The 11th-ranked Youngstown State football team scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns to overcome a 10-point deficit and knock off South Dakota, 28-17, on a cold and blustery day on Saturday afternoon at Stambaugh Stadium.
With the win, the Penguins improve to 7-2 overall and 4-1 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference (MVFC) while South Dakota falls to 2-7 overall and 0-5 in the MVFC.
Sophomore tailback Martin Ruiz rushed for a career-best 185 yards on 28 carries with a touchdown and classmate Jody Webb ran for 128 yards on just 11 carries with touchdown rushes of 34 and 60 yards. Webb has scored touchdowns in six straight games.
The last time two YSU running backs rushed for more than 100 in a game was in 2013 when Webb and Ruiz had 121 and 117 yards, respectively, against Morehead State.
Sophomore defensive end Derek Rivers tied the YSU single-game record with four sacks and the defensive unit helf the Coyotes to just 284 total yards and just 2-of-14 on third-down conversions.
The Penguins trailed 17-7 after three quarters, but on the first play of the fourth Wells connected with Williams on a 58-yard scoring strike to get within three, 17-14, with 14:51 left in the game.
The Coyotes moved the ball to the YSU 44 on their next possession, but were forced to punt and pinned the Penguins back at their own four-yard line.
After a 19-yard pass to Williams and a 17-yard run by Ruiz, Webb broke free on a 60-yard touchdown run to regain the lead, 21-17, with 11:58 left in the game.
The defense, keyed by Rivers' fourth sack of the game, forced another Coyotes punt and the Penguins took over at their own 20 with 8:11 left in the game.
Led by a heavy dose of Ruiz and Webb rushing, the Guins chewed up 5:13 off the clock and marched 80 yards in nine plays and took a 28-17 lead at the 2:58 mark after a Ruiz two-yard touchdown plunge.
On the fifth play of the second half, Wells was sacked by USD's Drew Iddings and Iddings recovered Wells fumble at the YSU 38. Five plays later, Miles Bergner made a career-long 50-yard field goal to give the Coyotes a 10-7 lead over the Penguins with 11:07 left in the third quarter.
The teams exchanged three punts on the next three possessions, before the Coyotes engineered an 11-play, 71-yard scoring drive to take a 17-7 lead with 57 seconds left in the third quarter.
Jasper Sanders, who ran for 105 yards on 20 carries, gained 40 yards on five carries on the scoring drive. He also caught a four-yard pass from Kevin Earl, who ran in from one-yard to give the Coyotes a 10-point advantage.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Penguins got on the board first when Jody Webb scored from 34-yards out to cap a six-play, 81-yard drive and gave YSU a 7-0 lead with 7:27 left before halftime. Wells and Andrew Williams connected on a couple of big plays, including a 32-yard catch and a 12-yard reception.
As the Penguins were inside the South Dakota 25-yard line, USD's John Wessel intercepted a Wells pass on third and 6 at the Coyotes 25 and returned to their own 31.
A 23-yard pass from Kevin Earl to Jasper Sanders and a 16-yard rush by Sanders move the ball to the YSU 30. Six plays later, Earl hit Sanders for a seven-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 7-7 with nine seconds left before halftime.
At halftime, the Penguins rushed for 93 yards and passed for 120 yards, and the defense allowed just 117 total yards, including 57 yards on the ground. The defense also did not allow a third-down conversion by the Coyotes.
In the first quarter, the teams combined for just four first downs and 101 total yards. YSU ran 14 plays for 50 yards while the Coyotes gained 51 yards on 17 plays.
The Penguins visit No. 6 Illinois State on Saturday, Nov. 8, at 2 p.m. in Normal, Ill.