Cook, Defense Hold Off Albany For 31-24 Victory

Cook, Defense Hold Off Albany For 31-24 Victory

Yougstown -- Senior Jamaine Cook rushed for 161 yards on 33 carries with three touchdowns and the Penguins' defense allowed just 112 total yards in the second half to lead the fifth-ranked Youngstown State football team to a 31-24 victory over Albany on Saturday afternoon at Stambaugh Stadium.

The Guins improve to 3-0 for the first time since 2005 while the Great Danes fall to 2-1. The win sets up a potential top 10 showdown against Northern Iowa in the Missouri Valley Football Conference opener at 7 p.m. at Stambaugh Stadium.

Cook, who had 198 all-purpose yards, became the sixth player to eclipse 3,000 career rushing yards and the eighth to pass 4,000 career all-purpose yards. He ranks sixth all-time with 3,069 rushing yards and fifth with 4,149 all-purpose yards.

Junior Kurt Hess threw for 183 yards on 15-of-22 attempts and became just the fifth YSU quarterback to throw for more than 5,000 yards in a career with 5,060.

In a game that saw six touchdowns scored in the first half, the Youngstown State defense and special teams made the big plays to secure the victory.

After allowing three touchdowns and 226 total yards in the first half, the Guins defense buckled down and gave up just 48 yards on the ground and just a last-minute field when the game was out of reach.

The biggest play of the game came late in the fourth with YSU leading, 24-21, and the defense forcing the Great Danes into another punt. Junior linebacker Ali Cheaib broke through the line and blocked the Albany punt to set up the offense at the Great Danes' 29-yard line with 5:28 to go.

Hess hit Christian Bryan on 2nd-and-6 for a 22 yard gain to the Albany three. Four plays later, on 4th-and-goal from the one, Torrian Pace scampered in to give the Guins a 10-point lead, 31-21, with 2:40 to go.

Albany drove 63 yards to convert a 30-yard field goal by Sean Kenny, but the Guins recovered the ensuing onside kick to seal the victory.

Senior David Brown's 25-yard field goald gave the Guins a 24-21 lead with 2:15 left in the third quarter.

In the first half, Albany forced the Guins' first turnover of the season on the game's opening possession when Justinian recovered a Will Shaw fumble and returned it 10 yards to the Great Danes' 46-yard line.

Three plays later, Albany's Will Fiacchi connected with Cole King on a 44-yard flee-flicker to give the Great Danes a 7-0 lead with 9:52 left in the first quarter. It also marked the first time the Guins' trailed all season.

Guins responded with two scoring drives on their next two possessions to take a 14-7 lead with 13:27 left in the second.

On the first scoring drive, Cook rushed seven times for 46 yards and caught a pass for 14 more and tied the game at 7-7 on a two-yard plunge with 5:25 to go in the first quarter.

After forcing a three-and-out, the Guins marched 49 yards in nine plays to take their first lead of the game, 14-7, on a seven-yard scamper by Cook.

The Great Danes tied the game at 14-14 with an impressive eight-play, 80-yard drive capped by a 32-yard run by Omar Osborne with 6:08 left before halftime.

The Guins used the rushing duo of Cook and Pace to regain 21-14 lead with 3:32 left in the second quarter. During the drive, Cook rushed five times for 29 yards, including a seven-yard touchdown run, and Pace added three carries for 27 yards.

The Great Danes were not done and knotted up the game again at 21-21 with an 11-yard, 71 yard drive and scored on a nine-yard touchdown pass from Fiacchi to Drew Smith with nine seconds remaining.