback, scored his first-career touchdown on a four-yard run against Lock Haven in the season opener. In the third quarter, he blocked a Joe Walker punt and returned it 36 yards for a touchdown. Peterson 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, will leave the program with his name all over the offensive-category part of the record books. He has started 33 games in his career and owns a 23-10 record as a starter. He is 20-6 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 Puts Forth Best Effort in Two Games
Junior tailback P.J. Mays has been outstanding in his two games this season rushing for 406 yards on 30 carries. In his two-year YSU career (14 games), Mays has rushed for 1,187 yards. Last Saturday 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. 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)
253 Frank Horvath vs. Gustavus-Adolphus, 11/10/60 (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)

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.

Turnover Margin Now on Youngstown State's Side
After a turnover filled first game against Lock Haven, the Penguins turned the tables on Clarion in the second game. YSU forced six turnovers, but still committed two itself. In the opener against the Bald Eagles, the Penguins turned the ball over five times and had a minus-3 turnover margin. YSU stands at a plus-1 turnover margin after two games.
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).

League Schedule Changes After Postponements
The league schedule has been altered after the events that canceled six of seven Gateway Football Conference games on Saturday. Southwest Missouri State's game at Southeast Missouri State was played -- one of only four I-AA games in the country that were played last week. Western Kentucky will now play Wisconsin on Sept. 29 and WKU will play at Illinois State on Nov. 3. Western Illinois will play at Indiana State on Nov. 17. That contest was scheduled for Saturday night in Terre Haute, Ind. Northern Iowa's game at Stephen F. Austin was canceled. Illinois State will play host to SW Texas State on Sept. 29. YSU and Southern Illinois also had contests postponed.

Penguins Are Perfect In Four Gateway Openers
The Youngstown State football team is perfect in four Gateway Football Conference openers entering the league opener on Saturday against Western Illinois.
Last season, the Penguins won 19-13 at Southwest Missouri State, in 1999 they defeated Western Illinois 28-24. In 1998, YSU beat Indiana State 20-14 and in 1997, the inaugural league game in school history, Youngstown State won 31-0 at Indiana State. The 20-14 win over Indiana State in 1998 and the 28-24 win over Western Illinois in 1999 were both at Stambaugh Stadium. In their first home league game each of the last four seasons, the Penguins are also 4-0.

Up Next: YSU Plays at Northern Iowa
The Penguins are scheduled to play at Northern Iowa on Sept. 29 for their first league road game, and regular-season road game of the year. It will also be the first road game for YSU Head Coach Jon Heacock.
Youngstown State has won the last two meetings against the Panthers winning 28-24 at Stambaugh Stadium last season and winning in Cedar Falls, Iowa, 29-20 in 1999. All-time at Northern Iowa, the Penguins are 2-5. Youngstown State remains on the road playing at Indiana State on Oct. 6 before returning home for three straight home games beginning Oct. 13. YSU has beaten the Sycamores in nine of 10 all-time meetings.