Penguins Look to Get Back on Track at South Dakota State

Coach Eric Wolford
Coach Eric Wolford

   The Youngstown State football team will try to end a tough month of October on a high note when the Penguins visit South Dakota State this Saturday. It is YSU's third road game of the month, and the Guins will be looking to snap a three-game losing streak. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. Eastern/2 p.m. Central time at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium. The game will be carried on WKBN 570 AM/iHeartRadio with WFMJ TV airing the game live.
    The 22nd-ranked Penguins (4-3 overall and 1-3 in the MVFC) suffered their first setback at home this season last Saturday falling to a red-hot Southern Illinois squad, 38-21.
    YSU built a 21-10 lead in the second quarter thanks to three Jamaine Cook touchdown runs. However, for the second straight week, the Penguins yielded 28 consecutive points in a disappointing loss.
    Cook put YSU in front 21-10 with 2:44 left in the second quarter before the Salukis scored with 42 seconds left before halftime to get within 21-17. In the third, SIU went on top when Kory Faulkner hit MyCole Pruitt on a 34-yard touchdown pass. In the fourth, the Penguins committed an uncharacteristic four turnovers. SIU scored on two of them to put the game away.
    South Dakota State (5-2, 2-2) had its five-game winning streak snapped by UNI. The Jackrabbits managed just two field goals in a 27-6 loss at the UNI-Dome last Saturday. Running back Zach Zenner rushed for 112 yards in the contest. Zenner currently leads the FCS averaging a phenomenal 194.29 yards a game. He has 1,360 yards on 176 carries in seven contests.
   The Penguins have not won at SDSU since 1974. Of course, YSU has played just two contests at South Dakota State in that span. The last visit was in 2010 when the Guins lost 30-20. Last year in Youngstown, the Penguins suffered a 35-28 setback to the Jackrabbits. SDSU owns an 8-5 lead in the all-time series and has won all four games with YSU since joining the MVFC.
    The Penguins play two of their final three games of the season at home, beginning with their first-ever contest against South Dakota on Nov. 3. It is YSU's Homecoming contest.

South Dakota State Spotlights
• This is the Penguins' second game on grass this year; the other was in the season opener at Pittsburgh.
• In a weird twist, the Penguins have lost to three teams they beat last year (Illinois State, North Dakota State and Southern Illinois) and defeated a team (UNI) they lost to a year ago. YSU lost to South Dakota State last season.
• QB Kurt Hess is three TD passes shy of tying the school record of 51 in a career. He is also just 101 yards shy of reaching 6,000 for a career.
• TB Jamaine Cook is 107 yards shy of moving into third place past Robby Robson (3,639) in YSU career rushing yardage.
• Cook has scored YSU's last five touchdowns and six of the last seven.
• YSU has been shut out in the second half in the past three games.
• Sophomore WR Christian Bryan has caught a pass in 18 straight games. Senior TE Will Shaw and sophomore WR Kintrell Disher have caught a pass in every game this year.
• YSU has had double-digit leads in six of its seven games this season and had the lead at halftime five times.

SIU Notes
• On SIU's three scoring drives, the Salukis had 223 yards. On their eight other drives, they totalled 33 yards. The Penguins held SIU to four three-and-out series.
• It was YSU's first five-turnover game since 2006 against UNI (four INT, one lost fumble). YSU lost three fumbles and threw two interceptions against the Salukis.
• In the fourth quarter, YSU outyarded SIU 89-10, but was outscored 14-0.
• TB Jamaine Cook had his third three-touchdown game of the season. Cook scored on runs of one yard (twice) and four yards in the first half.
• Cook moved into fourth place in school history in career rushing yardage in the contest.
• QB Kurt Hess had the 16th 200-yard passing game of his career, completing 24-of-37 passes for 231 yards.
• WR/KR Andre Stubbs had a career-best 206 all-purpose yards. Stubbs had 121 on kickoffs, 78 yards receiving, five rushing and two on punt returns.
• Stubbs and WR Andrew Williams had career highs in receptions. Williams had six and Stubbs had five.
• YSU had more first downs (24-15), total yards (362-256), total plays (79-64), rushing yards (131-71), passing yards (231-185),  time of possession (31:06-28:54) and third-down conversions (9-5).
• SIU scored touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams.

Southern Illinois Recap
    Youngstown State jumped out to a 21-10 second-quarter lead, but four fourth-quarter turnovers sealed a disappointing 38-21 loss to Southern Illinois last Saturday.
    The Salukis scored three non-offensive touchdowns in the win and only 17 points on offense. YSU held SIU to 256 yards of total offense, including just 10 in the fourth quarter.
    The Penguins opened the game strong, taking their initial possession in for a touchdown. Jamaine Cook capped the 10-play drive with a one-yard scoring run.
    Early in the second, Cook found paydirt from four yards out to give the Guins a 14-3 lead. SIU blocked a punt, which was fumbled into the end zone, for touchdown to get within 14-10.
    YSU answered right back with Cook's third touchdown run of the game to go ahead 21-10. However, Southern Illinois reclaimed the momentum by scoring with 42 seconds left before halftime on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Kory Faulkner to LaSteven McKinney.
    SIU took the lead for good when Faulkner found MyCole Pruitt on a 34-yard touchdown pass with 1:22 left in the third.
    As the Guins tried to mount a comeback bid, turnovers ended any chance of a rally. YSU turned the ball over four times in the fourth as SIU scored touchdowns on a fumble recovery in the end zone and returned an interception 100 yards in the waning seconds.
    Cook rushed for 97 yards on 23 carries while Hess completed a season-high 24 passes.

2011 SDSU Recap | SDSU 35-28
    Two third-quarter touchdowns put YSU up by seven, but South Dakota State answered with two fourth-quarter scores as the Penguins suffered a 35-28 setback to the Jackrabbits last year at Stambaugh Stadium.
    Trailing 21-14 at halftime, YSU tied the game on a 48-yard touchdown pass from Kurt Hess to Jelani Berassa with 9:40 left in the third. Less than a minute later, Davion Rogers intercepted an Austin Sumner pass and returned it 27 yards for a score to put YSU in front 28-21.
    Early in the fourth quarter, Sumner connected with Aaron Rollin on a five-yard pass to tie the game with 12:36 left.
    After YSU pushed a go-ahead field-goal attempt wide, South Dakota State struck in one play when Sumner hit Rollin on a 73-yard score with 5:55 left.
    The Penguins had two possessions to possibly tie the game, but the final drive stalled at the Jackrabbit 17. The Guins moved 48 yards in six plays, but four straight incompletions ended any comeback hopes.
    Hess completed 18-of-34 passes for 243 yards and two scores. Jamaine Cook rushed for 107 yards on 18 carries and scored a touchdown.

Defense Has Strong Game
    The defense stepped up against Southern Illinois to have one of its best performances of the season.
    YSU held the Salukis to just 71 yards rushing on 34 carries - an average of 2.1 a rush. The Penguins had eight tackles for losses, including a season-high four sacks. The secondary had five pass breakups in the game. YSU also forced four three-and-out series.
    SIU's defense scored two touchdowns while its special teams added another in the game.
    
Series History
    The Penguins will be looking to snap a four-game losing streak to the Jackrabbits this Saturday. YSU's last win in the series was a 23-17 win at Stambaugh Stadium in 2007.
    In the four conference meetings, SDSU has won 35-28 (2011), 30-20 (2010), 17-3 (2009) and 40-7 (2008). The teams did not play from 1979 to 2007.
    The Guins' last victory in Brookings was a 35-21 win on Sept. 21, 1974. They have made only two trips to Coughlin-Alumni Stadium in the past 38 years.
    All-time, SDSU leads by an 8-5 margin.

Hess Closing in on TD Mark
    Junior QB Kurt Hess is closing in on another YSU record. Entering this Saturday's game against South Dakota State, Hess has thrown 48 career touchdown passes. The current mark of 51 was established by Tom Zetts from 2003-07. Jeff Ryan is the only other quarterback in school history to throw 50 in a career from 1998-2001.

Cook Finding the End Zone
    Senior TB Jamaine Cook has scored the Penguins' past five touchdowns and six of the seven YSU has scored in the past two games.
    He has scored 11 touchdowns on the season and is two shy of his career high of 13, which he established last year.
    Cook scored three times against Southern Illinois this past Saturday after a three-score effort at Illinois State. This season he has scored three touchdowns in a game on three occasions. He has at least one touchdown in five of the seven games this year.
    Cook has 3,532 career rushing yards and trails Robby Robson (1977-80) by 107 for third place in school history.

October Comes to End
    After a September to remember, the Penguins' October has been ghoulish to say the least.
    In three games this month, YSU has been outscored 121-56 while committing eight turnovers to the opposition's one in 12 quarters. YSU has been held scoreless in seven of those 12 periods.
    In September, YSU outscored the opposition 163-76 and committed just one turnover (while forcing five) in 16 quarters. The Penguins scored points in all 16 periods during September.

Stubbs All-Around Player
    Redshirt freshman Andre Stubbs, who is a member of the Jerry Rice Watch List, had a career-best 206 all-purpose yards against Southern Illinois.
    He posted 121 yards on five kickoff returns and caught a career-high five passes for a personal-best 78 yards in the loss. He also returned three punts and had three rushing attempts.
    It was the fifth time he eclipsed 100 all-purpose yards in a game this season.
    Stubbs had 170 yards at North Dakota State, including a career-high 148 yards on kickoff returns. Stubbs had 172 at Pittsburgh, 155 against UNI and 124 versus Albany.
    His 18 receptions are second on the team and tied for the most by a wide receiver.

Really Young Receivers
    A group of young receivers has had to step up the past two weeks for the Penguins.
    Against Southern Illinois, 16 of the 24 receptions were by freshman and sophomore receivers. At Illinois State, three freshmen and two sophomores combined for 12 of the 16 receptions in the game.
    In the past two games, redshirt freshman Andrew Williams has nine receptions for 125 yards. In the first five games of the season, he had five receptions.
    Redshirt freshman Andre Stubbs has seven of his 18 receptions in the past two games. Sophomore Christian Bryan had six the previous two games and has 18 for the year.
    Sophomore Kintrell Disher, who had one catch vs. SIU, caught the second touchdown pass of his career the previous week at Illinois State.
    The lone junior wide receiver to see action this year is Kevin Watts. Watts has one catch in five games played. Junior Jelani Berassa is out for the year with a knee injury.

Stanton Steps Up
    Senior DT Aronde Stanton was a difference maker for the defense against Southern Illinois.
    Stanton had 4.5 tackles for losses and two sacks in the contest. He was credited with a career-high 10 total tackles, while having a career-best seven solo stops.
    Entering the game against SIU, Stanton had 14 total tackles and just 0.5 TFLs. It was the most TFLs by a Penguin since Russell Stuvaints  had six against Western Illinois in 2001.
Brown keeps Delivering
    Senior PK David Brown has made all 30 PATs to start the campaign and all three of his field-goal attempts. He made 35 straight PAT kicks at one point during the 2011 campaign and was 53-of-56 for the season. The 53 makes tied for second most in school history while the 56 attempts are also second.
    In his career, Brown has made 6-of-7 field-goal attempts, including his last six. After not making a field goal in his first eight games, Brown has six in the past 10 contests. On PAT tries he is 83-of-86.
    He has made his last 32 extra-point tries dating back to last year's finale.

Hess Close to 6,ooo Yards
    QB Kurt Hess is close to 6,000 yards passing in his YSU career. Hess has thrown for 5,899 in 29 games. He is 101 shy of the 6,000-yard mark and will join Tom Zetts, Trenton Lykes, Jeff Ryan and Mark Brungard as quarterbacks to throw for more than 6,000 yards in a YSU career. Zetts is the only player in school history to throw for more than 6,400 yards.
    In his career, Hess is averaging 203.4 yards passing per game and holds the school mark with 16 200-yard passing games.

Williams With Best Game
    Sophomore LB Travis Williams had his best game as a Penguin against Southern Illinois.
    Williams was credited with 13 total tackles, including 11 solo stops, against the Salukis.
    His previous career high was 11, which he set last year against SIU.
    In his 19-game YSU career, Williams has 98 career tackles, including 57 solo stops.

Providing Protection
    In 29 games under Head Coach Eric Wolford, YSU has allowed just 30 sacks. Conversely, junior quarterback Kurt Hess has started all of those contests. Of those 30 sacks, five came in two games against Indiana State (two in 2010 and three in 2011). Through seven games, YSU has allowed only six sacks this season.
    The YSU offensive line has surrendered just 15 sacks in the last 18 games overall. The Penguins have started the same offensive line in 15 of those 18 games.
    Only six times in the 29 games have the Guins allowed more than one sack and four of those came in 2010. In the contests against Pittsburgh, Michigan State and Penn State, the Penguins allowed a total of one sack (PSU).

Hess Among FCS' Best
    Junior QB Kurt Hess ranks fifth among active FCS quarterbacks in career passing efficiency.
    Hess sits at an impressive 142.71 in efficiency for his career. Ahead of him are Old Dominion's Taylor Heinicke (160.50), Cary Grossart of Northern Arizona (152.98), DeNarius McGhee of Montana State (147.99) and Elon's Thomas Wilson (144.03).
    North Dakota State's Brock Jensen sits in the eighth spot while Illinois State's Matt Brown is 19th.
    Hess's 48 touchdown passes are 15th among active players while his 5,899 yards are 16th and his 472 attempts are 18th.
    In his last 18 games, Hess has thrown 36 touchdown passes and just 12 interceptions.

Cook Finding His Stride
    With the arrival of conference play, senior TB Jamaine Cook's production has increased. In four league games, he has rushed for 463 yards on 94 attempts. He is averaging 115.8 yards per game so far. In the four games, he has scored seven of the Guins' eight rushing touchdowns.
    In each of the past two games, Cook has rushed for three first-half touchdowns.
    He had 97 yards against Southern Illinois after rushing for a season-high 177 yards at Illinois State.
    In three of the past five games, Cook has rushed for more than 146 yards and has a total of 10 touchdowns in that span.
    Cook had a 146-yard, 32-carry performance in the win over UNI. A game earlier he had 161 yards on a season-high 33 carries and scored three touchdowns in a win over Albany. The 33 carries tied for the second most in his YSU career. He has 10 30-plus carry performances in his Penguin career.

Red-Zone Success
    YSU continues to convert at high success rate in the red zone under Head Coach Eric Wolford.
    The Penguins are 25-of-29 inside the red-zone this season (86 percent). YSU went 3-of-4 against Southern Illinois, was 4-of-4 at Illinois State, went 1-of-3 at NDSU, was 2-of-2 vs. UNI, 5-of-5 against Albany, 7-of-8 vs. Valparaiso and 3-of-3 at Pittsburgh. The Guins have scored 22 touchdowns and made three field goals in those trips.
    In his 29 games as coach, the Penguins are 108-for-122 (88.5 percent) inside the red zone. In 47 visits last year, the Penguins scored 39 touchdowns and kicked three field goals. YSU scored a total of 280 points on 42 of those 47 visits (89.4 percent). During Wolford's first campaign in 2010, YSU was 41-of-45 in the red zone for a conversion percentage of 91.1 percent.

Spreading the Wealth
    The Penguins have five players on the defense with 32-or-more tackles. Sophomore LB Travis Williams leads the team with 40 total tackles, but is second with 26 unassisted stops. Senior SS Jeremey Edwards leads the second with 38 tackles while junior CB Dale Peterman is right behind with 36, including a team-high 28 solo stops. Sophomore LB Teven Williams has 33 total tackles while sophomore CB Julius Childs is at 32.
    Edwards has the Guins' lone interception while nine different players have at least one sack. Travis Williams leads the team with 5.5 TFLs while Aronde Stanton is second at five TFLs.

Experienced Offense
    The Penguins offense is an experienced group and has scored at least three touchdowns in six of seven games this year.
    QB Kurt Hess has started 29 straight games while TB Jamaine Cook has started 28 of the past 29.
    Junior OG Chris Elkins has started 22 consecutive games, the longest streak on the offensive line. Senior C Mark Pratt and senior OG Lamar Mady have started all 18 games of their careers. Right tackle D.J. Main has started 10 straight games and 24 in his career. Left tackle Andrew Radakovich did not play at Illinois State, snapping his streak of 36 consecutive appearances in the starting lineup.
    Sophomore WR Christian Bryan has logged 18 consecutive starts as well. Senior TE Will Shaw has started all seven games this year. WR's Kintrell Disher and Andre Stubbs have been starters five times in 2012.
    Redshirt freshman WR Andrew Williams and junior OT Kyle Bryant were in the starting lineup for the past two games.

Picking up The Pace
    Junior TB Torrian Pace has provided a spark for the Penguins this year. Pace has rushed for 250 yards on 41 carries this season. Entering the year, Pace had 203 yards on 38 carries.
    This year he has scored two key fourth-quarter touchdowns. Against Albany, Pace scored on fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line with 2:48 left. That touchdown increased YSU's lead from three to 10 points. Against UNI, he scored the game-tying touchdown in the fourth quarter with 7:07 left.
    Earlier this year, Pace rushed for a career-high 146 yards on 14 carries and scored two touchdowns against Valparaiso.

Top of the Liste
    Junior punter Nick Liste continues to be a key contributor as punter and kickoff specialist. Handling kickoff duties, he already has 12 touchbacks this season after having just three a year ago. He is averaging 41.2 yards per punt this season. At North Dakota State he averaged 52.3 yards on three kicks, with a long of 56.
    As a sophomore, he averaged 39.8 yards per punt while 16 kicks were inside the opposition's 20. He averaged 41.1 yards per kick in 2010. He has 114 career punts for an average of 40.6 per boot. He has 16 kicks of 50 yards or longer in his three seasons as punter.

Shaw Grows into Role
    Senior TE Will Shaw has caught a team-high 19 passes in his first full season as a tight end. Last year, Shaw had eight receptions, seven of which came near the end of the season.
    He leads the Penguins with four receiving touchdowns and is second in yards with 253. Shaw has caught a pass in each game this season, including a career-high five receptions for 95 yards against UNI.
    In the game against the Panthers he had two key fourth-down receptions in the second half in the come-from-behind win.
    In his last eight games, Shaw has 26 receptions, including six for touchdowns. He had two touchdown catches in the victory at Pitt. He also had scoring grabs against Valparaiso and UNI.

Secondary Stability
    The Penguins had seven different starting secondaries last season. So far this year they have had the same four starters in every game.
    The group of CBs Dale Peterman and Julius Childs, FS Donald D'Alesio and SS Jeremey Edwards have started the first seven games together.

Three is Still Important
    In the past 29 games, YSU is a combined 18-of-22 on field-goal attempts. While Coach Eric Wolford is not a fan, the Penguins are on a hot streak having converted their last six tries.
    This season, PK David Brown has converted from 27 (Valparaiso) and 25 (Pittsburgh, Albany) yards. He is now 6-of-8 in his career.
    In 2011, the Penguins did not make a field goal in the first eight games before converting a 28-yard kick at UNI and two (33 and 30) at North Dakota State. The 30-yard kick by Brown in the third quarter at North Dakota State turned out to be the difference in the game.
    YSU was 12-of-14 in 2010.

Cheaib's Block Party
    Junior LB Ali Cheaib has blocked two punts in just seven games this season. Cheaib blocked a punt in the first half against Valparaiso and added his second block of the year in the fourth quarter against Albany. Both blocks helped lead to YSU touchdowns. Cheaib is the first player since Jarritt Goode in 1996 to block two punts in the same season.

Hess Continues to Impress
    Junior QB Kurt Hess became the first player in school history to throw four touchdown passes or more in four games. Hess and Keith Snoddy each had four touchdown passes in three games. Hess threw touchdown passes to four different players against UNI.
    In his 29-game career, he has thrown for more than 200 yards on 16 occasions, a school record.

Bryan Is Mr. Dependable
    Sophomore WR Christian Bryan has caught a pass in every game of his YSU career while hauling in a touchdown pass in almost half of them.
    In 18 career games played, Bryan has caught a touchdown pass in eight of them. He has started every game as well.
    This season he has 18 receptions for 218 yards and two touchdowns.     Last season, Bryan had a team-leading 46 receptions for 722 yards and six touchdowns. He has 941 yards receiving in his career.

Winning Streak Is Key
    YSU won four straight games for the first time since 2006 to open the season. In 2006, the Penguins won five straight, including two in the postseason, and four straight during the year.
    Since 1987, YSU has made the playoffs in each year it has posted a winning streak of at least four games.
    The 2006 campaign was the last time YSU reached the postseason.

2012 Senior Class
    The Penguins' 2012 senior class has been heavily impacted by the junior-college ranks. In fact, of the 14 seniors on the roster, 10 played at a junior college. D.J. Main is the only fifth-year senior on the squad while Jamaine Cook and Andrew Radakovich have both been with the program four seasons.
    Senior DE Chuck Lengyel has been with YSU three seasons after transferring from Mount Union.

Single Digits in Fumbles
    The Guins lost five fumbles (two on non offensive plays) for the entire campaign in 2011. It marked the eighth straight year of losing single digits in fumbles.
    YSU has lost four fumbles after seven games.
    In 2010, the Penguins lost nine fumbles. In 2009, YSU lost just three fumbles. In 2008, YSU lost nine in 12 games. YSU had nine fumbles lost in 2007, five in 2006, eight in 2005 and eight in 2004. Prior to the current seven-year streak, the Guins had committed single digits in fumbles lost in consecutive years just twice in school history (1986-87 and 1958-59).

Another FBS Win
    Despite not having one since 2000, the Penguins picked up their 20th win against an FBS foe by knocking off Pittsburgh, 31-17, in the season opener at Heinz Field.
    This one was probably the most impressive. In seven previous games against BCS teams, YSU had never scored more than 14 points while the closest margin of defeat was 22 at Michigan State last year.

Numbers of Note
• Turnover Margin: Since 1996, the Penguins are 105-24 when they win or tie in the turnover margin. When committing more turnovers, YSU is just 14-51.
Since 1990 YSU is:
• 133-18-2 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points in a game.
• 109-12 when rushing for 200-plus yards.
• 130-21 when scoring 28-or-more points.
• 67-7-1 when holding opponents to fewer than 100 yards rushing in a game.
• 157-11 when leading entering the fourth.
• 69-3-2 when holding opponents to 10 points-or-less in a game.

Up Next: South Dakota
    YSU plays MVFC newcomer South Dakota for the first time on Nov. 3.
    The contest is the program's Homecoming game. Kickoff at Stambaugh Stadium is set for 2 p.m.