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Youngstown – The No. 14 Youngstown State football team allowed just 226 of total offense and senior Darien Townsend's fourth-quarter punt return for a touchdown lifted the Penguins to a come-from-behind 13-10 win over Indiana State on Saturday evening at Stambaugh Stadium.
The Penguins improve to 6-2 overall and 4-1 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference while the Sycamores fall to 4-5 overall and 2-4 in the MVFC. With the win, YSU is tied for first in the MVFC standings.
With the Penguins trailing 10-6 early in the fourth quarter, Townsend's electrifying 79-yard punt return for a touchdown put them on top 13-10 with 9:09 left in the game.
From that point on, the defense allowed just 25 yards on the Sycamores' final two drives. Senior Avery Moss, who had three sacks, recorded two on ISU's final drive and had a pressure on the final snap by the Sycamores offense on fourth-and-long.
For the game, Penguins had seven sacks for 65 yards in losses, 12 tackles for loss, two interceptions and a fumble recovery. Youngstown State also limited the Sycamores to 4-of-16 on third-down conversions.
Senior LeRoy Alexander led the Penguins with 11 tackles, three tackles for loss and a critical sack on third-and-14 in the fourth quarter
From the 2:43 mark of the first quarter to the early minutes of the fourth, the YSU defense stifled the Sycamores on 10 straight drives that ended in two interceptions, six punts, fumble and a turnover on downs. On those final 10 drive, the Penguins allowed just 129 total yards.
Senior running back carried the load for the Penguins offense rushing for 151 yards on 22 carries, including a long rush of 41 yards. It marked the 17 100-yard rushing game of Ruiz's career and he becomes just the third player in school history to reach that feat.
Junior quarterback Hunter Wells completed 13-of-26 passes for 101 yards with a pair of interceptions. It was Wells' season debut in game eight of the campaign.
Indiana State jumped to a 10-0 lead on a Jerry Nunez 23-yard field goal and a nine-yard touchdown pass from Isaac Harker to Robert Tonyan. The Sycamores drove 72 plays in 13 plays to set up Nunez field goal.
Kenny Bishop spoiled the Sycamore drive with his first interception of the season at the YSU 10. Zak Kennedy's 23-yard field with 11:07 left in the second quarter capped an 84 yard drive that got the Penguins within a touchdown, 10-3.
Kennedy booted a 31-yard field goal as time expired before halftime to make the score 10-6.
In the second half, the Penguins moved the ball much better but Kennedy had a field goal blocked in the third quarter and missed another in the fourth goal
The Penguins visit North Dakota State, Saturday, Nov. 5. Kickoff is slated for 3:30 p.m. at the FargoDome in Fargo, N.D.