Wells, Berassa Lead Football to 44-13 Win Over Butler

Wells, Berassa Lead Football to 44-13 Win Over Butler

Freshman quarterback Hunter Wells threw for 297 yards with four touchdown passes and senior Jelani Berassa caught six passes for a career-high 167 yards and three TDs to lead the Youngstown State football team to a 44-13 win over Butler on Saturday at Stambaugh Stadium.

With the win, the Penguins improve to 2-1 while the Bulldogs fall to 1-1

Wells is just the third true freshman quarterback since 1981 to win starting debut and just the second true freshman to throw for four touchdowns in a contest. The last freshman quarterback to throw four touchdowns was Denny Klembara in 1968.

The last Youngstown State quarterback to throw four touchdown passes in a game was Kurt Hess in 2013.

Berassa caught three of Wells' scoring strikes - all in the second quarter - from  25, 72 and 26 yards. He became the first player since 1979 to catch three touchdown passes in a game.

Dubem Nwadiogbu led the defense with a career-high 11 tackles, including seven solo stops and recovered a fumble, and Julius Childs had 11 tackles with 10 solo tackles. The Penguins allowed just 125 yards rushing on 32 carries for an average of 3.9 yards per carry.

Martin Ruiz rushed for 108 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown. It marks the seventh 100-yard game of his career and the third this season.

Butler's Matt Shiltz completed 21-of-31 passes for 221 yards and a touchdown and also rushed for 75 yards.

Wells and Berassa connected on three second-quarter touchdowns in a nine-minute span to turn a 10-10 tie in to a 31-13 halftime advantage.

With the game tied a 10-10, the Penguins' defense forced a Bulldog punt and B.J. Welch partially blocked the kick to set the Penguins at the Butler 35 with 14:08 left in second quarter.

Four plays later, Wells threw his first career touchdown pass to Berassa with 12:25 left in the second to give the Penguins their first lead of the game, 17-10.

Butler answered the Penguins touchdown with Jon Treloar's second field goal of the game to cut the lead down to 17-13 with 7:48 left in the second quarter.

On very first play on the ensuing possession, Wells hit Berassa on a career-long 72-yard scoring strike to push the Penguins advantage to 24-13.

Wells and Berassa connected for the third time, this time from 26-yards out, to extend the YSU lead to 31-13 with 3:13 left before the half.

On their second possession of the second half, the Penguins took over at their own five and marched 77 yards in 15 plays, but had to settle for a 20-yard field goal by Joey Cejudo to push the lead to 34-13 with 3:56 left in the third.

Wells connected on his fourth touchdown of the game with 10:39 left in the fourth quarter when he hit tight end Nate Adams from two-yards out to give the Penguins a 41-13 lead.

Cejudo added his third field goal of the game to give the Penguins a 44-13 lead with two minutes left in the game.

Butler took the game's opening drive 75 yards in nine plays to take a 7-0 lead with 11 minutes left in the first quarter.

The Bulldogs attempted an on-side kick but Childs recovered the ball at the YSU 42. The Penguins drove to the Butler 10, but had to settle for a 27-yard field goal by Cejudo to trim the lead to 7-3 with 8:01 to go.

Butler marched 71 yards in 12 plays and took a 10-3 lead on a 22-yard field goal by Treloar with 3:10 left in the first.

On the first play of the second quarter, Ruiz plunged in from one-yard to tie the game at 10-10. Ruiz, who posted his fourth touchdown of the season, capped a seven-play, 61-yard drive.

The Penguins close out their three-game homestand against Saint Francis (Pa.), Saturday, Sept. 20, at 7 p.m. at Stambaugh Stadium.