Penguins Return Home to Face Duquesne in Final Non-League Tilt

Terry Johnson and D.J. Moss
Terry Johnson and D.J. Moss

    The Youngstown State football team returns home to play host to Duquesne on Saturday. Kickoff at Stambaugh Stadium is set for 4 p.m. The game is available on WKBN 570 AM/iHeartRadio and will be aired on tape delay by MyYTV.
    This is the first meeting between the Penguins and Dukes, which are located just an hour apart. Duquesne, a member of the Northeast Conference, is the first Pennsylvania team to visit Stambaugh Stadium since Lock Haven in 2007.
    YSU (2-1) will be looking to rebound following a 55-17 loss at Michigan State last Saturday. The Penguins never really got on track against the Spartans, who jumped out to a 21-3 lead. YSU pulled within 21-10 following a touchdown run by Martin Ruiz before Michigan State scored four straight touchdowns. Ruiz added a 34-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter as well. The 17 points were the most scored by the Guins against a Big Ten foe in six meetings.
    Duquesne (1-1) opened the season with a home win over Albany (35-24), but two weeks ago dropped a 23-20 contest at Dayton. The Dukes did not play last Saturday. Against Dayton, the Dukes led 10-0 in the first quarter and 20-14 at halftime. However, the Flyers held Duquesne scoreless in the second half as William Will kicked three field goals to rally Dayton.
    The Penguins will be looking to close out the non-conference slate on a high note with a solid performance against the Dukes as Missouri Valley Football Conference play looms next Saturday. YSU opens conference play at Southern Illinois on Sept. 28 and remains on the road to play at Indiana State on Oct. 5.
    YSU has played well at home winning four straight dating back to last October. Against non-conference foes, the Guins have won 20 of their last 21 regular-season home games since September 2004. In the month of September, YSU has won 10 straight home games since 2008. The last Pennsylvania team to win in Youngstown was Villanova on Oct. 28, 1978, at Austintown Fitch High School.

Michigan State Notes
• The Penguins' previous high for points against a Big Ten foe was 14 in 2010 at Penn State. YSU scored 17 against the Spartans after scoring six in 2011.
• Punter Nick Liste had a tremendous game. Liste had punts of 62, 55, 53, 52, 50, 48 and 46 yards in the contest. Liste averaged 50.9 yards per punt.
• Freshman TB Martin Ruiz caught the first touchdown pass of his career in the third quarter. He had a rushing touchdown for the second consecutive contest.
• Junior PK Joey Cejudo knocked home a 34-yard field goal in the first quarter. He has made a field goal in two straight games.
• Sophomore WR Andre Stubbs accumulated 193 all-purpose yards. Stubbs had 138 yards on five kickoff returns, 47 receiving yards on three receptions and eight on two rushes.
• Junior CB Julius Childs recorded a career-high 11 total tackles against the Spartans. Childs had eight solo stops and three assists.
• Senior QB Kurt Hess started his 36th consecutive game at the quarterback spot. He threw the 57th touchdown pass of his career in the third quarter. That mark is a school record.
• The 55 points allowed were the most by the program since Georgia Southern scored 59 in the 1999 National Championship Game.
• YSU scored touchdowns in the second and third quarters. The Guins have scored touchdowns in 10 of 12 periods so far this year.
• The Penguins opened the game starting three tight ends (Nate Adams, Carson Sharbaugh and Kintrell Disher) for the first time this season.
• YSU had the ball for only 25 seconds in the fourth quarter and ran three offensive plays. The Spartans maintained possession for 14:35 and ran 26 plays.

Michigan State Recap
    The Penguins were never able to get in sync against a physical Michigan State squad losing 55-17 to the Spartans at Spartan Stadium last Saturday.
    YSU never led and in the first half did its best to chip away at the Spartans' advantage. The Penguins trailed 7-3 midway through the first quarter and 21-10 in the final four minutes of the second quarter.
    Michigan State was able to put the game out of reach by scoring four straight touchdowns to build a 49-10 lead.
    Freshman TB Martin Ruiz had two scores - one rushing and one receiving - in the contest. Michigan State had 547 yards of total offense while its staunch defense limited the high-powered Penguins offense to 172 yards and eight first downs.

Duquesne Scouting Report
    Duquesne has split its first two contests of the season, beating Albany in its season opener before falling at Dayton on Sept. 7.
    Through two games, redshirt freshman quarterback Dillon Buechel has completed 66.2 percent of his passes (43-of-65) for 604 yards and four touchdowns. He threw for 309 yards in the opener vs. Albany and followed that with a 295-yard passing performance at Dayton.
    Senior linebacker Dorian Bell is a preseason All-American and is on the Buck Buchanan Award Watch List as the nation's top FCS defensive player. Bell has seven tackles so far this season. Redshirt freshman linebacker Aaron Reed leads the team with 19 total tackles.

Pennsylvania Visitors
    The Penguins have had a tremendous amount of success against visitors from the Keystone State. The last time YSU lost a home game to a team from Pennsylvania was to Villanova on Oct. 28, 1978 (22-17).
    Since that time, the Guins have won 27 straight home games against teams from Pennsylvania. Most of those contests have come against members of the Division II PSAC. Two of the wins have come against Villanova.

Penn Guins
    Duquesne has a good amount of Ohio student-athletes on its roster, and the Penguins have their fair share of Pennsylvania natives. YSU has 18 players from Pennsylvania - Christian Bryan, Dante Nania, Tanner Garry, Jaylin Kelly, Cole Kochman, Corey Henry, Anthony Parente, Rhamir Thomas, Christian Wilson, Matt Bell, Terrell Williams, Justin Spencer, Mason Giacomelli, Chris Elkins, Brock Eisenhuth, Dylan Colucci, Brad Good and Mike Palumbo.

Non-Conference Success at Home
    YSU has won 20 of its last 21 non-conference regular-season home games since September 2004. The lone loss was a final-play 31-28 setback to Liberty in 2008.
    Coach Eric Wolford is 8-0 at home against non-conference foes with wins over Albany, Butler, Dayton, Morehead State, Valparaiso (twice), Central Connecticut State and Saint Francis (Pa.). In those eight games, the Guins have outscored the opposition 365-114 (an average of 45.6-14.3).

September Home Streak
    The Penguins are 9-0 at home in September since Head Coach Eric Wolford took over the program in 2010 and have won 10 straight overall. Since losing to Florida International on Sept. 11, 2004, YSU is 22-1 in September at Stambaugh Stadium. The lone loss was a final-play defeat to Liberty in 2008 (31-28).

Game Before MVFC Opener
    The Penguins have done a great job of not "looking ahead" to their Missouri Valley Football Conference opener. In the final contest before its last seven MVFC openers, YSU has won seven times.
    In their previous 16 contests before starting Gateway/Valley Football play throughout the years, the Penguins have won 14 times. The two defeats were in 2002 and 2005.

Liste Earns MVFC Honors
    Senior P Nick Liste was named the MVFC Special Teams Player of the Week after his  impressive performance at Michigan State.
    Liste continued his strong start to the season averaging 50.9 yards per punt on seven kicks in the defeat at Michigan State. Against the Spartans, Liste had punts of 62, 55, 53, 52, 50, 48 and 46 yards in the contest.
    He also had four kickoffs, two of which were touchbacks.
    Through three games, Liste is averaging 49.6 yards a punt. He has nine kicks of 50 yards or more. He leads all of Division I (FBS and FCS) in average through three games.

Ruiz Scores Twice
    Freshman TB Martin Ruiz scored two touchdowns at Michigan State, including the first touchdown reception of his career.
    In the second quarter, he scored on a five-yard run against the Spartans. In the third quarter, he had a nice 34-yard touchdown reception from quarterback Kurt Hess.
    In the game he had a team-high four receptions for 57 yards and rushed a team-high 11 times for 36 yards.

TDs Against the BCS
    In the first five contests against a BCS team (2005-09) in school history the Penguins scored zero touchdowns.
    In the past four games, the Guins have scored eight. Senior QB Kurt Hess is a big reason why having thrown six touchdown passes in those four games.
    Hess had two at Penn State, one at Michigan State in 2011, two at Pittsburgh in 2012 and one at Michigan State last Saturday.
    The rushing scores came from a pair of freshmen - Andre Stubbs at Pitt and Martin Ruiz at Michigan State.

Childs Sets Career High
    Junior cornerback Julius Childs set a new career high with 11 total tackles, including eight solo stops at Michigan State. Childs previous best was nine at North Dakota State last year. It marked the second time in his career he was credited with eight solo stops in a game - Indiana State in 2012.

Efficient Openings
    YSU has scored touchdowns on two of its first three game-opening drives this year. One reason has been solid play by QB Kurt Hess. On opening drives this year, Hess is 8-of-12 for 89 yards and a touchdown (vs. Morehead State). TB Torrian Pace has 33 yards on nine carries and a touchdown (vs. Dayton) as well on the three initial drives of the game.

>400 Yards/27 Points
    The Penguins have had more than 400 yards of total offense in 20 of the 36 games under Head Coach Eric Wolford, including two of three this season (440 and 718). Of his 36 contests, YSU has had more than 300 yards in 31 of them.
    Additionally, the Guins have scored 27-or-more points in 26 of Wolford's 36 games at the helm.

Providing Protection
    In 36 games under Head Coach Eric Wolford, YSU has allowed just 39 sacks. Senior quarterback Kurt Hess has started all of those contests. Last season, YSU allowed a school-record low eight sacks. The Guins ranked seventh in the FCS in fewest sacks allowed per game (0.73).
    The YSU offensive line has surrendered just 23 sacks in the last 26 games as well.
    Only eight times in the 36 games under Wolford and assistant coach Carmen Bricillo have the Guins allowed more than one sack, and four of those came in 2010. In the four contests against BCS foes, the Penguins have allowed a total of two sacks.

Five-Game FCS Win Streak
    The Penguins own a five-game winning streak against FCS foes entering the Duquesne tilt.
    In its last five contests at the FCS level, YSU is averaging 33.2 points per game, 265 yards rushing per game, 192 yards passing per game and 457 yards of total offense per game while scoring 22 TDs. Its opponents are averaging 9.2 points, 86.4 rushing yards, 151.8 passing yards, 238.2 total yards and have scored five touchdowns.
    The most points allowed in that stretch has been 13, which came from Morehead State.

Numbers Under Wolf
    After 36 games, Head Coach Eric Wolford is now 18-18. YSU has won 13 of its last 20 games under Wolford since the mid-point of the 2011 season. A couple of good notes have come from his first 36 games regarding wins and losses:
• YSU is 10-0 when allowing 20 points or fewer
• YSU is 16-1 when allowing 27 points or fewer
• YSU is 17-2 when allowing 33 points or fewer

Hess Back in Rhythm
    Senior QB Kurt Hess has had solid outings the past two contests.
    Playing just the first half in the win over Morehead State, he completed 16-of-19 passes for 282 yards and three touchdowns.
    At Michigan State he was 11-of-27 for 121 yards and a touchdown. In two career games at MSU he completed 28 passes, including two touchdowns with just one interception.
    After throwing two interceptions in the opener, Hess has not turned the ball over in either of the last two contests.

Three Picks in Three Games
    The Penguins intercepted four passes last season and didn't pick off their third until the final game of the season.
    YSU had two interceptions in the season-opening win over Dayton and picked up one against Morehead State.
    Including the final game of the season last year vs. Indiana State, YSU has five total interceptions in the last four games. The Guins had two picks in the first 10 games last year.

New Line Gets Snaps
    The Penguins have started the same offensive line in the first three games. Against Dayton, the group played all 67 snaps together. In the win over Morehead State, 11 players saw at least 18 snaps of action. At Michigan State, the starting five played every offensive snap.
    The five starters in the contests were Kyle Bryant, Fred Herdman, Chris Elkins, Brock Eisenhuth and Andrew Sinko. Sinko, Eisenhuth and Herdman had not started prior to this year. Eisenhuth is starting as a redshirt freshman.

Kickers Start Strong
    Senior P Nick Liste and junior PK Joey Cejudo are off to strong starts this year.
    Senior P Nick Liste is averaging a Division-I leading 49.6 yards per punt on 14 attempts and has 12 touchbacks on 20 kickoffs. Junior PK Joey Cejudo is 14-of-14 on PATs and made a 37-yard field goal against Morehead State and a 34-yard kick at Michigan State.

Red-Zone Success
    YSU has converted at a high success rate in the red zone under Head Coach Eric Wolford.
    In three games this year, YSU is 13-of-14 after going 7-of-8 against Morehead State, 4-for-4 vs. Dayton and scoring twice at Michigan State. YSU has scored touchdowns on 11 of 13 red-zone visits. The lone red-zone failure came when the Guins cracked the Morehead 20-yard line in the final minute and let time expire.
    In his 36 games as coach, the Penguins are an amazing 131-for-150 (87.3 percent) inside the red zone.
    The Penguins were 35-of-43 inside the red-zone in 2012 (81.7 percent). YSU scored 31 touchdowns and made four field goals.
    In 47 visits in 2011, 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.

New Chef in the Kitchen
    The Penguins have had three different 100-yard rushers in the first three games of the post-Jamaine Cook era.
    Against Morehead State, freshman Jody Webb rushed for 122 yards while freshman Martin Ruiz had 117 yards. The duo combined to score five touchdowns.
    In the season opener, senior Adaris Bellamy had 203 yards rushing - more than his entire 2012 total. Senior power back Torrian Pace has 95 yards in the first three contests.
    In their careers, Bellamy has 1,221 yards on 217 carries, Pace has 623 yards on 124 rushes and sophomore Demond Hymes has 93 yards on 17 attempts last year. Hymes has not played this year.

Youthful Defense
    The Guins have just five seniors on defense this year - DE Kyle Sirl, CB Dale Peterman, DT D.J. Moss, LB Dom Rich and LB Ali Cheaib.
    Rich has 13 career starts (two in 2013, eight in 2012 and three in 2010), Sirl has nine (three in 2013 and six in 2012), Moss has five (two this year, two in 2012 and one in 2010), Peterman started all 11 games last year and Cheaib has three (one each in 2011, 2012 and 2013). So in total, the five seniors on defense have started 41 games in their careers.

Balanced Offense
    The Penguins set a school record with 718 yards of total offense in the victory over Morehead State. Amazingly the Guins had 359 yards passing and 359 yards rushing in the contest.
    The previous school record for total offensive yards in a game was 657 yards against Valparaiso in 2011. The 67 points in the contest were the second most in a game in school history. The top three scoring games in school history have all come since 2010 – 77 vs. Valpo (2011), 67 vs. Morehead State (2013) and 63 (2010) vs. Central Connecticut State.

Two Frosh Over 100
    Freshman tailback Jody Webb rushed for 122 yards on 11 carries and fellow freshman Martin Ruiz had 117 yards on just six totes vs. Morehead State. Ruiz averaged 19.5 yard per carry while Webb had 11.1 per rush. The duo combined for five touchdowns as Webb had three and Ruiz had a pair. It is believed to be the first time a pair of freshmen had more than 100 yards rushing in a game in school history. It marked the 32nd time in school history the Guins had multi-100-yard rushers in a game. The last time was in 2011 when Jamaine Cook (162) and Jordan Thompson (135) each went over the mark against Saint Francis (Pa.).

Running the Ball
    The Penguins had 367 yards rushing in the win over Dayton. It was the third-best performance since November 2007. In 2011, YSU had 458 yards rushing against Valparaiso and later in the season had 450 versus Saint Francis (Pa.). YSU's 359-yard effort against Morehead State ranks as the fourth best in that span. Last year's season-high rushing total was 334 vs. Valpo.

Receivers Still Young
    Of the four players to haul in touchdown passes so far this season, three are sophomores and one is a freshman.
    Sophomores Marcel Caver, Andrew Williams and Andre Stubbs had touchdown receptions against Morehead State. At Michigan State, freshman TB Martin Ruiz caught the first touchdown pass of his brief career.
    Of the 41 receptions this year, just six are by seniors. Sophomores rank in the top four spots in leading the team in receptions. They have a combined 25 catches this year.
    Of the 30 grabs by wide receivers this season, only two are by seniors.

Liste Had Two Over 60
    Senior punter Nick Liste had two punts of more than 60 yards against Dayton. Liste had a 64-yard punt in the second quarter and a 62-yard boot in the fourth quarter. Liste also had a 53 yarder in the first quarter.  He averaged 51.0 yards on his five punts. Against Morehead State he had a 59-yard boot with the Guins pinned at their own one-yard line.
    Of his seven punts at Michigan State, five were longer than 50 yards.

Lefty's Few & Far Between
    Preseason All-American senior C Chris Elkins has made a successful debut at the position. Elkins has started the past 29 games, including a stretch of 26 consecutive at right guard, before assuming duties as starting center in 2013.
    Elkins is just one of two FCS centers who are left-handed. The other is Wagner's David Fredrickson, who has started 27 straight games. Note courtesy of Wagner's John Beisser.

Williamses Wreaking Havoc
    Junior LBs Travis Williams and Teven Williams are off to solid starts this year. Travis Williams is second on the team with 17 tackles and ranks first with 2.5 tackles for loss. Teven Williams is third with 15 stops, including 10 solos.
    Teven Williams has been credited with 145 total tackles in his 24-game career while Travis Williams has 136 in 25 contests played.

Stubbs All-Around Player
    Sophomore WR Andre Stubbs has seven receptions, five rushes, seven kickoff returns and three punt returns showing his versatility.
    In his career, Stubbs has 39 kickoff returns, 29 rushes, 29 receptions and 13 punt returns. He has amassed a team-high 1,586 all-purpose yards so far in just 15 games.
    At Michigan State, Stubbs had a game-high 193 all-purpose yards, including 138 on kickoff returns.
    He had a personal-best 206 all-purpose yards last year against Southern Illinois. His 172 all-purpose yards helped lead the Penguins to a 31-17 win at Pittsburgh a year ago.

Five Serve as Captains
    The Penguins will have five captains for the 2013 campaign. Senior quarterback Kurt Hess, senior wide receiver Jelani Berassa, senior center Chris Elkins, junior strong safety Donald D'Alesio and senior linebacker Dom Rich are serving as team captains.
    With his selection, Hess becomes the first three-time captain in school history after serving in 2011 and 2012. Rich is a repeat pick from the 2012 campaign. D'Alesio is the lone non-senior in the group.

Hess Holds Career Marks
    Senior QB Kurt Hess is already the program's record holder for career touchdown passes (57), passing yards per game (199.2), 200-yard passing games (19) and passer rating (141.03).
    He is second in yards (7,173), completion percentage (61.8), TDs responsible for (65) and completions (578) and is third in total offensive yards (7,604).
    In 36 games, Hess has thrown a touchdown pass in 27 games and has 19 multi-TD performances. He has one rushing touchdown in eight different contests.
    He is the first quarterback in school history to pass for more than 2,000 yards in three straight seasons.

Top of the Liste
    Senior punter Nick Liste continues to be a key contributor as punter and kickoff specialist.
    Twice this year he had averaged more than 50 yards in a game - 51.0 vs. Dayton and 50.9 at Michigan State.
    He is now averaging 41.5 yards per punt in his career on 145 kicks. His average ranks first in school history by 0.6 yards ahead of Nick Xides' 40.9 set back in 1982-85.
    This season in just three games, Liste has nine punts of 50-yards or longer. His previous high for a year was eight in 2011.
    Handling kickoff duties, last year he had 18 touchbacks after having just three in 2011. Liste has a dozen so far in this campaign.
    As a junior, he averaged 40.7 yards per punt last season. As a sophomore, he averaged 39.8 yards per punt. As a freshman, he averaged 41.1 yards per kick in 2010.

Three is Still Important
    Under Coach Eric Wolford, YSU is a combined 23-of-28 on field-goal attempts (82.1 percent) since 2010.
    First-year PK Joey Cejudo has made the first two attempts of his career this year.
    Last season, PK David Brown converted from 47 (Indiana State), 31 (Western Illinois), 27 (Valparaiso), 25 (Pittsburgh, Albany) and 20 (ISU) 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.
    YSU was 12-of-14 in 2010.

Standout Coaching Staff
    YSU has one of the best all-around coaching staffs in the FCS and would make some FBS schools green with envy.
    The offensive assistants feature former National Coach-of-the-Year Mark Mangino (tight ends), former FBS head coach Shane Montgomery (offensive coordinator/quarterbacks), veteran play caller Kurt Beathard (wide receivers), fourth-year assistant Carmen Bricillo (offensive line) and newcomer Eric Gallon (tailbacks).
    The defensive staff includes former BCS coordinator Joe Tresey (defensive coordinator/safeties), veteran BCS line coach Tom Sims (defensive line), a member of the Stoops coaching family Ron Stoops (linebackers) and second-year assistant Glenn Davis (cornerbacks).
    Jamie Bryant, a former defensive coordinator in the SEC, serves as the program's special teams coordinator.

12-Game Regular Season
    The Penguins are playing 12 regular-season games for just the second time in school history. The only other time was during the 2003 campaign in which YSU was 5-7.
    However, two of those wins came against non-Division I foes (Edinboro and Slippery Rock). This is first time in school history the Penguins have played 12 Division I regular-season games. YSU has not played a non-Division I team since 2008.

2013 Senior Class
    The Penguins' 2013 senior class features 16 players, eight of which have been with the program for five years. The eight players who have been at YSU for eight years are Jelani Berassa, Fred Herdman, Kurt Hess, Nick Liste, D.J. Moss, Torrian Pace, Dom Rich, Carson Sharbaugh and Kyle Sirl.
    Five of the other seniors, Chris Elkins, Andrew Sinko, Kevin Watts, Adaris Bellamy and Ali Cheaib, were members of Coach Eric Wolford's first recruiting class. Senior OT Kyle Bryant is a transfer from Bowling Green who joined the program in 2012 while Dale Peterman is the lone junior-college transfer senior.

Numbers of Note
• Turnover Margin: Since 1996, the Penguins are 109-24 when they win or tie in the turnover margin. When committing more turnovers, YSU is just 16-53.
Since 1990 YSU is:
• 139-18-2 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points in a game.
• 113-12 when rushing for 200-plus yards.
• 132-22 when scoring 28-or-more points.
• 71-8-1 when holding opponents to fewer than 100 yards rushing in a game.
• 163-11 when leading entering the fourth.
• 74-3-2 when holding opponents to 10 points-or-less in a game.

Up Next: Southern Illinois
    YSU opens Missouri Valley Football Conference play at Southern Illinois on Sept. 28. The contest is set for 7 p.m. in Carbondale, Ill.