The No. 12 Youngstown State football team dropped a 27-22 decision on Saturday during Homecoming at Stambaugh Stadium. The Penguins fall to 5-3 overall and 1-2 in the Gateway while the Redbirds improve to 4-4 overall and 2-2 in the Gateway.
Junior Kevin Smith led the Penguins with 68 yards rushing on 19 carries and scored twice.
In the first half the Redbirds scored on a 77-yard touchdown run and a 69-yard pass. A 15-play 97-yard drive in the third quarter put the game out of reach.
Youngstown State jumped out to a 10-0 lead after its first two possessions of the contest.
Smith scored from one-yard out with 11:12 remaining in the first period. YSU took the opening kickoff moving 58 yards in nine plays to open the scoring.
After holding ISU to a three-and-out, the Penguins went up 10 on a 37-yard Brian Palmer field goal. YSU went 49 yards in 10 plays before the drive stalled at the Redbird 20-yard line.
Illinois State answered right back when Geno Blow, who rushed for 128 yards on 17 carries, burst through the right side of the line scoring on an impressive 77-yard touchdown run to cut the deficit to 10-7 just 20 seconds later.
Palmer's second field goal of the first quarter put the Penguins ahead 13-7. Palmer booted a 41-yarder with 2:30 left in the opening period.
The second quarter belonged to Illinois State.
Redbirds placekicker Steven Fetzer kicked 47 and 36-yard field goals tying the contest at 13 with 6:09 left in the second.
Illinois State took its first lead of the game when Luke Drone connected on Jason Horton for a 69-yard touchdown pass late in the second quarter. On a third-and-15 play from the ISU 31, Drone's heave was just out of the reach by YSU's Vince Gliatta and hauled in by Horton who raced to the end zone putting the Redbirds ahead 20-13.
In the third quarter, Palmer's 40-yard field goal cut the Redbird lead to 20-16.
After Ben Nowicki's pooch punt pinned Illinois State at their own three-yard line, the Redbirds responded with a methodical 15-play 97-yard drive that was capped when Drone connected with Kevett Mickel for a 14-yard score on a third-and-four play.
YSU gained some momentum when De'Angelo Wilson returned a punt a career-high 76 yards to the Illinois State three-yard line.
Two plays following Wilson's return Smith's one-yard plunge pulled the Guins to within 27-22. The two-point conversion pass from Zetts to Da'Michael Horne was incomplete keeping the game at five points.
The Penguins return to action next Saturday when they travel to UNI. The contest is the Gateway Television Game of the Week and kicks off at 4:07 p.m. Eastern time.