Penguins Set to Take on Morehead State For First Time Since 1987

Andre Stubbs
Andre Stubbs

    The No. 25 Youngstown State football team looks to start the season with two straight wins when the Penguins play host to Morehead State on Saturday at Stambaugh Stadium. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. The game is available on WKBN 570 AM/iHeartRadio and carried on MyYTV (tape-delay).
    It is the first meeting between the Penguins and Eagles since 1987 when both were members of the Ohio Valley Conference. A 38-14 win that November gave the Penguins their lone outright OVC title in school history. Morehead State is now a member of the Pioneer Football League while the Guins have been in the Missouri Valley Football Conference since 1997. YSU leads the series 8-6 and has won the two most recent meetings played in Youngstown.
    YSU (1-0) opened the season with a 28-10 win over Dayton last Thursday. It was the Penguins' first win over the Flyers in 10 tries. Senior tailback Adaris Bellamy had 203 yards on 17 carries and a score to lead the way. Senior tailback Torrian Pace had two scores while freshman Martin Ruiz added a touchdown run. Leading 21-10, YSU thwarted a Dayton scoring chance early in the fourth quarter. The Flyers had first-and-goal from the one, but the defense stiffened and an interception by Ali Cheaib on fourth down ended the drive. YSU rushed for 367 yards in the win.
    Morehead State (0-1) dropped a 13-10 decision in its season opener to Pikeville (Ky.). After a scoreless first half, the Eagles led 10-7 late in the fourth quarter before a 23-yard run by Pikeville's Seth Millar proved to be the difference. It was the debut contest for MSU head coach Rob Tenyer. Quarterback Logan Johnson threw for 271 yards in the contest.
    The Penguins have won 21 of their last 22 September contests at Stambaugh Stadium. In non-conference play since 2004, YSU has won 19 of its last 20 games at home. Under Head Coach Eric Wolford, the Penguins are 7-0 vs. non-MVFC foes.
    YSU plays its first road game of the season at Michigan State on Saturday, Sept. 14. The contest is set for 2 p.m. on the Big Ten Network and 570 WKBN.

Dayton Notes
• The Penguins scored a touchdown in every quarter against the Flyers.
• YSU lost the turnover margin 4-2. It was the most turnovers in a game since five against Southern Illinois last year.
• The four turnovers in the win were the most n a victory since 2001. YSU committed five in a season-opening 38-7 win over Lock Haven in 2001.
• Nine Penguins made their starting debuts against the Flyers. The Guins to make their initial start in their career were OT Andrew Sinko, OG Brock Eisenhuth, OG Fred Herdman, TE Nate Adams, CB DeVon McKoy, FS Jameel Smith, DT Emmanual Kromah, DT Octavius Brown and DE Terrell Williams. Of the nine, three were offensive linemen and three were defensive linemen.
• Senior QB Kurt Hess started his 34th consecutive game and fourth straight season opener. Hess and Tom Zetts (2004-07) are the only two quarterbacks to start four season openers.
• TB Adaris Bellamy's 203 rushing yards were the second most by a Penguin in a season opener. P.J. Mays rushed for 226 yards against Lock Haven in the 2001 opener.
• It was YSU's first win in school history in 10 tries against Dayton. The Penguins' 28 points scored were their most in the series.
• The 73 yards passing were the fewest since YSU threw for 43 at Pittsburgh in 2005.
• Senior P Nick Liste had punts of 64 and 62 yards in the contest. It was the third and fourth punt of 60-yards or more in his career. (69 at Missouri State in 2010 and 67 at Western Illinois in 2012).
• Bellamy had a career-long 80-yard run while Andre Stubbs had a career-best 60-yard jaunt.
• YSU has won four straight games dating back to the end of last season.

Dayton Recap
    Three different YSU tailbacks scored touchdowns, and the Penguins defense used a key goal-line stand in a season-opening 28-10 victory over Dayton at Stambaugh Stadium.
    YSU jumped out a to 7-0 lead when Torrian Pace scored on a two-yard run with 8:21 left in the first. The Guins took their initial possession of the season 75 yards on 15 plays.
    The Guins went ahead 14-0 at halftime when Pace scored from eight yards out with 2:33 left in the second quarter.
    Adaris Bellamy scored on a 3-yard run to extend the YSU lead to 21-3 before the Flyers closed within 21-10 late in the third quarter.
    The fourth quarter opened with the Penguins making a key goal-line stand and with 6:58 left, Martin Ruiz's first career touchdown put YSU on top 28-10.

Eagles Scouting Report
    Morehead State opened the season with a 13-10 loss to Pikeville (Ky.), an NAIA school. The game was the debut for MSU Head Coach Rob Tenyer.
    After a scoreless first half for both teams, Pikeville took a 7-0 lead in the third. After a field goal and a 12-yard run by Bob Harden the Eagles went in front 10-7 with just under 10 minutes remaining in the game.
    With 2:48 left, Pikeville's Seth Millar scored on a 23-yard run to make the contest 13-10. MSU had two possessions in the final 2:40, but could not rally in Tenyer's debut.
    The Eagles had 378 yards of total offense in the contest, including 217 through the air against the Bears.

1987 Morehead State Recap
    Youngstown State scored the first 38 points of the contest before securing a 38-14 victory over Morehead State in the last meeting between the two teams in 1987 at Stambaugh Stadium.
    YSU scored 21 points in the first quarter as Trenton Lykes (one yard), Elliott Fedd (15 yards) and Lorenzo Davis (13 yards) all had rushing touchdowns.
    In the second quarter, Mike McGlone scored from two yards out, and John Dowling kicked a 21-yard field goal to put the Guins on top 31-0 at halftime.
    In the third quarter, Rod Love added the Penguins' fifth rushing score of the game on a two-yard run for the final YSU touchdown of the contest.
    The Eagles scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter for the final outcome.
    YSU held MSU to 18 rushing yards while  amassing 276 on 50 carries.
    Eagles quarterback Chris Swartz completed 30-of-59 passes for 384 yards in the contest. He was sacked four times and threw two interceptions.

YSU-MSU History
    The Penguins final contest in the Ohio Valley Conference was also the final matchup in the series against Morehead State. YSU won that game 38-14 at Stambaugh Stadium in 1987 and claimed the conference championship with the win.
    In the 14 meetings, each team has won seven on the field. However, Morehead State was forced to forfeit a win in 1965 later in the season, and that gives the Penguins an 8-6 edge in the all-time series.
    Five of the 14 contests have been decided by a touchdown or less, and the Guins are unbeaten when scoring 28-or-more points (6-0). In Youngstown, Morehead actually holds a 4-3 advantage, but the Penguins have been victorious in the two most recent meetings.

Bellamy Rings in New Year
    Senior TB Adaris Bellamy had more yards rushing in the season opener then he did the entire 2012 campaign. In 2012, Bellamy rushed for 128 yards on 30 carries and did not have a touchdown. His game high was 60 yards at Western Illinois.
    Last Thursday against Dayton, he rushed for 203 yards on 17 carries and had a touchdown. His 203 yards were the most by any Division I back in the first week of the season so after one week, he is the nation's leading rusher.
    Bellamy had 103 yards on 11 carries through three quarters. In the fourth, he had 100 on seven totes, including a career-long 80-yard rush on his final carry of the evening.

Two Picks In One Game
    The Penguins forced two interceptions in the season-opening win over Dayton. Jamarious Boatwright had the second interception of his career while linebacker Ali Cheaib recorded his first.
    Including the final game of the season last year vs. Indiana State, YSU has two interceptions in each of the last two games.
    The Penguins had two interceptions in the first 10 games last year. After week one they have equalled that total.

Making Their Debuts
    The following players made their YSU debuts in the victory over Dayton: DeVon McKoy, Jameel Smith, Octavius Brown, Vince Coleman, Eric Thompson, B.J. Welch, Joey Cejudo, Derek Rivers, Martin Ruiz, Tre' Moore, Jaylin Kelly, Dylan Colucci and Jacob Wood.
    Wood and Ruiz were the only two new players on offense. All others were on defense or special teams.

Numbers Under Wolf
    After 34 games, Head Coach Eric Wolford is now 17-17. YSU has won 11 of its last 17 games under Wolford since the mid-point of the 2011 season. A couple of good notes have come from his first 34 games in regards to wins and losses:
• YSU is 9-0 when allowing 20 points or fewer
• YSU is 15-1 when allowing 27 points or fewer
• YSU is 16-2 when allowing 33 points or fewer

New Line Gets Snaps
    All five starters on the offensive line played every snap against Dayton. Kyle Bryant, Fred Herdman, Chris Elkins, Brock Eisenhuth and Andrew Sinko each played 67 snaps in the game. Herdman, Eisenhuth and Sinko were all making their starting debuts. For Eisenhuth, it was his collegiate debut after redshirting.
    The Guins used some six-man fronts on occasion with offensive tackle Trevor Strickland seeing action.

Non-Conference at Home
    YSU has won 19 of its last 20 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 7-0 at home against non-conference foes with wins over Albany, Butler, Dayton, Valparaiso (twice), Central Connecticut State and Saint Francis (Pa.). In those seven games, the Guins have outscored the opposition 298-101 (an average of 42.6-14.4).

September Home Streak
    The Penguins are 8-0 at home in September since Head Coach Eric Wolford took over the program in 2010 and have won nine straight overall. Since losing to Florida International on Sept. 11, 2004, YSU is 21-1 in September at Stambaugh Stadium. The lone loss was a final-play defeat to Liberty in 2008 (31-28).

>400 Yards Total Offense
    The Penguins had 440 yards of total offense in the win over Dayton. It marked the 19th time in 34 games under Head Coach Eric Wolford that the Penguins amassed more than 400 yards of total offense in a game. Of his 34 contests, YSU has more than 300 yards in 30 of them.

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.). Last year's season-high rushing total was 334 vs. Valpo.

New Chef in the Kitchen
    The Penguins had three tailbacks rush for more than 45 yards in the first game of the post-Jamaine Cook era.
    Veteran Adaris Bellamy had 203 - more than his entire 2012 total - senior Torrian Pace had 47 and true freshman Martin Ruiz finished with 45. The trio combined for 39 carries, 295 yards and four touchdowns against the Flyers.
    In their careers, Bellamy has 1,221 yards on 217 carries, Pace has 570 yards on 111 rushes and sophomore Demond Hymes has 93 yards on 17 attempts last year.

Liste Has 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. Three of his five kickoffs were touchbacks as well.
Hess Moves Into Second
    In last Thursday's game, quarterback Kurt Hess moved into second place in career completions. Hess has completed 551 of 889 passes in his Penguin career for 6,770 yards. His 53 touchdown passes are already a school record.

Clamping Down on the Run
    YSU picked up right where it left off in stopping the run. Dayton had just 75 yards on 29 attempts. Of the 75, 32 were by agile quarterback Will Bardo.
    YSU ranked fifth nationally in the FCS against the run in 2012, holding opponents to 95 yards per contest. The only four teams to finish in front of the Penguins were Harvard, Montana, North Carolina A&T and North Dakota State. The last time the Penguins had allowed fewer than a 100-yard average was 1994.

Providing Protection
    In 34 games under Head Coach Eric Wolford, YSU has allowed just 33 sacks. Conversely, 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 20 sacks in the last 24 games as well.
    Only seven times in the 34 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 contests against Pittsburgh, Michigan State and Penn State, the Penguins allowed a total of one sack (PSU).

Lefty's Few & Far Between
    Preseason All-American senior C Chris Elkins made his first start at the position versus Dayton. Elkins has started the past 27 games, including each game the last two years at right guard.
    Elkins is just one of two FCS centers who are left-handed. The other is Wagner's David Fredrickson, who has started 25 straight games. Note courtesy of Wagner's John Beisser.

Bryan Is Mr. Dependable
    Junior 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 23 career games played, Bryan has caught a touchdown pass in nine of them. He has started every game as well.
    He had a 23-yard reception in the win over Dayton last Thursday.

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 12 career starts (one in 2013, eight in 2012 and three in 2010), Sirl has seven (one in 2013 and six in 2012), Moss has three (two in 2012 and one in 2010), Peterman started all 11 games last year and Cheaib has two (one each in 2011 and 2012). So in total, the five seniors on defense have started 35 games in their careers. Moss and Peterman did not play against Dayton.

Five to Serve as Captains
    The Penguins will have five captains for the 2013 campaign. Head Coach Eric Wolford announced that quarterback Kurt Hess, wide receiver Jelani Berassa, center Chris Elkins, strong safety Donald D'Alesio and linebacker Dom Rich have been named 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.

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.

Red-Zone Success
    YSU has converted at a high success rate in the red zone under Head Coach Eric Wolford.
    Against Dayton, the Guins had four red-zone opportunities and scored four touchdowns.
    The Penguins were 35-of-43 inside the red-zone last season (81.7 percent). YSU scored 31 touchdowns and made four field goals in those trips.
    In his 34 games as coach, the Penguins are 122-for-140 (87.1 percent) inside the red zone. 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.

Hess Holds Career Marks
    Senior QB Kurt Hess is already the program's record holder for career touchdown passes (53), passing yards per game (199.1), 200-yard passing games (18) and passer rating (140.0).
    He is second in yards (6,770), completion percentage (62.0), TDs responsible for (61) and completions (551) and is third in total offensive yards (7,202).
    In 34 games, Hess has thrown a touchdown pass in 25 games and has 18 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.
    Against Dayton he averaged 51 yards per punt with boots of 64, 62 and 53, and three of his kickoffs went for touchbacks.
    Handling kickoff duties, last year he had 18 touchbacks after having just three in 2011. He averaged 40.7 yards per punt last season.
    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 131 career punts for an average of 40.6 per boot. He has 18 kicks of 50 yards or longer in his three seasons as punter.

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.

Home Opener Win Streak
    The Penguins have now won 18 straight home openers dating back to the 1995 campaign when it lost to Stephen F. Austin. In the 18 games since then, YSU has outscored its opponents by an impressive 703-187.
    Since then the Penguins have pitched three 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 13 occasions, including a high of 77 versus Valparaiso in 2011.

Schedule Oddity
    The last time the Penguins played their first two games at home was 2006. Conversely, the last time they played their first two conference games on the road was 2002.
    YSU opens with Dayton and Morehead State at home and plays at Southern Illinois and Indiana State in conference play this year.

Returning Starters From '12
    On offense, YSU returns starters Kurt Hess (QB), Kyle Bryant (OT), Chris Elkins (C), Andrew Williams (WR), Andre Stubbs (WR), Christian Bryan (WR). Bryan, Hess and Elkins started all 11 games.
    On defense, returning starters include Teven Williams (LB), Travis Williams (LB), Dom Rich (LB), Julius Childs (CB), Dale Peterman (CB) and Kyle Sirl (DE). Rich and Childs are the two returning defensive players who started all 11 games last season.
    Punter Nick Liste, long snapper Nathan Gibbs and holder Dante Nania all return for that unit.

Three is Still Important
    In the three seasons under Coach Eric Wolford, YSU is a combined 21-of-26 on field-goal attempts (80.7 percent).
    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.

Receivers Grow Up
    The past two seasons the Penguins have relied primarily on freshmen and sophomores at the wide-receiver spot. In 2013, that group will be one of the most experienced on the roster.
    Senior Jelani Berassa returns from a knee injury that kept him out last year. Berassa, who had 37 catches, including eight TDs, in 2011, was named a team captain. He did not play against Dayton.
    Junior Christian Bryan has started every game the past two seasons. He has 77 career receptions for 1,117 yards and nine touchdowns.
    Senior Kevin Watts has 45 career catches while sophomore Andrew Williams had 27 a year ago. Williams had 24 of those in the final seven games of the year.
    YSU returns all 99 catches (115 if you include wide receiver/now tight end Kintrell Disher) from last year's squad. In fact, from the 2011 team, 120 of the 139 grabs are back from that year as well.

Single Digits in Fumbles
    The Guins lost six fumbles last season and have given up single digits in fumbles for eight straight seasons.
    In the season opener, YSU lost two fumbles in the win over Dayton. The last time the Guins lost two fumbles in a game was three last year against Southern Illinois.
    In 2011, YSU lost five fumbles while in 2010, the Penguins lost nine. 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 eight-year streak, the Guins had committed single digits in fumbles lost in consecutive years just twice in school history (1986-87 and 1958-59).

Line Features Variety
    The Penguins offensive line features four seniors, two juniors, five redshirt freshmen and four true freshmen. Of the 15 players, only Chris Elkins and Kyle Bryant have started multiple games.
    Against Dayton last Thursday, Fred Herdman, Brock Eisenhuth and Andrew Sinko made their first career starts. For Eisenhuth it was his first career game. Elkins made his first career start at center in the contest after starting the previous 26 at guard. Reserve lineman Stephen Page started a contest last year in place of an injured Mark Pratt.

Defense Has Mainstays
    Three members of the Penguins defense have more than 100 career tackles. Junior LB Teven Williams has 138 tackles, junior LB Travis Williams has 125 and Donald D'Alesio has been credited with 118.
    Three others have at least 44 tackles. Senior LB Ali Cheaib has 73, Julius Childs has 55 and Dom Rich has 44.
    This group of six players has played in 136 games and recorded 553 total stops.

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.

President Debut
    Dr. Randy J. Dunn became the new president at Youngstown State University in July. With Dr. Dunn's appointment, it marks the seventh time that a new president has taken office since the Penguins have played football.
    YSU is now 5-2 in the new President's first game at the school after beating Dayton in the opener last week. The Penguins picked up wins in 1966, 1984, 1992, 2000 and 2013. The defeats came in 1973 and 2010 - to Dayton and Penn State.

Numbers of Note
• Turnover Margin: Since 1996, the Penguins are 108-24 when they win or tie in the turnover margin. When committing more turnovers, YSU is just 16-52.
Since 1990 YSU is:
• 138-18-2 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points in a game.
• 112-12 when rushing for 200-plus yards.
• 131-22 when scoring 28-or-more points.
• 71-8-1 when holding opponents to fewer than 100 yards rushing in a game.
• 162-11 when leading entering the fourth.
• 74-3-2 when holding opponents to 10 points-or-less in a game.

Up Next: Michigan State
    YSU plays its first road game of the season travelling to Michigan State. Kickoff at Spartan Stadium is set for 2 p.m. and the game will be televised on the Big Ten Network and carried live on 570 WKBN.
    The Penguins lost a 28-6 contest to the Spartans in 2011. YSU trailed 14-6 in the fourth quarter before two MSU touchdowns put the game away.