The Youngstown State football team plays its annual Homecoming game on Saturday against South Dakota. Kickoff at Stambaugh Stadium is set for 2:05 p.m. The game will be carried on WKBN 570 AM/iHeartRadio with MyYTV carrying the game on tape delay.
The Penguins (4-4 overall and 1-4 in the MVFC) will be looking to snap a four-game losing streak after falling at South Dakota State 41-28 last Saturday. YSU trailed 41-7 late in the third quarter before scoring the final 21 points of the contest.
The contest against the Jackrabbits was tied at seven after the first quarter, but two turnovers and a special-teams miscue turned the momentum of the game in the second quarter. SDSU took a 14-7 lead on a 50-yard touchdown pass from Austin Sumner to Tyrel Kool at the 11:51 mark. The Jackrabbits proceeded to score two touchdowns in 1:39 on drives that totalled 27 yards. The first score was set up by a bad snap on a punt that gave SDSU the ball at the YSU 12. The second came following an interception that was returned to the Penguins' 15-yard line. Just before halftime, the Jackrabbits extended the lead to 35-7 when Sumner threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Jason Schneider.
SDSU scored on its first play of the second half before the Penguins scored the final three touchdowns and moved the ball deep into Jackrabbits territory on two other drives.
South Dakota (1-7 and 0-5) suffered its sixth straight defeat last Saturday, losing 45-14 at Indiana State. The Sycamores scored 28 first-half points en route to the victory. The Coyotes have allowed 24 points or more in each game this season with their last win coming on Sept. 8 against Colgate.
This is the first-ever meeting between the programs. USD is in its first year in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
Saturday's game marks the 71st Homecoming game in school history. The Penguins own an all-time mark of 48-21-1 in Homecoming contests. At Stambaugh Stadium, YSU is a 20-10 in Homecoming games.
South Dakota Scoops
• The Penguins will be looking to win back-to-back Homecoming games for the first time since 2001-02. YSU defeated Western Illinois 56-14 last season on Homecoming.
• QB Kurt Hess is one TD pass shy of tying the school record of 51 in a career.
• The Penguins have registered eight sacks in the past two games. In the six previous contests, they had seven.
• TB Jamaine Cook is 27 yards shy of moving into third place past Robby Robson (3,639) in YSU career rushing yardage.
• PK David Brown has made all 34 extra-point tries this season and has converted his last 36 overall.
• The Penguins have committed eight turnovers in the past two games.
• Sophomore WR Christian Bryan has caught a pass in 19 straight games. Senior TE Will Shaw and sophomore WR Kintrell Disher have caught a pass in every game this year.
• The contest is the 71st Homecoming game in school history and the 31st such game at Stambaugh Stadium.
• YSU has had double-digit leads in six of its eight games this season and had the lead at halftime five times.
• Two of SDSU's six scoring drives were 15 yards or fewer while three were three plays or less.
• YSU tied a season high with 14 fourth-quarter points. The Penguins scored the final 21 points of the game.
• C Stephen Page and SS Twin Fernandes made their first career starts.
• QB Kurt Hess had the 17th multiple-touchdown pass game of his career. He also had the 17th 200-plus yard passing performance of his career, an ongoing school record.
• After the first offense snap of the third quarter, the Penguins held SDSU to 51 yards on its final 29 offensive snaps.
• YSU held SDSU TB Zach Zenner, who was averaging 194.3 yards rushing per game entering the contest, to just 87 yards on 17 carries.
• Hess accounted for three touchdowns on the afternoon. He ran for a 15-yard score in the first quarter and threw two second-half touchdown passes.
• TE Will Shaw set a school mark for receptions by a tight end with 10. Shaw was the first Penguin since Dominique Barnes against Indiana State in 2010 with 10 catches in a single game.
• YSU had more first downs (19-16), total plays (76-61), rushing yards (83-65), passing completions (25-19), passing attempts (42-30), time of possession (31:49-28:11) and third-down conversions (8-3).
South Dakota State Recap
Youngstown State scored the final 21 points of the game and made things interesting late before falling 41-28 at South Dakota State last Saturday at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.
A rough second quarter proved to be too much to overcome. After falling behind, the Penguins tied the game at seven in the first quarter on a 15-yard run by Kurt Hess.
In the second quarter, SDSU scored 28 points to seize control of the contest.
SDSU took a 14-7 lead on a 50-yard touchdown pass from Austin Sumner to Tyrel Kool at the 11:51 mark. The Jackrabbits proceeded to score two touchdowns in 1:39 on drives that totalled 27 yards. The first score was set up by a bad snap on a punt that gave SDSU the ball at the YSU 12. The second came following an interception that was returned to the Penguins' 15-yard line. Just before halftime, the Jackrabbits extended the lead to 35-7 when Sumner threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to Jason Schneider.
SDSU scored on its first play of the second half before the Penguins scored the final three touchdowns and moved the ball deep into Jackrabbits territory on two other drives.
Kurt Hess threw touchdown passes to Christian Bryan and Will Shaw while Aronde Stanton scooped-and-scored on a fumbled interception by Jamarious Boatwright.
YSU reached the SDSU 21-yard line and the 17-yard line on two additional drives.
Facing the Newcomers
South Dakota is the fourth team to join the MVFC since the Penguins came aboard in 1997. In the first league matchup with the three other schools - Western Kentucky, North Dakota State and South Dakota State, YSU went 1-2.
Against WKU in 2001, YSU lost 24-14, in 2007, the Penguins dropped a 40-7 contest at South Dakota State while in 2008, YSU knocked off North Dakota State, 32-24.
Against those three other opponents, YSU had some kind of previous meeting. This is the first time that the conference clash is the initial meeting between a league newcomer.
Homecoming on Tap
The Penguins will be looking to win consecutive Homecoming games for the first time since winning 11 straight from 1992-2002.
In last season's Homecoming, YSU dispatched of Western Illinois 56-14. Prior to that, the Guins had lost five straight Homecoming contests. Since 2002, the Homecoming wins came in 2005 and 2011.
It is just the 14th November Homecoming tilt in school history. YSU is 10-3 in November Homecoming games. The Penguins own an all-time mark of 48-21-1 in Homecoming contests. At Stambaugh Stadium, YSU is 20-10.
Clamping down on the run
The defense had a solid performance against one of the nation's top FCS backs, Zach Zenner. Zenner entered the game averaging 194.3 yards a contest.
Zenner had 87 yards on 17 carries against the Penguins. Zenner's previous low was 112 on 20 carries against UNI. He opened the year with a 183-yard, 23-carry performance at Kansas.
For the game, SDSU had only 65 yards on 31 carries. Entering the game, the Jackrabbits were ranked 14th in the FCS in rushing yards per game.
Last time out against Southern Illinois, YSU held the Salukis to just 71 yards rushing on 34 carries - an average of 2.1 a rush.
In the past two games, YSU has 16 tackles for losses, including eight sacks. YSU had eight TFLs and four sacks in each of the past two games.
YSU ranks ninth in the FCS in rushing defense surrendering 101.38 yards per game.
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, Hess has thrown 50 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.
Shaw Sets Reception Mark
Senior tight end Will Shaw set a position record for receptions in a game with 10 at South Dakota State. Shaw had 10 receptions for a career-high 120 yards and a touchdown against the Jackrabbits. He is the first Penguin with 10 receptions in a game since Dominique Barnes had 10 grabs vs. Indiana State in 2010. He has a team-high 29 receptions for 373 yards and five touchdowns this season.
Cook Finding the End Zone
Senior TB Jamaine Cook has scored 11 touchdowns on the season and is two shy of his career high of 13, which he established last year.
Cook has had three three-touchdown efforts this season, the most recent of which came in the last home game against Southern Illinois.
Cook initially scored three touchdowns in the first half of the win over Albany and had three scores in the first half of the contest at Illinois State. He has at least one touchdown in five of the eight games this year.
Cook has 3,612 career rushing yards and trails Robby Robson (1977-80) by just 27 for third place in school history. He ranks seventh among active FCS players in career rushing yards.
October Comes to End
After a September to remember, the Penguins' October was ghoulish to say the least.
In four October games, YSU was outscored 162-84 while committing 11 turnovers to the opposition's two in 16 quarters. YSU was held scoreless in eight of those 16 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.
Brown Keeps Delivering
Senior PK David Brown has made all 34 PATs this year and all three of his field-goal attempts. He enters the South Dakota contest on a career-best streak of 36 straight made PATs.
Brown 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 87-of-90.
Hess Nearing 500
QB Kurt Hess is just three completions shy of becoming the third quarterback in school history to complete 500 passes.
Hess sits at 497 to rank third in school history in the category. Tom Zetts hold the mark with 654 while Trenton Lykes is second with 543.
Against South Dakota State, Hess went over 6,000 yards and 800 attempts. He was 25-of-42 for 270 yards and two touchdowns vs. the Jackrabbits. He sits at 803 attempts and 6,169 yards in his Penguins career.
He joined Zetts, Lykes, Jeff Ryan and Mark Brungard as Penguins to throw for more than 6,000 yards in a career.
In his career, Hess is averaging 205.6 yards passing per game and holds the school mark with 17 200-yard passing games.
Stanton Finds Paydirt
Senior DT Aronde Stanton scored the first touchdown of his career against South Dakota State. Stanton was credited with a 16-yard interception return on an odd sequence on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Jamarious Boatwright intercepted a tipped pass at the SDSU 19-yard line, only to have the ball stripped by Aaron Rollin. The ball shot forward into the arms of Stanton, who turned around and raced 16 yards for the score.
Stanton nearly scored last year at Indiana State. While trying to return a fumble, he lost the ball short of the end zone and the play resulted in a touchback.
Really Young Receivers
A group of young receivers has had to step up for the Penguins this season.
Of the 84 catches by the YSU wide receivers this season, 81 have been by freshmen or sophomores. Sophomore Christian Bryan leads the group with 20 while redshirt freshman Andre Stubbs has 19 and fellow redshirt frosh Andrew Williams has 18.
Williams has been the go-to target lately with 15 receptions in the past four games.
YSU's tight ends, led by senior Will Shaw, have combined for 39 receptions this season. Shaw leads the team with 29 grabs.
At South Dakota State, four freshmen and two sophomores combined for 12 receptions.
The lone junior wide receiver to see action this year is Kevin Watts. Watts has three catches in six games played. Junior Jelani Berassa is out for the year with a knee injury.
In 30 games under Head Coach Eric Wolford, YSU has allowed just 32 sacks. Conversely, junior quarterback Kurt Hess has started all of those contests. Of those 32 sacks, five came in two games against Indiana State (two in 2010 and three in 2011). Through eight games, YSU has allowed only eight sacks this season. The Guins rank 11th in the FCS in fewest sacks allowed per game.
The YSU offensive line has surrendered just 19 sacks in the last 20 games overall.
Only seven times in the 30 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 ninth among active FCS quarterbacks in career passing efficiency. Hess's 50 touchdown passes are 13th among active players while his 6,169 yards are 16th and his 497 completions are 17th.
In his last 19 games (each start the past two years), Hess has thrown 38 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions.
Cook Finding His Stride
With the arrival of conference play, senior TB Jamaine Cook's production has increased. In five league games, he has rushed for 543 yards on 113 attempts. He is averaging 108.6 yards per game so far. In the five games, he has scored seven of the Guins' nine rushing touchdowns. Cook ran for a season-high 177 yards at Illinois State.
Shaw Grows into Role
Senior TE Will Shaw has caught a team-high 29 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 five receiving touchdowns and 373 yards. Shaw has caught a pass in each game this season, including a career-high 10 receptions for 120 yards last Saturday at South Dakota State.
In his last nine games, Shaw has 36 receptions, including seven for touchdowns. He had two touchdown catches in the victory at Pitt. He also had scoring grabs against Valparaiso, UNI and SDSU. He had two TDs in last year's season finale vs. Missouri State.
YSU continues to convert at a high success rate in the red zone under Head Coach Eric Wolford.
The Penguins are 27-of-33 inside the red-zone this season (82 percent). YSU went 2-of-4 at South Dakota State, 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 30 games as coach, the Penguins are 110-for-126 (87.3 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.
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.
He left the contest at South Dakota State in the first quarter with a shoulder injury.
Stanton Steps Up
Senior DT Aronde Stanton had the most tackles for losses by a Penguin in 11 seasons on Oct. 20 vs. Southern Illinois.
Stanton had 4.5 tackles for losses and two sacks against the Salukis. 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.
Turning Up the Pressure
YSU has registered eight sacks the past two weeks with four each against South Dakota State and Southern Illinois.
For the season, the Penguins now have 15 sacks. Linemen Nick DeKraker, Kyle Sirl and Aronde Stanton all are tied for the team lead with three sacks apiece. Eight other players have at least one sack. Stanton leads the team with seven tackles for losses.
In 2011, YSU had 23 sacks and 56 tackles for loss. The 23 sacks were the most since the Penguins registered 28 in 2007.
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 20-game YSU career, Williams has 105 career tackles, including 61 solo stops.
Spreading the Wealth
The Penguins have five players on the defense with 36-or-more tackles. Sophomore LB Travis Williams leads the team with 47 total tackles and 30 unassisted stops. Senior SS Jeremey Edwards leads the secondary with 43 tackles. Sophomore LB Teven Williams is third on the team with 40 tackles while junior CB Dale Peterman is right behind with 39, including 29 solo stops. Sophomore CB Julius Childs is at 36 tackles for the campaign.
The Penguins offense features an experienced group and has scored at least three touchdowns in seven of eight games this year.
QB Kurt Hess has started 30 straight games while TB Jamaine Cook has started 29 of the past 30.
Junior OG Chris Elkins has started 23 consecutive games, the longest streak on the offensive line. Senior OG Lamar Mady has the second-longest active streak at 19 starts. C Mark Pratt had started 18 consecutive games before being sidelined at South Dakota State with an ankle injury.
OT D.J. Main has started 11 straight games and 25 in his career. OT Andrew Radakovich did not play at SDSU, and had his consecutive starting streak end at 36 earlier this year.
Sophomore WR Christian Bryan has logged 19 consecutive starts while senior TE Will Shaw has started all eight games this year.
Redshirt freshman WR Andrew Williams and junior OT Kyle Bryant were in the starting lineup for the past three games while C Stephen Page made his first career start at SDSU.
Picking up The Pace
Junior TB Torrian Pace has provided a spark for the Penguins this year. Pace has rushed for 262 yards on 45 carries this season. Entering the year, Pace had 203 yards on 38 carries in his career.
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 41.0 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 117 career punts for an average of 40.6 per boot. He has 17 kicks of 50 yards or longer in his three seasons as punter.
Three is Still Important
In the past 30 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.
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 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 30-game career, he has thrown for more than 200 yards on 17 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 19 career games played, Bryan has caught a touchdown pass in nine of them. He has started every game as well.
This season he has 20 receptions for 230 yards and three touchdowns. Last season, Bryan had a team-leading 46 receptions for 722 yards and six touchdowns. He has 952 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 six fumbles through eight games in 2012.
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 14-52.
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.
• 130-22 when scoring 28-or-more points.
• 67-8-1 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: at Western Illinois
YSU plays its final road game of the season at Western Illinois. Kickoff at Hanson Field is set for 2 p.m. Eastern/1 p.m. Central time.
The Penguins defeated the Leathernecks 56-14 at home last season.