Penguins Back on Road With Contest Against Sycamores

Penguins Back on Road With Contest Against Sycamores

    The 22nd-ranked Youngstown State football team is on the road for the second consecutive Saturday visiting Indiana State. Kickoff for the contest at Memorial Stadium in Terre Haute, Ind., is set for 3 p.m. The game is available on WKBN 570 AM,iHeartRadio, locally on WBCB TV.
    YSU (4-1, 1-0) is coming off one of its best come-from-behind victories in years. The Penguins scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to overcome a 27-14 deficit and knock off Southern Illinois 28-27 last Saturday night. Senior QB Kurt Hess threw four touchdown passes against the Salukis, including a one-yard toss to Carson Sharbaugh with 1:50 remaining. The score and Joey Cejudo's extra-point conversion turned out the be the difference in the contest. YSU took a 14-7 lead before SIU scored 20 straight points to go ahead 27-14 just before halftime.
    Indiana State (1-3, 0-0) also played a one-point decision last Saturday night losing 38-37 at Tennessee Tech. The Sycamores trailed 24-12 at halftime and 31-19 in the third quarter before grabbing a 37-31 lead early in the fourth quarter. After ISU had a 40-yard field goal blocked with 5:40 left, the Golden Eagles marched 77 yards in 11 plays and tied the game on a two-yard pass from Jared Davis to Zack Ziegler with 1:11 left. The extra-point by Zach Sharp proved to be the final margin. The Sycamores had 554 yards of total offense, including 201 on the ground by tailback Shakir Bell.
    The Penguins own a 19-3 advantage in the series following last season's 27-6 win over Indiana State in the season finale at Stambaugh Stadium. That contest was tied at six at halftime before three second-half Penguin touchdowns proved to be the difference. YSU had won 13 straight and 18 of 19 before the Sycamores earned victories in 2010 and 2011.
    In contests played at Memorial Stadium, the Guins are 9-1 all-time with their lone loss coming in their last visit in 2011, 37-35. YSU has scored at least 24 points in each of the past 14 meetings.
    After playing two straight on the road, the Penguins return home for two games starting with an Oct. 12 contest against Illinois State. Kickoff at Stambaugh Stadium is set for 7 p.m.

Southern Illinois Notes
• The Penguins overcame a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit for the first time since November 2000 vs. Hofstra. YSU trailed that game 28-14 in the fourth quarter before rallying for a 42-35 win in overtime.
• The last one-point win came on Oct. 13, 2007 (23-22 over Southern Utah) while the last one-point victory on the road was Oct. 7, 1989 at Indiana State (20-19).
• YSU won its Missouri Valley Football Conference opener for the fifth straight year and is 14-3 in 17 seasons in the league.
• Senior QB Kurt Hess had the fifth four-touchdown pass performance of his career. He has now thrown for 63 touchdown passes. In four games against SIU, Hess threw nine touchdown passes.
• Hess made his 38th consecutive start at quarterback.
• The defense had a spectacular turnaround. After allowing 27 points and 332 yards in the first half, the Guins did not allow a point and surrendered only 120 yards in the second.
• YSU rushed for 132 yards in the game, SIU had been allowing just 85 a contest so far this season.
• Freshman TB Martin Ruiz had 87 yards on 20 carries in his MVFC debut. Ruiz rushed for 46 yards on eight carries in the fourth quarter.
• Senior TE Carson Sharbaugh entered the game with no career rushes. By the time the night was done he had six carries for 17 yards. Of his six carries, five resulted in first downs.
• Junior SS Donald D'Alesio and junior LB Teven Williams officially had 13 total tackles. Both were career-high marks for the duo.

Southern Illinois Recap
    YSU scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns to overcome a 13-point deficit and defeat Southern Illinois 28-27 on Saturday night at Saluki Stadium in Carbondale.
    Senior QB Kurt Hess threw four touchdown passes in the win while Andre Stubbs caught two and Nate Adams and Carson Sharbaugh each caught one.
    Trailing 27-14 in the fourth quarter, Hess threw a 15-yard scoring toss to Adams with 9:30 left.
    Behind 27-21, the Guins moved the ball 83 yards in 16 plays and tied the game when Hess found Sharbaugh on a one-yard score on fourth-and-goal. Joey Cejudo's extra-point gave the Penguins a 28-27 lead.
    SIU had one last possession and advanced to the Penguins' 41-yard line. However, Teven Williams stripped the ball from SIU's MyCole Pruitt and Donald D'Alesio recovered it at the YSU 40 with just 43 seconds remaining to seal the victory.

Last Meeting vs. Indiana State
    The Penguins scored the final 21 points to end the season on a positive note in a 27-6 victory over 18th-ranked Indiana State at Stambaugh Stadium last November.
    With the contest tied at six, Kurt Hess found Andrew Williams for a 30-yard touchdown late in the third period.
    In the fourth quarter, Jamaine Cook found paydirt from 24 yards out in his final home game. Later in the period, Hess again found Williams, this time from 43 yards out for the final margin.
    YSU's defense held a powerful Sycamore ground game to just 61 yards on 23 carries.  The Penguins also intercepted two passes in the contest, a season high. Both turnovers came in the second half.
    Meanwhile, Hess had one of his best games of the season completing 20-of-28 passes for 248 yards and two scores.
    In his final game, Cook rushed for 124 yards on 28 carries and eclipsed the 4,000-yard mark for rushing yards in a career.

Series History
    The Penguins own a 19-3 advantage in the series following last season's 27-6 win over Indiana State in the season finale at Stambaugh Stadium. That contest was tied at six at halftime before three second-half Penguin touchdowns proved to be the difference.
    YSU had won 13 straight and 18 of 19 before the Sycamores earned victories in 2010 and 2011. Those two wins were by a combined eight points.
    In contests played at Memorial Stadium, the Guins are 9-1 all-time with their lone loss coming in their last visit in 2011, 37-35.
    YSU has scored at least 24 points in each of the past 14 meetings. Only twice in the 22 meetings have the Guins been held to 17 points or fewer.

In the Squeakers
    The Penguins' 28-27 win over Southern Illinois was their first one-point victory against a conference opponent since joining the Missouri Valley Football Conference in 1997. YSU had dropped two one-point decisions to UNI  (2007 and 2008) and a one-point contest to the Salukis (2000). The last one-point win was a 23-22 triumph over Southern Utah (Oct. 13, 2007). The Guins are 24-9 all-time in one-point contests.

2-0 League Start
    The Guins last started MVFC play 2-0 in 2006 when they went on to win their first three contests. In the previous 16 years, YSU has opened Valley play 2-0 on four previous occasions - 1999, 2000, 2005 and 2006. It was a combined 20-6 in league play those years.

Going For Five
    The Penguins are on a four-game conference win streak dating back to November of last year. YSU  closed out the 2012 campaign winning their final three conference games - South Dakota, at Western Illinois, Indiana State. Last Saturday, the Guins opened league play with a 28-27 win at Southern Illinois.
    The last time the Penguins won five straight league games was the final game of the 1998 campaign and the first four of the 1999 slate. That is the only time YSU has won five consecutive league games at any point in their MVFC tenure since 1997.

Hess Nears Yardage Record
    Senior quarterback Kurt Hess is just six yards shy of breaking the school record for career passing yards. Hess has 7,723 yards and trails four-year starter Tom Zetts, who finished his career with 7,728 yards.
    Hess is just 21 yards shy of Zetts' career total offensive yards record of 8,277, 36 completions shy of Zetts' mark of 654 and 97 attempts behind Zetts' 1,094. Hess has 8,206 yards of total offense, 618 completions and 654 attempts in his career as a four-year starter.
    Hess does own school marks with 63 career touchdown passes, 21 200-yard passing games, 203.2 passing yards per game, a passer rating at 142.89 and TDs responsible for with 71. He had the fifth four-touchdown pass performance of his career in the win at Southern Illinois.

Secret Weapon
    Senior TE Carson Sharbaugh had six rushes for 17 yards and caught a touchdown pass in the win at Southern Illinois.
    Entering the contest at SIU, Sharbaugh did not have a career rushing attempt. The wrinkle proved to be a spark as Sharbaugh picked up a first down (all on third-down carries) on five of six attempts.
    He capped off the game by catching a one-yard pass from Kurt Hess with 1:50 left that tied the game. It was the third receiving touchdown of his career.

Luck 13's
    Junior SS Donald D'Alesio and junior LB Teven Williams each finished with 13 total tackles in the win at Southern Illinois after some post-game review.
    The duo both had career highs as far as tackle numbers and teamed up on the game-clinching play in the fourth quarter. Williams stripped the football from SIU TE MyCole Pruitt and D'Alesio recovered it to clinch the win.
    D'Alesio's previous top game was 11 tackles at Missouri State in 2010 while Williams had a high of 10 twice in previously in his career.

Ruiz Making Big Impact
    Freshman TB Martin Ruiz has scored eight touchdowns - seven rushing and one receiving - in five games so far this season. Ruiz has moved up the depth chart and sits as the No. 2 tailback behind fifth-year senior Torrian Pace.
    Ruiz had a rushing touchdown in each of the first four games. In the opener he had 45 yards on 11 attempts against Dayton. Against Morehead State he had 117 yards on just six carries and had two scores. At Michigan State he caught and rushed for a touchdown. Against Duquesne he rushed for 65 yards on 17 carries and scored three times. At Southern Illinois, he had 87 yards on a career-high 20 carries and caught three passes for 50 yards.

Adams Getting Involved
    Junior TE Nate Adams has had eight receptions for 146 yards and two touchdowns in the past two games. In the first three games of the year he caught two passes for 10 yards.
    At Southern Illinois he caught a 15-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. Against the Salukis he had four receptions for 38 yards. In the contest before he had a career-high 108 yards on four catches against Duquesne. He had catches of 52, 23, 20 and 13 yards vs. the Dukes.
    YSU is now 4-0 when Adams hauls in a touchdown reception during his career. He had a three-yard touchdown catch against South Dakota and a 25-yard score vs. UNI in 2012.

Stubbs Factors In
    Sophomore WR Andre Stubbs had two touchdown receptions for the first time in his career at SIU. Stubbs now has three touchdown receptions for the season. Earlier this year he caught a scoring toss against Morehead State. He had two first-half touchdown grabs (18 and two yards) against the Salukis. He had one last year at Pittsburgh in the season opener.

Final Drive Shows Moxy
    The Penguins' final drive of the contest could be one to remember down the road.
    Trailing 27-21 with 7:57 remaining, YSU took over at its 17-yard line. Just 1:01 later, the Penguins faced a 3rd-and-3 from their own 36. TB Martin Ruiz burst outside for a 19-yard gain to SIU's 45-yard line.
    Two plays later, YSU had a first down at the Salukis' 31. Kurt Hess threw a four-yard pass to Christian Bryan then had two incompletions. On fourth down, Hess could not find a receiver and scrambled and dove out of bounds at the SIU 20 for a seven-yard gain and a first down.
    YSU had first-and-goal at the nine and on three rushing plays moved the ball to the one. On fourth down, Hess found tight end Carson Sharbaugh in the corner of the end zone for a touchdown.

Defensive Turnaround
    YSU's defense helped turn the tide of the Southern Illinois contest in the second half. After allowing 27 points and 332 yards and 8-of-9 on third-down conversions in the first half, the Penguins shut out the Salukis in the second half allowing just 120 yards and held on three-of-six third-down conversion chances.
    SIU had 278 yards passing in the first half, but only 70 in the second half, 49 of which came on three plays.

Kickers Start Strong
    Senior P Nick Liste and junior PK Joey Cejudo are off to strong starts this year. Both have already been honored as MVFC Specialists of the Week (Cejudo vs. Morehead State and Liste vs. Michigan State).
    Liste ranks sixth in the FCS averaging 45.3 yards per punt on 23 attempts. As the kickoff specialist, he has 20 touchbacks in 35 kicks.
    Against Michigan State, Liste had kicks of 55, 62, 52, 53 46, 50 and 48 for an average of 52.3 in the contest.
    Cejudo has been solid in four games converting all 24 PAT tries and making field goals from 34, 37 and 40 yards. He made a season-long 40-yarder in the first quarter vs. Duquesne.

>400 Yards/27 Points
    The Penguins have had more than 400 yards of total offense in 21 of the 38 games under Head Coach Eric Wolford. YSU has eclipsed the mark in three of five games this season. Of his 38 contests, YSU has had more than 300 yards in 33 of them.
    Additionally, the Guins have scored 27-or-more points in 28 of Wolford's 38 games at the helm. YSU had 28 points and 390 yards at Southern Illinois last time out.

Seven-Game FCS Win Streak
    YSU owns a seven-game winning streak against FCS foes entering the Indiana State tilt this Saturday.
    In its last seven contests at the FCS level, YSU is averaging 36.1 points per game, 232.8 yards rushing per game, 220.8 yards passing per game and 453.7 yards of total offense per game while scoring 34 TDs. Its opponents are averaging 12.8 points, 85 rushing yards, 211.1 passing yards, 296.1 total yards and have scored 11 touchdowns.
    The most points allowed in that stretch has been 27, which came from Southern Illinois last Saturday.
    In the first quarter of those games, YSU has outscored opponents 39-7. In the fourth the Guins own a 49-10 advantage.

Hess Back in Rhythm
    Senior QB Kurt Hess has had solid outings the past four contests.
    In his last four games, Hess is 67-of-108 for 953 yards and 10 touchdowns. He has a passing efficiency of 166.71,
    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.
    In the win over Duquesne, he was 15-of-25 for 292 yards and two touchdowns. The 292 yards marked the third-highest total he has thrown for in his career.
    At SIU he completed 25-of-37 passes for 258 yards and four scores.

New Chefs in the Kitchen
    The Penguins have had three different 100-yard rushers in the first five 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.
    Against Dayton, senior Adaris Bellamy had 203 yards rushing - more than his entire 2012 total. Senior tailback Torrian Pace has 168 yards in the first five contests.
    In their careers, Bellamy has 1,221 yards on 217 carries, Pace has 691 yards on 143 rushes and sophomore Demond Hymes has 100 yards on 19 attempts. Ruiz has 350 on 66 attempts so far this season.

Four-Takeaway Win Streak
    YSU has won 19 straight games when it forces at least four turnovers after forcing four in the win over Duquesne. The last loss was against UNI in 2006. Since 2006, the Guins are 21-1 when they have at least four takeaways in a game. Last year, the single-game high was two turnovers forced, which came on four occasions.

Red-Zone Success
    YSU has converted at a high success rate in the red zone under Head Coach Eric Wolford.
    In five games this year, YSU is 22-of-24 after going 4-for-4 vs. Dayton, 7-of-8 against Morehead State, 2-of-2 at Michigan State, 5-of-6 vs. Duquesne and 4-of-4 at Southern Illinois. YSU has scored touchdowns on 20 of those 24 red-zone visits.
    In his 38 games as coach, the Penguins are an amazing 140-for-160 (87.5 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.

Providing Protection
    In 38 games under Head Coach Eric Wolford, YSU has allowed just 40 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 24 sacks in the last 28 games as well.
    Only eight times 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.

Four Picks in Five Games
    The Penguins have equalled last year's total of four interceptions in just five games this season. The defense had four INTs last year, two of which came in the final quarter of the final game.
    So far this season, the Guins had two interceptions against Dayton, one vs. Morehead State and one against Duquesne. Against both the Dukes and Eagles, the Penguins dropped two would-be picks.
    Including the final game of the season last year vs. Indiana State, YSU has six interceptions in the last six games. The Guins had two picks in the first 10 games a year ago.

Numbers Under Wolf
    After 38 games, Head Coach Eric Wolford is now 20-18. YSU has won 15 of its last 22 games under Wolford since the mid-point of the 2011 season. A couple of good notes have come from his first 38 games regarding wins and losses:
• YSU is 11-0 when allowing 20 points or fewer
• YSU is 18-1 when allowing 27 points or fewer
• YSU is 19-2 when allowing 33 points or fewer

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 averaging 41.4 yards per punt in his career on 154 kicks. His average ranks first in school history by 0.5 yards ahead of Nick Xides' 40.9 set back in 1982-85.
    This season in just four games, Liste has 10 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 20 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.

New Face on the Line
    The Penguins had a change in the offensive lineup with sophomore Trevor Strickland starting at left tackle at Southern Illinois in place of senior Kyle Bryant.
    It was the first start of Strickland's career and made him the fourth offensive lineman this year to start a game for the first time.
    First-time starters Andrew Sinko, Fred Herdman and Brock Eisenhuth had started the first five games of the campaign. Senior Chris Elkins, a former guard, has started at center in every game so far this year.
    Sinko and Herdman are seniors while Eisenhuth is just a redshirt freshman.

Three is Still Important
    Under Coach Eric Wolford, YSU is a combined 24-of-29 on field-goal attempts (82.7 percent) since 2010.
    First-year PK Joey Cejudo has made the first three attempts of his career this year, including a 40-yard field goal against Duquesne.
    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.

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 high was 334 vs. Valpo.

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.

Lefties Few & Far Between
    Preseason All-American senior C Chris Elkins has made a successful debut at the position. Elkins has started the past 31 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 29 straight games. Note courtesy of Wagner's John Beisser.

Big Plays In Passing Game
    The Penguins had two touchdown passes longer than 50 yards in the win over Duquesne. Kurt Hess connected with Marcel Caver on a 55-yard toss and Nate Adams on a 52-yard score. The Penguins did not have a pass play longer than 45 yards last season.
    In 2011, big plays in the passing game helped spark the offense. Hess had a 70-yard touchdown pass to Christian Bryan, a 69-yard strike to Jelani Berassa and 52-yard toss to Will Shaw.

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.

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. And all five have not been on the field together this season.
    Peterman, Moss and Rich have missed a game because of injury at some point this year.
    Sirl is the lone senior to start all five games this year while Cheaib is the only other senior to play in every game.
    Peterman has started the past two games,  Rich has started three times and Moss started twice this year. Cheaib has been in the starting lineup twice.
    Rich has 14 career starts (three in 2013, eight in 2012 and three in 2010), Sirl has 11 (five in 2013 and six in 2012), Peterman has 13 (11 in 2012 and two this year), Moss has five (two this year, two in 2012 and one in 2010),  and Cheaib has four (one each in 2011, 2012 and two in 2013). So in total, the five seniors on defense have started 47 games in their careers.

Stubbs All-Around Player
    Sophomore WR Andre Stubbs has 14 receptions, 13 kickoff returns, six rushes and three punt returns showing his versatility.
    In his career, Stubbs has 45 kickoff returns, 35 receptions, 20 rushes and 13 punt returns. He has amassed a team-high 1,798 all-purpose yards so far in just 17 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.

Numbers of Note
• Turnover Margin: Since 1996, the Penguins are 111-24 when they win or tie in the turnover margin. When committing more turnovers, YSU is just 16-53.
Since 1990 YSU is:
• 140-18-2 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points in a game.
• 113-12 when rushing for 200-plus yards.
• 134-22 when scoring 28-or-more points.
• 72-8-1 when holding opponents to fewer than 100 yards rushing in a game.
• 164-11 when leading entering the fourth.
• 74-3-2 when holding opponents to 10 points-or-less in a game.

Up Next: Illinois State
    YSU returns home on Oct. 12 to play host to Illinois State. Kickoff at Stambaugh Stadium is set for 7 p.m.