Guins Make Strong Playoff Statement With 65-20 Win Over Missouri State

TB Martin Ruiz
TB Martin Ruiz

Springfield, Mo. - The Youngstown State offense had its best performance of the season, and one of the best in school history, as the Penguins picked up their eighth win of the season in impressive fashion beating Missouri State 65-20 on a chilly Saturday at Plaster Stadium.

The Penguins amassed a school-record 747 yards of total offense while the defense forced four turnovers that YSU turned into 28 points. With the victory, YSU should ensure itself in the NCAA Playoffs for the first time since 2006 following an 8-3 overall campaign that featured a 6-2 mark in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. MSU finishes the season 4-7 and 2-6.

YSU finished with 572 yards rushing on 54 carries, an average of 10.6 per rush. The Penguins had rushing touchdowns of 94, 75, 61, 53, 52, three and one-yard in the game. Senior TB Martin Ruiz had the best game of his career with 183 yards on 19 carries and three touchdowns. Redshirt freshman Joe Alessi led the Guins in rushing with 190 yards on just seven carries. TB Jody Webb joined the 100-yard party with 166 yards on 15 attempts.

QBs Hunter Wells and Nathan Mays combined to complete 16-of-17 passes for 175 yards. Wells had the lone incompletion but completed 14 of 15 attempts, all of which came in the first half.

YSU had one of its most complete halves of the season to build a 34-10 lead at the break. On 40 offensive plays, the Penguins had 418 yards, an average of 10.45 yards a play.

In the first quarter, Ruiz had scoring runs of three and one yard as the Penguins seized control 14-0.

On its first drive of the game, YSU marched 69 yards in nine plays as Ruiz scored from three yards out just 4:10 into the contest. On the ensuing offensive drive YSU went 82 yards in 11 plays as Ruiz punched it in from a yard out for his second touchdown of the quarter.

After scoring 14 points in the first, YSU scored 20 more in the second quarter.

Just 56 seconds into the period, Webb broke free for a 52-yard scoring run to put the Guins out in front 21-0. After a 33-yard field goal by MSU's Zach Drake got the Bears on the scoreboard, the Guins answered right back as Ruiz found some daylight on the left side and outraced the Bears to the end zone on a career-long 94-yard scoring run. It was third-longest play in school history.

With YSU ahead 27-3, the Bears immediately answered on the next play as Brodie Lambert found Zac Hoover on a 63-yard touchdown toss.

Just before halftime, YSU worked the two-minute drill to perfection for its last score. Wells led an eight-play, 78-yard drive and found Alvin Bailey for a touchdown with four seconds left in the half.

Wells was 14-of-15 for 147 yards in the first half while Ruiz had 160 yards and Webb had 109 in the first 30 minutes. 

The onslaught continued in the third quarter.

Webb scored his second touchdown of the game of more than 50 yards to put YSU in front 41-10 just 2:39 into the period. He took a handoff from Wells around the left side and raced 53 yards for a score. 

Just 1:06 later, Kenny Bishop sacked Lambert and scooped up the ball at the 19 and ran it in for a touchdown. Connor McFadden's first career field goal closed out the quarter with YSU in front 51-10.

In the fourth, Alessi was dynamite. On his first carry of the game he went 61 yards for a touchdown. On his next carry he went 75 for a score to cap off the 65-point performance.

The Penguins will learn their postseason fate on Sunday morning during the FCS Playoff Selection Show which is set to air at 11 a.m. on ESPNU.