Penguins Play Host to Valparaiso in 2012 Home Opener

TB Jamaine Cook against Pittsburgh.
TB Jamaine Cook against Pittsburgh.

Following an impressive victory over Pittsburgh, the Youngstown State football team plays its home opener on Saturday against Valparaiso. Kickoff at Stambaugh Stadium is set for 4 p.m. The game will be carried on WKBN 570 AM/iHeartRadio and aired on a tape-delay basis by MyYTV.

The sixth-ranked Penguins (1-0) opened the 2012 campaign with an emphatic 31-17 win over Pittsburgh. It was the school's first win over a BCS program and first over an FBS school since 2000. It was just the second time YSU beat a non-Mid-American Conference FBS foe since knocking off Cincinnati in 1984.

Andre Stubbs and Will Shaw each scored two touchdowns as the Penguins never trailed in the game and led by as many as 18 points in the second half. Stubbs got YSU on the scoreboard in the first quarter when he caught a 27-yard toss from Kurt Hess. After Pitt tied the game later in the quarter, Hess zipped a 14-yard scoring toss to Shaw with 10:14 left in the second to put YSU on top for good.

In the second half, Jamaine Cook threw a 23-yard halfback pass to Shaw for a touchdown on a fourth-and-1 situation with 12:07 left in the third. Early in the fourth, Stubbs found paydirt from 13 yards out to extend the advantage to 28-10. Pitt pulled within 11 points, but David Brown's 25-yard field goal with 3:02 left gave YSU the two-touchdown victory.

Valparaiso (0-1) was on the short end of a 36-34 decision in its opener against St. Joseph's (Ind.) on Aug. 30. The Crusaders led 34-30 in the fourth quarter but a touchdown with 24 seconds left proved to be the decisive score.

This marks the second straight season the Penguins and Crusaders have played at Stambaugh Stadium. Last year, YSU had one of the best halves of football in school history scoring nine touchdowns while amassing 63 points in the first half on the way to a 77-13 win. For the contest, the Guins set 11 new team single-game school records while tying two others.

YSU's key three-game September homestand continues on Sept. 15 when it plays host to Albany, a 2011 FCS Playoff participant and co-champion of the Northeast Conference, at 4 p.m.

Valpo Vitals
• YSU will look to start a season 2-0 for the first time since 2006. That year, the Penguins opened with home wins over Slippery Rock and Maine before losing at Penn State.
• In home openers all time, YSU is 47-22-2 since the program's origin in 1938. Since moving to Stambaugh Stadium in 1982, YSU is 23-6-1 in the first home game of the season. Since 1989, YSU is 19-1-1 in home openers, including a streak of 16 consecutive victories.
• TE Will Shaw caught two touchdown passes against Pittsburgh and capped off the 2011 campaign with two TD receptions against Missouri State.
• Hess has thrown a touchdown pass in 12 consecutive games. In his 23 career starts, he has thrown for a score in 18 contests.
• Sophomore WR Christian Bryan has caught a pass in 12 straight games.
• YSU had the same starting offensive line in 11 of the last 12 games.

Pittsburgh Notes
• Players who made their YSU debuts included Dale Peterman, Twin Fernandes, Steve Zaborsky, Julius Childs, Kevon Caffey, Terry Johnson, Terrell Williams, Ricardo Dixon, Kyle Bryant, Michael Wheary, Dante Nania, Demond Hymes and Marcel Caver.
• Players who made the initial starts of their careers on defense were Josh Fenderson, Luis Quinones, Dubem Nwadiogbu, Dale Peterman and Julius Childs. Everyone who started on offense had at least one previous career start.
• The 31 points scored in the game was just one shy of the 32 scored in the previous seven contests against BCS foes. And 20 of those were in the previous two games.
• It was YSU's first win in the state of Pennsylvania since knocking off Villanova 28-21 in 1999. It was also the Guins' first win over a team with the nickname of Panthers since 2000.
• YSU scored in every quarter against Pitt. YSU had touchdowns in the first three stanzas before adding a touchdown and field goal in the final period.
• PK David Brown converted a 25-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. It was Brown's first make outside as a Penguin and his first on a grass surface at YSU.
• Andre Stubbs scored the first receiving (27 yards) and first rushing (13) touchdowns of his career.
• Good friends TB Torrian Pace and QB Kurt Hess saw action together in the backfield for the first time in their careers. They are both fourth-year juniors.
• YSU led in first downs (23-17), rushing yards (204-130), total yards (381-369), time of possession (35:10-24:50) and third-down conversions (11-of-16 to 7-of-13). The Guins did not commit a turnover, had only one penalty (on a kickoff return), converted two fourth-down plays and forced two Panther turnovers. In the second half, YSU had a 20:46 to 9:14 lead in time of possession.

Pittsburgh Recap
    For the first time in school history, Youngstown State knocked off a BCS foe with an impressive 31-17 victory over Pittsburgh at Heinz Field on Saturday night.
    Andre Stubbs and Will Shaw each scored two touchdowns as the Penguins never trailed in the game and led by as many as 18 points in the second half. Stubbs got YSU on the scoreboard in the first quarter when he caught a 27-yard toss from Kurt Hess. After Pitt tied the game later in the quarter, Hess zipped a 14-yard scoring toss to Shaw with 10:14 left in the second to put YSU on top for good.
    In the second half, tailback Jamaine Cook threw a 23-yard halfback pass for a touchdown to Shaw on a fourth-and-1 situation with 12:07 left in the third. Early in the fourth, Stubbs found paydirt from 13 yards out to extend the advantage to 28-10. Pitt pulled within 11 points, but David Brown's 25-yard field goal with 3:02 left gave YSU the two-touchdown victory.
    Stubbs accounted for 172 all-purpose yards (71 rushing, 61 receiving, 40 kickoff returns) in the contest. Cook led all rushers with 89 yards on 21 carries and had an impressive night as a lead blocker for Stubbs.

Another FBS Win
    Despite not having one since 2000, the Penguins picked up their 20th win against an FBS foe by knocking off the Panthers. That's a very impressive number that is one of the most all-time by an FCS program.
    This one is 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.
    Of the 20 wins, 17 have come against teams in the Mid-American Conference. Last Saturday's against Pitt and in early 1980's YSU beat Cincinnati, then an Independent, twice.

Last Meeting Recap
    YSU set numerous school records while extending its home-opener win streak to 16 after an impressive 77-13 win over Valparaiso at Stambaugh Stadium last September.
    The Penguins set a school mark for points in a quarter with 35 in the first. YSU added four touchdowns in the second quarter to set a record with 63 points in the first half.
    Jamaine Cook, Adaris Bellamy and Jordan Thompson all rushed for two touchdowns in the first half while Torrian Pace and Parnell Taylor added second-half rushing scores.
    Quarterback Kurt Hess completed 12-of-13 passes for 204 yards and two touchdowns. His one incompletion was a dropped pass.
    Punt returner Josh Lee returned a punt 96 yards for a score in the first quarter.

Home Opener Win Streak
    The Penguins have won 16 straight home openers dating back to the 1995 campaign when it lost to Stephen F. Austin. In the 16 games since then, YSU has outscored its opponents by an impressive 616-177.
    Since then the Penguins have pitched two shutouts while the most points allowed was 21 by Slippery Rock in 2006 and Austin Peay in 2009. On offense, the Guins have scored at least 23 points in each of those games and gone over 30 on 12 occasions, including a high of 77 versus Valparaiso last year.

More on Home Openers
    YSU is 47-22-2 all-time in home openers dating back to the program's beginning in 1938. Since moving to Stambaugh Stadium in 1982, YSU is 23-6-1 in the first home game of the season. Since 1989, YSU is 19-1-1 in home openers. It has also won 16 straight since 1996.

All-Time Home Opener Notes
Most Points: 77 vs. Valparaiso, 2011
Fewest Points: 0 vs. Stephen F. Austin, 1995 (3 times)
Opp. Most Points: 43 by Southern Illinois, 1969
Opp. Fewest Points: 0 by Central State, 2008 (9 times)
Margin of Victory: 64 | 77-13 vs. Valparaiso, 2011

Meteoric Rise
    Youngstown State moved up from 13th to 6th in this week's The Sports Network Top 25. But on further review, looking at where YSU was in January compared to this week is nothing short of phenomenal.
    In the final 2011 poll, despite being the only team to beat national champion North Dakota State, YSU garnered seven total votes. To open the 2012 preseason, the Guins were ranked 13th. After defeating Pittsburgh, YSU moved up to sixth. The Penguins actually received seven first-place votes, the third-most of any team in the top 25.

Winning the Opener
    The Penguins snapped a five-game losing streak in season openers with the win at Pittsburgh. Included in that list was a 2009 loss to the Panthers. All were at BCS programs.
    With the win, YSU improves to 40-30-2 all-time in season openers. In season openers played on the road, YSU now owns a 11-22 mark. The previous time YSU had won a season opener on the road was at Western Michigan in 1993.

Home Sweet Home
    YSU has won 16 of its last 17 non-conference regular-season home games since September 2004. The Penguins' lone loss was a final-play 31-28 setback to Liberty in 2008. Coach Eric Wolford is 4-0 at home against non-conference foes with wins over Butler, Valparaiso, Central Connecticut State and Saint Francis (Pa.). In those four games, the Guins have outscored the opposition 180-67 (an average of 45-16.8).

Stealthy Stubbs
    Not the most imposing figure at 5-6, 160 pounds, redshirt freshman Andre Stubbs deceived Pittsburgh for two touchdowns and 172 all-purpose yards last Saturday.
    Stubbs finished with 71 yards rushing on six carries (an average of 11.8 per attempt) and caught four passes for 61 yards. He even chipped in 40 yards on two kickoff returns.
    Stubbs, who was named the MVFC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance, scored his first career touchdown on a nifty 27-yard reception from Kurt Hess in the first quarter. He added a 13-yard run in the fourth quarter for his first career rushing score.

New Faces on Defense
    The Penguins relied on some new playmakers on defense to make big plays in the win against Pittsburgh.
    In the first quarter, junior college transfer Dale Peterman stripped the ball from Ray Graham and YSU's Jeremey Edwards recovered. It was Peterman's first Division I collegiate game and his first college football game since 2010.
    In the fourth quarter, junior college transfer Julius Childs forced a fumble by Devin Street and fellow juco transfer Twin Fernandes pounced on the ball to seal the upset victory.
    Peterman and Childs combined for 16 tackles while tailback-turned-nickelback Parnell Taylor chipped in four more.

Offense Keeps Improving
    It looks like the Penguins' offense remains a well-oiled machine following a 31-point performance at Pittsburgh in the season opener.
    YSU had 204 yards rushing and 177 yards through the air maintaining tremendous balance that has made it hard to defend. YSU had four touchdowns - one rushing and three passing - and added a field goal to the arsenal.
    Seven different players caught passes in the game while two had at least 71 yards rushing. TB Jamaine Cook showed not only that he can run and catch, but he can pass as well. In the third quarter, Cook lofted a perfect 23-yard scoring pass to Will Shaw for a touchdown on a fourth-and-1 play. Affectionately referred to as "Penguin" it was the first TD toss by a non-QB since the 2006 playoff win over James Madison.

Line of Protection
    In 23 games under Head Coach Eric Wolford, YSU has allowed just 24 sacks. Conversely, junior quarterback Kurt Hess has started all of those contests. Against Pittsburgh, the Panthers applied pressure at times, but Hess cut his losses and tossed the ball away or found a receiver. Of those 24 sacks, five came in two games against Indiana State (two in 2010 and three in 2011).
    The YSU offensive line has surrendered just nine sacks in the last 12 games. The Penguins have started the same offensive line in 11 of those 12 games.
    Only five times in the 23 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).

Shaw Grows into Role
    Senior TE Will Shaw picked up the 2012 campaign right where he left off the 2011 season with a pair of touchdown catches.
    Shaw caught touchdown passes of 14 and 23 yards against Pittsburgh. In the contest he had three receptions for 51 yards.
    Last year Shaw was moved from defense to offense during fall camp. By the end of the season he proved to be a big asset for a high-octane offensive unit.
    He finished the year with eight receptions, seven of which came in the final three games. Shaw had his first career touchdown reception at UNI and ended the year with a two-touchdown game versus Missouri State.

Cook Remains Dependable
    Junior TB Jamaine Cook was just shy of continuing his streak of 90-plus yard rushing games finishing with 84 yards on 21 carries against Pittsburgh.
    He rushed for 90 yards or more in 10 straight games to end last year.
    In 2011, Cook rushed for more than 100 yards on eight occasions and has gone over the century mark 14 times in his career. He played in just six games during his freshman season in 2009 and had a total of 20 carries.
    He rushed for a career high in yards (1,386), carries (271) and touchdowns (13). In 2010, he rushed for 1,276 yards on 241 attempts. Cook ranked seventh in the FCS and second the MVFC in rushing averaging 126.0 yards per game last year.
    Against Pittsburgh he completed the first pass of his career. In the third quarter he found Will Shaw open for a 23-yard scoring toss.

Bryan Sets Frosh Standards
    Sophomore WR Christian Bryan set YSU freshman records for season yards and receptions as well as game receptions and yards.
    Bryan had a team-leading 46 receptions for 722 yards and six touchdowns. He averaged 65.6 yards per game and 15.7 per catch.
    Against Pittsburgh he had two receptions for seven yards.
    He set a freshman record for most receptions in a game with seven at Indiana State and set the mark for receiving yards with a 131-yard performance at Southern Illinois.
    His 46 receptions topped the previous freshman standard of 25 set by Renauld Ray while his 722 yards bettered Ray's 507.
    Bryan caught a touchdown pass in five of the last seven games a year ago.

Hess Continues to Impress
    Junior QB Kurt Hess engineered the first victory over a BCS program in school history and first against an FBS foe since 2000 with his performance against Pitt.
    Hess completed 13-of-23 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 35 yards on nine carries. He had runs of 11 and 12 yards on the first two scoring drives.
    He finished the 2011 campaign on a personal-best note with a season-best 298 yards and a school-record five touchdowns in the loss to Missouri State.
    For the season he amassed 2,460 yards and threw a school-best 26 touchdown passes.
    Hess joins Mark Brungard (1994 and 1995) and Trenton Lykes (1986 and 1987) as the only quarterbacks in school history to pass for more than 2,000 yards in consecutive seasons.
    Hess threw for 2,117 yards as a redshirt freshman in 2010.
    Thirteen times in his 23 career games, Hess has thrown for more than 200 yards.
    He is one of two quarterbacks in school history to throw for at least 200 yards in 13 different games. Hess shares the school mark with signal-caller Tom Zetts, who accomplished the feat in 47 career starts.

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. Lengyel had to sit out in 2010 after transferring up from the NCAA Division III school in Alliance, Ohio.

Preaching Red-Zone Success
    Head Coach Eric Wolford continues to stress Red Zone play in his third campaign.
    YSU has picked up the 2012 campaign right where it left off scoring on all three possessions against Pitt. The Penguins had two touchdowns and made a field goal against the Panthers.
    In 47 trips last year, the Penguins scored 39 touchdowns and kicked three field goals. YSU scored a total of 280 points on 42 of 47 visits (89.4 percent) a year ago.
    In his 23 games as coach, the Penguins are 86-for-95 (90.5 percent) inside the red zone.
    During Wolford's first campaign, YSU was 41-of-45 in the red zone for a conversion percentage of 91.1 percent.

Top Tacklers Return
    YSU returns its top three tacklers and four of its top five from 2011. Sophomore LB Teven Williams led the way with 67, sophomore LB Travis Williams had 59, senior SS Jeremey Edwards was third with 54 and junior FS Josh Garner was fifth with 47. Senior DT Aronde Stanton finished with 32 tackles last season. He was the only player last year with an interception and a fumble recovery.

Changes in Secondary
    The Penguins had seven different starting secondaries last season. Before the season started, two cornerbacks were lost to injury and against Illinois State, corner Donald D'Alesio also was shelved for the season.
    Heading into the season opener at Pitt, D'Alesio and Jamarious Boatwright were the only two on the roster with YSU starts at the cornerback position. Now, D'Alesio is playing safety while Boatwright's three starts came in 2010.
    In 2011, eight different players started at some point during the season.
    Newcomers Dale Peterman and Julius Childs started at the corner spots against Pitt while D'Alesio and Jeremey Edwards started at the safety positions.
    Peterman did not play college football last fall while Childs is a junior college transfer. Boatwright, who did play in 11 games in 2010, is healthy and will see playing time while USF transfer Ricardo Dixon, who is recovering from a knee injury of his own, joined the program this fall.

Three is Still Important
    In the past 23 games, YSU is a combined 16-of-20 on field-goal attempts. While Coach Eric Wolford is not a fan, the Penguins are on a hot streak having converted their last four tries.
    In the opener, senior PK David Brown hammered home a 25-yard kick in the fourth quarter on a field that had seen its fair share of rain throughout the evening.
    Brown is now 4-of-6 in his career, and that conversion was his first outdoors with the program as well as his first off of natural grass.
    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 David Brown in the third quarter at North Dakota State turned out to be the difference in the game.

More Close Ones
    The Penguins' last seven FCS losses have come by a total of 29 points. The final three defeats of the 2010 campaign were by a total of 12 points while all four last season were by a combined 17. Last year, YSU lost to Indiana State by two, UNI by four, Missouri State by four and South Dakota State by seven.
    Dating back to November 2009, 13 of YSU's last 17 league games have been decided by a touchdown or less.

Early Season Attention
    The Penguins had four players named to the Missouri Valley Football Conference's preseason all-league squad.
    All four of the players came on offense and were headlined by 2011 first-team all-conference selections in quarterback Kurt Hess and tailback Jermaine Cook. Senior center Mark Pratt, a second-team pick in 2011, and junior guard Chris Elkins, an honorable-mention selection last year, were also preseason first-team picks.
    Hess and Cook are also among the top 20 FCS players in the country who have been tabbed to the preseason Watch List for the Walter Payton Award honoring the division's top player.

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 was turnover free in the season opener at Pittsburgh.
    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).

Top of the Liste
    Junior punter Nick Liste was a key contributor as both punter and kickoff specialist last season, and that has continued this year.
    At Pittsburgh, he had punts of 47 and 37 yards for an average of 42.0 per boot.
    A year ago, Liste averaged 39.8 yards per punt while 16 of his 53 attempts were inside the opposition's 20-yard line. He averaged 41.1 yards per kick as a redshirt freshman in 2010. He has 94 career punts for an average of 40.5 per boot. He has 14 kicks of 50 yards or longer in his two seasons as punter.

Brown Nearly Automatic
    Senior PK David Brown made 35 straight PAT kicks at one point during the 2011 campaign. He made 53-of-56 PAT attempts on the season. The 53 makes tied for second most in school history while the 56 attempts are also second. Brown was 3-of-4 on a limited number of field-goal attempts.
    At Pittsburgh he made all four extra-point tries and drilled a 25-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.

Victory Over No. 1
    YSU knocked off the nation's top-ranked team for the first time since 1997 with the 27-24 win at North Dakota State in November. The Penguins' previous wins over No. 1 were: 1997 at Villanova (37-34), 1993 vs. Georgia Southern (34-14) and 1991 at Nevada (30-28). All three of those wins came in the playoffs.

Offense High In FCS Ranks
    In the final NCAA statistical categories for 2011, YSU was one of only five FCS teams to average more than 200 yards passing and rushing during the 2011 campaign. Overall the Penguins were 10th in rushing (231.09 yards per game) and 43rd in passing (227.55 yards per game).
    In the other categories the Guins were second in touchdowns per game (5.09), third in passing efficiency (159.93), third in fewest turnovers lost (13), fourth in first downs per game (24.00), fifth in total offense yards per game (458.64), sixth in scoring offense (36.18 points), tied for fourth in fumbles lost (five), sixth in red-zone offense (89 percent), seventh in time of possession (33:10), seventh in tackles for loss allowed (4.09), 10th in fourth-down conversion percentage (66.67), 11th in sacks allowed (0.82) and 14th in third-down conversion percentage (44.83).

Milestone Update
    TB Jamaine Cook is closing in on the 3,000-yard mark for rushing yards (2,862). TB Adaris Bellamy is 110 yards shy of 1,000. QB Kurt Hess is within reach of the 5,000-yard mark for career passing yards with 4,739. He threw the 40th touchdown pass of his career at Pittsburgh last Saturday. Junior P Nick Liste is four attempts shy of 100 punts for his career.

Career Update
    TB Jamaine Cook ranks sixth in rushing yardage (2,862) and is sixth in attempts (553). He is also ninth in all-purpose yards (3,900). QB Kurt Hess is fifth in completions (379). Hess is tied for third in touchdown passes (40) and fifth in passing yardage (4,731).

Stambaugh at 30
    The first-ever on-campus home of the Penguins, Stambaugh Stadium will be celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2012. The beautiful facility opened in September 1982 when the Penguins played host to Akron. YSU has six home games this season. All-time in the facility, the Penguins own a record of 144-52-1. More than 2.5 million fans have attended a YSU game in the Ice Castle. The 200th Youngstown State contest will be against UNI on Sept. 22.

Numbers of Note
• Turnover Margin: Since 1996, the Penguins are 103-23 when they win or tie in the turnover margin. When committing more turnovers, YSU is just 13-49.
Since 1990 YSU is:
• 132-18-2 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points in a game.
• 107-11 when rushing for 200-plus yards.
• 127-20 when scoring 28-or-more points.
• 66-7-1 when holding opponents tpo fewer than 100 yards rushing in a game.
• 155-10 when leading entering the fourth.
• 68-3-2 when holding opponents to 10 points-or-less in a game.

Up Next: Albany
    YSU plays host to 2011 playoff-participant Albany at Stambaugh Stadium on Sept. 15. It is the first meeting between the two programs.