Penguins Set Entertain Duquesne This Saturday in Home Opener

YSU vs. Duquesne
YSU vs. Duquesne
Youngstown State vs. Duquesne
Date | Time

Saturday, Sept. 6 | 4 p.m.

Location Stambaugh Stadium | Youngstown, Ohio
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    The 21st-ranked Youngstown State football team plays its home opener on Saturday against Duquesne. Kickoff against the Dukes is set for 4 p.m. The game is available on WKBN 570 AM as well as iHeartRadio and is on tape-delay on MyYTV.
   YSU (0-1) enters its second game of the season coming off a hard-fought 28-17 defeat at Big Ten member Illinois. The Penguins had three leads in the contest, the last of which was 17-14 with just over nine minutes remaining in the contest. However, Illinois scored two touchdowns to rally for an 11-point victory. Sophomore TB Martin Ruiz led the way with a career-best 32 carries for 116 yards and a touchdown. Senior PK Joey Cejudo converted field goals of 29, 33 and 36 yards in the contest. YSU ran 23 more plays than the Illini, had 20 more minutes in time of possession and held Illinois to just 78 yards rushing.
   Duquesne (0-1) trailed Buffalo 21-0 before mounting a rally that saw it go on top 28-24 early in the fourth quarter. However, two Bulls touchdowns help them stave off the upset in earning a 38-28 victory. Duquesne QB Dillion Buechel completed 18-of-37 passes for 337 yards and three touchdowns. WR Chris King was his favorite target hauling in eight passes for 199 yards and two scores. The Dukes finished the 2013 season 7-4 overall and tied for the Northeast Conference title with a 4-2 mark.
   This is the second straight year the two schools separated by about an hour are meeting on the gridiron. Last year, YSU scored the first 24 points, and after Duquesne trimmed the lead to 24-14, the Penguins scored 35 of the final 38 in a 59-17 win over the Dukes at Stambaugh Stadium.
   Ruiz scored three rushing touchdowns while Kurt Hess completed 15-of-25 passes for 292 yards and two scores. The defense played a key role as well forcing four turnovers and holding Duquesne to just 39 yards rushing. YSU led at halftime 24-0 before two Dukes touchdowns in under three minutes closed the gap to 10 points. But the Guins responded with a flourish scoring two touchdowns in the third quarter and adding three in the fourth.
   The Guins continue their homestand next Saturday when they host Butler.

Illinois Notes
• The Penguins had leads of 3-0, 9-7 and 17-14 in the contest. The 17-14 lead was in the fourth quarter. YSU held Illinois to seven points in the first three quarters but surrendered 21 in the fourth period.
• First-time starters were QB Dante Nania, OT Justin Spencer, OG Dylan Colucci, CB Nate Dortch and LB Jaylin Kelly.
• Nania attempted 24 passes and completed 11 in the contest. Entering the game, he had 21 attempts and 12 completions for 182 yards in his career. He threw for 177 yards against the Illini.
• PK Joey Cejudo had the first three field-goal game since Stephen Blose against North Dakota State in 2010. He connected on boots of 29, 33 and 36 yards.
• TB Martin Ruiz had a career-high 32 carries for 116 yards and a touchdown. It was the fifth 100-yard rushing game of his 13-game YSU career. His previous best in carries was 24 at UNI last year.
• Ruiz has scored a touchdown in 10 of his 13 career YSU games. In just 13 games played, he has 16 rushing touchdowns.
• YSU held Illinois to 78 yards rushing on 22 attempts. The Guins forced five three-and-outs and held the Illini to just seven points through three quarters.
• The Penguins held the lead for 14:26 of the contest. YSU's only other lead against a Big Ten foe came at Penn State in 2010. The Penguins maintained an advantage for 15:49 in the first half of that contest.
• The Guins had a major advantage in time of possession (40:01-19:59), total offensive plays (83-60) and rushing yardage (203-78). YSU also did not commit a turnover in the game and held a 17-yard advantage in total offensive yards.
• YSU continued its red-zone success scoring on all four visits. Three scores came on field goals and one came on a touchdown run.

Illinois Recap
    YSU held a 17-14 lead in the fourth quarter, but Illinois closed the contest with two touchdowns in the final 10 minutes to fend off a Penguin upset bid, 28-17, last Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
    YSU led 3-0 after a Joey Cejudo 33-yard field goal on the final play of the first quarter. After Illinois went ahead 7-3, the Guins pulled within 7-6 at halftime on a 29-yard Cejudo kick.
    Cejudo's third field goal in the third quarter gave the Guins a 9-7 lead. After falling behind 14-9 early in the fourth quarter, a Martin Ruiz two-yard scoring run and a two-point conversion by Dante Nania gave YSU a 17-14 lead. But Illinois scored on two touchdown passes in the final nine minutes to pickup the win.

Last Year's Meeting
    YSU scored the contest's first 24 points and after Duquesne trimmed the lead to 24-14, the Penguins scored 35 of the final 38 in a 59-17 win over the Dukes at Stambaugh Stadium.
    Martin Ruiz continued his strong play scoring three rushing touchdowns while Kurt Hess completed 15-of-25 passes for 292 yards and two scores.
    The defense played a key role as well forcing four turnovers and holding Duquesne to just 39 yards rushing.
    YSU led at halftime 24-0 before two Dukes touchdowns in under three minutes closed the gap to 10 points. But the Guins responded with a flourish scoring two touchdowns in the third quarter and adding three in the fourth, including a pick-six by freshman David Rivers to cap off the victory.

Duquesne Update
    The Dukes played their first-ever FBS opponent in school history last Saturday at Buffalo and lost just 38-28 to the Bulls.
    Trailing 21-0, Duquesne answered with three touchdowns and eventually held a 28-24 in the fourth quarter and was ahead with 10 minutes remaining, but Buffalo scored two touchdowns to earn a hard-fought victory.
    Duquesne QB Dillion Buechel completed 18-of-37 passes for 337 yards and three touchdowns. WR Chris King was his favorite target hauling in eight passes for 199 yards and two scores.
    The Dukes finished the 2013 season 7-4 overall and tied for the Northeast Conference title with a 4-2 mark. Duquense won six of its final eight games a year ago.

Non-Conference Home Success
    YSU has won 21 of its last 22 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 9-0 at home against non-conference foes with wins over Albany, Butler, Dayton, Duquesne, Morehead State, Valparaiso (twice), Central Connecticut State and Saint Francis (Pa.).
    In those nine games, the Guins have outscored the opposition 424-131 (an average of 46.1-14.6).

September Home Streak
    The Penguins are 10-0 at home in September since Head Coach Eric Wolford took over the program in 2010 and have won 11 straight overall since the 2009 campaign.
    Since losing to Florida International in overtime on Sept. 11, 2004, YSU is 23-1 in September at Stambaugh Stadium. The lone loss was a final-play defeat to Liberty in 2008 (31-28).

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 28 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 while one came last year against Duquesne. YSU plays Saint Francis (Pa.) later this month.

Home Opener Win Streak
    The Penguins have 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 margin.
    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.

More on Home Openers
    YSU is 49-22-2 all-time in home openers dating back to the program's beginning in 1938. Since moving to Stambaugh Stadium in 1982, YSU is 25-6-1 in the first home game of the season. Since 1989, YSU is 21-1-1 in home openers. It has also won 18 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 Valparaiso, 2012 (10 times)
Margin of Victory: 64 | 77-13 vs. Valparaiso, 2011

Home Opener Win Streak
2013 • YSU 28, Dayton 10
2012 • YSU 59, Valparaiso 0
2011 • YSU 77, Valparaiso 13
2010 • YSU 31, Butler 7
2009 • YSU 38, Austin Peay 21
2008 • YSU 38, Central State 0
2007 • YSU 23, South Dakota State 17
2006 • YSU 51, Slippery Rock 21
2005 • YSU 44, Slippery Rock 14
2004 • YSU 35, Slippery Rock 13
2003 • YSU 35, Edinboro 11
2002 • YSU 27, Clarion 14
2001 • YSU 38, Lock Haven 7
2000 • YSU 24, Slippery Rock 10
1999 • YSU 44, Slippery Rock 14
1998 • YSU 50, Clarion 6
1997 • YSU 33, Slippery Rock 9
1996 • YSU 28, Wofford 0

Ruiz Has Strong Start
    Sophomore TB Martin Ruiz picked up the 2014 season right where he left off, with a strong performance. Ruiz had a career-high 32 carries for 116 yards and a touchdown at Illinois. It was the fifth time in 13 career games that he eclipsed the 100-yard mark and he has now scored a touchdown in 10 games. He is the first Penguin in school history to eclipse the 100-yard mark against a CFP program.
    As a freshman, Ruiz, who was named the Missouri Valley Football Conference Newcomer and Freshman of the Year, set school marks for attempts (192), yards (1,094) and touchdowns by a freshman in 2013.
    Ruiz started seven of the eight MVFC games and rushed for 831 yards on 147 attempts while scoring eight touchdowns in league play.

Familiar Faces
    The Penguins had a combined 12 ball carriers and receivers in the opening game at Illinois. Of those 12, 11 had caught a pass or attempted a rush in their YSU careers, and even more specifically last year.
    Freshman TB Ryan Moore was the lone first-time ball carrier for the Guins in the contest against the Illini. Moore had five carries in his collegiate debut.

Berassa's Best Since 2011
    Senior WR Jelani Berassa had four receptions in the opener after hauling in six for the entire season last year.
    Berassa missed the 2012 season with a knee injury. In 2011, he had at least four catches in a game on five occasions, including a career-best seven in the season finale against Missouri State.

No Turnovers vs. FBS
    For the third time in five games against an FBS/College Football Playoff opponent under Coach Eric Wolford, the Penguins did not turn the ball over. Last year at Michigan State, the Guins lost two fumbles, and in 2011 against the Spartans, YSU threw an interception. The Guins did not have a giveaway against Penn State (2010), Pittsburgh (2012) and Illinois.

Nania Makes Starting Debut
    Junior QB Dante Nania had a strong YSU starting debut rushing for 46 yards on 12 carries while completing 11-of-24 passes for 177 yards. Nania had two big completions for 61 yards to Andrew Williams and 54 yards to Jody Webb against the Illini.
    Prior to his starting debut, he had 12 carrer completions and just 21 attempts.
    His 46 yards rushing were the most by a QB in a game since Brandon Summers had 73 at Northeastern on Sept. 19, 2009. However that final total was helped by a 73-yard TD run.

Bam Was All Over
    Junior LB Dubem Nwadiogbu, aka "Bam", started the season on a strong note being credited with six total tackles, including five solo stops. He also had a TFL, pass breakup and forced a fumble.
    He tied his career high with six tackles and set a new career best with his five solo stops. Nwadiogbu previously had six in the win over UNI in 2012. Of his 33 career tackles, 23 have come in the month of September.

Red-Zone Success vs. FBS
    The Guins went 4-of-4 in the red-zone with a touchdown and three field goals against Illinois. In the five games against FBS foes under Head Coach Eric Wolford, YSU is 9-of-10 in red-zone opportunities. The lone time not scoring in the red zone was at Michigan State in 2011.

TDs Against the FBS
    In the first five contests against a BCS team (2005-09) in school history, the Penguins scored zero touchdowns.
    In the past five games, the Guins have scored nine - all under Head Coach Eric Wolford. Of the nine scores, six have been passes and three have come via the rush.
    The rushing scores came by members of the current team - Andre Stubbs at Pittsburgh (2012) and Martin Ruiz at Michigan State (2013) and Illinois (2014).

TD Pass Inexperience
    For the second straight season the Penguins did not throw a touchdown pass in the season opener. YSU responded last year by throwing at least one touchdown pass in the final 11 games of the campaign on the way to throwing for 23 scores.
    Only one other time in Head Coach Eric Wolford's tenure have the Guins not thrown TD passes in successive games, and that was in 2010 against Butler and Central Connecticut State. YSU won both of those contests.
    Additionally, of the 78 touchdown passes thrown in the past 46 games, 75 were by four-year starter Kurt Hess, one was by Marc Kanetsky (2011), one came from TB Jamaine Cook (2012) and the other was by current fourth-string QB Tanner Garry (2013).

Red-Zone Success
    YSU has converted at a high success rate in the red zone under Head Coach Eric Wolford.
    The Guins were a perfect 4-of-4 in the season opener at Illinois.
    Last year, YSU was 43-of-47 (91.5 percent) in its red-zone opportunities. It marked the second season in his four-year tenure that the Guins converted more than 90 percent of their red-zone opportunities. YSU scored touchdowns on 38 of those red-zone visits. Away from home, the Guins were a perfect 16-of-16 in the red zone.
    In 46 games under Coach Wolford, the Penguins are 165-for-186 (88.7 percent) inside the red zone. YSU has scored 139 touchdowns (95 rushing and 44 passing) while making 26-of-27 field-goal attempts. Of the nine turnovers committed, eight have been interceptions.
    The Penguins were 35-of-43 inside the red-zone in 2012 (81.7 percent). YSU went 42-of-47 in 2011 (89.4 percent), and, in 2010, the Guins converted 41-of-45 chances (91.1 percent).
    Overall, the program has a red-zone score in 52 consecutive games. Under Wolford they have seven red-zone scores in three games.

Cejudo Pulls Double Duty
    PK/P Joey Cejudo is handling both the placekicking and punting duties for YSU this year. He is one of just three Penguins to handle both punting and kicking in the same year since 1970.    The last Penguin to handle both roles as punter and placekicker was Jeff Wilkins in 1992-93. Wilkins was the placekicker in each season throughout his YSU career. Wilkins shared punting duties in 1992 before assuming both placekicker and punting roles in 1993. He turned out to be pretty good playing 14 years in the NFL and winning a Super Bowl title with the St. Louis Rams.
   The only other kicker since 1970 to handle both chores was Chuck Haynali, who did both in three straight seasons - 1976, 1977 and 1978.

Solid Start for Cejudo
    PK/P Joey Cejudo was named the MVFC's Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance at Illinois.
    Cejudo made three field goals and averaged 38.3 yards per punt on seven attempts. Entering the contest Cejudo did not have a punt as a Penguin. He also had four kickoffs, two of which went for touchbacks, and he added a tackle on another kickoff return.

Receivers Grow Up
    The group of Jelani Berassa, Christian Bryan, Andrew Williams, Andre Stubbs have combined for 260 receptions in their YSU careers.
    Berassa is in his sixth year with the program while Bryan, Williams and Stubbs all came in together as part of the 2011 recruiting class.
    Bryan never redshirted and has caught 102 passes in a solid career. He ranks tied for 10th in school history in career receptions. Williams has caught 54 passes and Stubbs has 53 as injuries forced redshirt campaigns for both players in their Penguin careers.
    Berassa missed the 2010 and 2012 seasons with knee injuries. When healthy in 2011, he had 37 of his 51 career catches and eight of his nine career TD hauls.
    Fifth-year tight end Nate Adams has 24 catches, including five touchdowns, as well.

Three is Still Important
   Under Coach Eric Wolford, YSU is a combined 30-of-37 on field-goal attempts (81.1 percent).
   PK Joey Cejudo started the season off on a good note making all three of his attempts at Illinois. He made six-of-eight attempts last season, including a long of 40 yards against Duquesne.
   In 2012, PK David Brown converted six-of-seven attempts, including a long of 47 yards against Indiana State. 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, all of which came by the foot of Stephen Blose.

Up Next: Butler
   The Penguins play the second contest of their three-game homestand against Butler next Saturday at Stambaugh Stadium. Once again, the contest is set to kickoff at 4 p.m.
   The Bulldogs were the Pioneer Football League's FCS playoff representative last year.  Butler opens its 2014 season this Saturday playing at Wittenberg.