Defense Shines in Fourth-Quarter Comeback Win over UNI, 14-10

Defense Shines in Fourth-Quarter Comeback Win over UNI, 14-10

Youngstown – For the second straight week, the No. 11 Youngstown State football team used a dominant defensive performance and scored a pair of touchdowns to overcome a fourth-quarter deficit and defeated No. 21 Northern Iowa, 14-10, on Saturday evening at Stambaugh Stadium.

The Penguins improve to 5-1 overall and 3-0 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference while the Panthers fall to 2-4 overall and 1-2 in the MVFC.

The Penguins defense was stellar allowing just nine first downs, one first down in the second half, and just 173 yards of total offense and collected six more sacks. Jameel Smith and Armand Dellovade led the Penguins with eight tackles each and Smith also forced a fumble.

Savon Smith had five tackles and two sacks while Avery Moss, Derek Rivers, Donald Mesier and Jalyn Powell each registered a sack.

The Penguins ran 38 more plays than the Panthers and owned a 35:13 to 24:47 advantage in time of possession.

Trailing 10-0 midway through the third quarter, the Penguins got with three, 10-7, after a 22-play, 86-yard drive in 11:40 capped by a one-yard TD run by Tevin McCaster, who rushed for 29 yards on 12 carries. The drive started at the YSU 14 with 8:27 left in the third quarter.

Twenty of the 22 plays were on the ground and the Penguins converted on five third downs and a fourth down on the drive

After Nathan Mays was intercepted on a potential go-ahead drive at the UNI 17 with six minutes left in the game, senior Derek Rivers sacked Aaron Bailey on third-and-6 for a nine-yard loss to the UNI 37 forcing a Panther punt.

Darien Townsend's 45-yard punt return to the UNI 38 gave the Penguins great field position but a YSU personal foul move the ball back to the YSU 47. A steady diet of runs by McCaster, Jody Webb and Ruiz chewed up 3:09, and Ruiz, who rushed 23 times for 100 yards, plunged in from a yard out with 28 seconds left to seal the YSU victory.

UNI's final drive reached the YSU 44 but Smith's second sack of the game pushed the Panthers back to the YSU 49, and Eli Dunne's hail-mary pass was batted down in the endzone.

In the second half, Youngstown State rushed 43 times for 159 yards and the defense held the Panthers to -17 yards on the ground. 

The Penguins committed four turnovers and two led to 10 first-half points for UNI. A fumble by Ricky Davis led to a Austin Errthum 27-yard field goal at the 7:50 mark of the second quarter gave the Panthers a 3-0. Duncan Ferch's 34-yard interception return for a touchdown gave UNI a 10-0 lead just 44 seconds later.

The Penguins visit South Dakota State, Saturday, Oct. 22. Kickoff is slated for 3 p.m. in Brookings, S.D.