Stellar Defense, Fourth-Quarter Scoring Leads Football to 20-6 Win at Illinois State

Derek Rivers (#11), Savon Smith (#52)
Derek Rivers (#11), Savon Smith (#52)

Normal, Ill. – A stellar defensive performance and a 17-point fourth quarter led the No. 13 Youngstown State football team to a 20-6 Missouri Valley Football Conference win over No. 22 Illinois State on Saturday afternoon at Hancock Stadium.

With the win, the Penguins improve to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the MVFC while the Redbirds fall for the fourth straight time and move to 2-4 overall and 0-3 in the conference.

The Penguins' defense recorded six sacks, 10 tackles-for-loss, and five pass breakups while allowing just 250 total yards. Senior Derek Rivers posted three sacks and four tackles while senior Avery Moss had a pair of sacks.

LeRoy Alexander and Armand Dellovade each recorded six tackles to lead the YSU defense, which forced the Redbirds to punt seven times and allowed just 3-of-13 conversions on third down.

QB Ricky Davis ran for 97 yards on 18 carries and threw for 89 more on 6-of-18 passing with an interception. Tevin McCaster rushed the 81 yards and had a fourth-quarter rushing touchdown.

Trailing 6-3 late in the third quarter, Davis engineered a 17-play, 91-yard drive and hit Alvin Bailey on third-and-five for a 20-yard TD pass to give the Penguins a 10-6 lead with 12:37 left in the fourth. On the drive, the Penguins converted on four third-down conversion and a fourth-and-one to keep the drive going.

After the defense forced a Redbird punt, Davis was intercepted by ISU's DraShane Glass who returned it to the ISU 49. However, the defense forced the Redbirds to punt again.

On the ensuing drive that started at the YSU 13, sophomore McCaster broke loose for a 56-yard gain to the Illinois State three to set up his own one-yard touchdown run to give the Penguins a 17-6 edge.

Zak Kennedy booted a 35-yard field goal with 1:35 to go up by 14, 20-6, after the Redbirds turned the ball over on downs.

Kennedy also booted a 42-yard field goal with just 10 seconds left before halftime for the game's first points and gave the Penguins a 3-0 lead.

Illinois State kicked a pair of field goals in the third quarter after failing to punch across the goalline after being inside the YSU 10 twice.

The defense limited Illinois State to 116 total yards, including just 39 yards on the ground in the first half and 30 coming on the Redbirds' first play from scrimmage.

The Penguins host No. 11 Northern Iowa, Saturday, Oct. 15, at 7 p.m. at Stambaugh Stadium.