Penguins Set to Face No. 16 Illinois State on Homecoming

Johnson Louigene (Photo by Skip Giesen)
Johnson Louigene (Photo by Skip Giesen)

    The 19th-ranked Youngstown State football team plays its annual Homecoming contest against No. 16 Illinois State on Saturday at Stambaugh Stadium. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. The game is available on Watch ESPN, WKBN 570 AM and iHeartRadio.
    YSU (3-4 overall, 1-3 in the MVFC) is looking to snap a three-game losing streak following a 19-14 loss at UNI last Saturday. The Penguins have lost their last three games by a total of 11 points.
    At UNI, YSU trailed 10-0 and played catch up for most of the contest. The Panthers opened the game with a 23-yard field goal by Sam Drysdale in the first quarter before Marcus Weymiller added a one-yard touchdown run in the second period. YSU pulled within 10-7 when Nathan Mays connected on a 41-yard scoring pass to Damoun Patterson. However, UNI answered on its ensuing drive to extend its advantage to 16-7 on a six-yard scoring run by Weymiller. In the third quarter, Drysdale kicked a 28-yard field goal as the Penguins trailed 19-7. Late in the fourth, reserve QB Ricky Davis threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Alvin Bailey bringing the Penguins with 19-14 with 1:23 left. UNI recovered YSU's onside-kick try to seal the win.
    Illinois State (5-2, 3-1) picked up an impressive 37-21 win over previously unbeaten and fourth-ranked South Dakota at Hancock Stadium last Saturday. The Redbirds jumped out to a 14-0 lead on a pair of Jake Kolbe to Spencer Schnell first-quarter touchdown passes. USD answered with a pair of scores before ISU took a 17-14 lead at halftime when Sean Slattery made a 47-yard field goal. After the teams traded touchdowns, the Redbirds ended the game strong scoring the final 13 points. Leading 24-21, Slattery kicked a pair of field goals and James Robinson scored on an 87-yard run for the back-breaker with 5:42 remaining.
    The series between the Penguins and Redbirds has been a close one throughout its history with each team owning 13 wins in the all-time series. YSU won 20-6 last year in Normal, Ill., but the Redbirds won a 31-29 contest at Stambaugh Stadium in 2015. Since 2009, each team has won four matchups. The Penguins have won three of the past four meetings at Stambaugh Stadium.

  

 

Quick Notes
• YSU has won 11 of its last 12 games at Stambaugh Stadium. The Penguins had an 11-game home winning streak snapped with a 27-24 overtime loss to North Dakota State the last time out.
• The Penguins allowed just 19 points in the loss to UNI. It was the fewest points allowed in a loss since South Dakota State scored 17 on Oct. 31, 2009.
• Junior LB Armand Dellovade had a career-high 15 tackles in the loss at UNI. Dellovade was credited with four solos and 11 assists in the contest.
• WR Alvin Bailey caught his first touchdown pass of the season while WR Damoun Patterson has caught touchdown passes in two straight games.
• QBs Nathan Mays and Ricky Davis each had touchdown passes at UNI.
• In the second half, YSU allowed just 88 yards on 26 plays. Of note, 55 yards came on one drive in the third quarter. The defense held UNI to four three-and-outs in the second half as well.
• TB Tevin McCaster scored a touchdown in each of the first six games before not scoring at UNI.
• WR Damoun Patterson had a career-high five receptions for 100 yards in the game. It was Patterson's second career 100-yard game.
• YSU has outscored opponents 106-36 in the second half and 59-13 in the fourth quarter.
• The Penguins have had advantages of more than five minutes in time of possession in three of the last four contests.
• OT Justin Spencer has started 46 straight games on the offensive line. Spencer, Gavin Wiggins and Vitas Hrynkiewicz have started the past 23 games together on the line.

Last Time Out: UNI 19, YSU 14
    YSU suffered a 19-14 loss to UNI at the UNI-Dome last Saturday. It was the eighth straight loss at UNI for the Penguins.
    Against the Panthers, YSU trailed 10-0 and played catch up for most of the contest.
    The Panthers opened the game with a 23-yard field goal by Sam Drysdale in the first quarter before Marcus Weymiller added a one-yard touchdown run in the second period.
    YSU pulled within 10-7 when Nathan Mays connected on a 41-yard scoring pass to Damoun Patterson. However, UNI answered on its ensuing drive to extend its advantage to 16-7 on a six-yard scoring run by Weymiller. In the third quarter, Drysdale kicked a 28-yard field goal as the Penguins trailed 19-7.
    Late in the fourth, reserve QB Ricky Davis threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Alvin Bailey bringing the Penguins with 19-14 with 1:23 left. UNI recovered YSU's onside-kick try to seal the win.
Last Meeting: YSU 20, ISU 6
    YSU used a strong fourth quarter and a complete defensive effort to pick up a 20-6 victory at Illinois State at Hancock Stadium last year.
    The Penguins took a 3-0 lead at halftime as PK Zak Kennedy kicked a 42-yard field goal to break the scoreless stalemate with 10 seconds left in the first half.
    In the third quarter, the Redbirds' Sean Slattery had a pair of field goals - 20 and 27 yards - to put Illinois State ahead 6-3.
    YSU started to build momentum toward the end of the third quarter, and 2:16 into the fourth period, QB Ricky Davis hit WR Alvin Bailey on a 20-yard touchdown pass to cap off a 17-play, 91-yard drive. The Guins went in front 17-6 with 2:23 left in the game when TB Tevin McCaster scored from a yard out to end an 87-yard drive.
    The defense kept the pressure on the final two minutes to preserve the victory.
    Kennedy added a 35-yard field goal for YSU's final points of the contest.

Dellovade Has Best Game
    YSU junior LB Armand Dellovade led the YSU defense with a career-best 15 tackles in the 19-14 loss at UNI. Against the Panthers he had four solo stops and 11 assists.
    With his performance, Dellovade now has over 200 tackles in his YSU career. In 34 career contests, Dellovade has been credited with 206 tackles, including 123 solos stops. His previous single-game high was 10 at South Dakota State last year.
 
Receivers Step Up
    YSU WRs Damoun Patterson and Alvin Bailey combined for 10 catches, 185 yards and two touchdowns in the Penguins' loss at UNI.
    Patterson caught five passes for 100 yards and a touchdown against the Panthers. It was the second 100-yard receiving performance of his career while the five catches were a career high. He has nine receptions for 171 yards and two touchdowns in the past two games. In the first five games he had nine catches for 126 yards and no touchdowns.
    Bailey had a season-high 85 yards on five receptions and caught his first touchdown pass of the season. He has a reception in each of his 20 career games played at YSU.
 
Losing The Close Ones
    YSU's four losses this season have come by a total of 18 points. Three of those defeats have come on the road by a total of 15 points. YSU dropped its opener at Pittsburgh 28-21 in overtime, lost a 31-28 contest at South Dakota on a late field goal and dropped a 19-14 decision at UNI. YSU had its 11-game home winning streak snapped by North Dakota State with a 27-24 overtime defeat. YSU has lost three straight games by a total of 11 points.

Homecoming Happiness
    The Penguins are playing their 77th Homecoming contest this Saturday against Illinois State.
    YSU has won five of its last six Homecoming contests, including a 13-10 win over Indiana State last year.
    The Penguins own an all-time mark of 52-23-1 in Homecoming contests. Illinois State has been YSU's Homecoming opponent on three occasions. The Penguins are 1-2 against the Redbirds with the most recent Homecoming matchup between the two back in 2007.
    At Stambaugh Stadium, YSU 24-11 in Homecoming games.

Patterson Plays Big Role
    Senior WR Damoun Patterson caught five passes for 100 yards and a touchdown against the Panthers. It was the second 100-yard receiving performance of his career while the five catches were a career high. He has nine receptions for 171 yards and two touchdowns in the past two games.
    In the first five games he had nine catches for 126 yards and no touchdowns.

Working Overtime
    Twice this season the Penguins have played an overtime game. YSU battled North Dakota State to OT after the contest was tied at 24 at the end of regulation. The Penguins, however, suffered a 27-24 setback to the Bison.
    YSU opened the season with an overtime contest at Pittsburgh. The Penguins came up short in that contest as the Panthers scored a TD and the defense held YSU in a 28-21 contest.
    YSU is now 8-7 all-time in overtime games and has played six since November 2014 after last playing an overtime game in September 2004. At home, the Penguins are 5-3 with their last win coming against Wofford in 2016.

March of the Penguins
    This season the Penguins have 27 drives of at least eight-or-more plays this year.
    YSU had four scoring drives vs. NDSU and all four were more than eight plays. The Penguins tied the game up with 1:23 remaining with a nine-play, 90-yard drive that took 5:01. Most recently at UNI, YSU had three eight-play drives, including a 14-play sequence that ended with a missed field goal.
    At South Dakota, YSU had four drives for eight plays and three of those ended in touchdowns. Against South Dakota State, YSU had six drives of nine plays or longer.
    Against South Dakota State, the Guins' offense had six drives that lasted nine or more plays. YSU had drives of nine (twice), 14, 15 (twice) and 16 against the Jackrabbits. YSU had a school record 45:14 time of possession in the contest.

McCaster Making Moves
    Junior TB Tevin McCaster has scored a touchdown in six of YSU's seven games.
    McCaster, who had four scores at South Dakota on Oct. 7, scored on a one-yard run with 1:23 left in regulation to help the Penguins force overtime vs. NDSU. He did not score at UNI.
    At South Dakota, McCaster scored a career-high four touchdowns. He rushed for 90 yards on 22 carries against the Coyotes. Against South Dakota State, McCaster had a career-high 35 rushes for a career-best 183 yards.
    This season, McCaster has 624 yards on 137 carries and scored nine touchdowns.

Spencer Shows Durability
    Senior OT Justin Spencer, a preseason third-team All-America pick, has been a mainstay on the offensive line for the Guins since 2014.
    A preseason All-MVFC first-team selection, Spencer has started all 46 games in his YSU career. After playing right tackle his first two years with the program, Spencer moved to left tackle in 2016 where he started all 16 games.
    He was a second-team All-MVFC pick in 2016 and an honorable-mention selection in 2015.

Chapman Providing Pressure
    Senior DE Fazson Chapman has performed well in his first year as a starter for the Penguins.
    Through seven games, Chapman has 27 tackles, which includes six TFLs and four sacks. In the past thee games, he has performed well with 15 total tackles.
    At UNI, Chapman had five total tackles, which included a pair of TFLs. Against North Dakota State, he had five tackles, including four solo stops. At South Dakota, Chapman had five tackles as well. He also had a sack and forced fumble against the Coyotes.
    In his career prior to this season, he had one assisted tackle and two quarterback hurries. Last season, he was a backup to third-round NFL Draft pick Derek Rivers.

The Wright Stuff
    Senior LB Lee Wright, a 2015 second-team All-MVFC honoree, has 157 career tackles in 23 games played. Wright has been a starter for the Penguins on 21 occasions during his career.
    This year he has 50 total tackles, 21 solos and 29 assists. He has five or more tackles in five contests, highlighted by 10 at Pittsburgh and 10 at UNI.
    He ranks third on the squad with his 50 total tackles.
    Last season, he started three of the final four playoff games for the Penguins and was credited with 29  tackles (21 solos) in the postseason.
    In 2015, Wright started all 11 games and led the Penguins with 78 total tackles, including 48 solo stops. He also had six sacks and 9.5 TFLs.

Secondary Growing Together
    YSU lost five members from last year's secondary, but the 2017 group has played well.
    Opposing QBs have completed just 52.7 percent of their passing attempts for a total of 1,114 yards - 169.1 yards per game average.
    Billy Nicoe Hurst, Bryce Gibson and Jalyn Powell have started all seven games while Kyle Hegedus has started the last six contests.
    Hegedus leads the team with 53 total tackles while Powell is second with 52. Powell is tops on the squad with 33 solo tackles while Hegedus is second with 29.
    Through seven games, the Guins have allowed just seven passing touchdowns. Last year they allowed 26 in 16 games. As a unit, YSU has 29 pass breakups and two interceptions.

Mays Performs Admirably
    Sophomore QB Nathan Mays continued his strong play with starter Hunter Wells out of the lineup. Mays, who has started four of the seven games and come on during the first series in two others, has played well for the Penguins.
    Against North Dakota State, he rushed 21 times for 81 yards, including a long run of 36 yards on YSU's final drive of the game. He completed 11-of-15 pass attempts for a career-best 188 yards in the game and had two touchdowns. Also on the final drive, he connected with Damoun Patterson for a season-long 35-yard reception.
    This year Mays has rushed for 314 yards on 70 carries and completed 72-of-108 passes for 889 yards.

Sack Attack Continues
    The Penguins had a tall task following up last year's 49-sack effort. So far, YSU has 15 sacks in seven games.
    YSU has had at least three sacks in four of seven games this season. At South Dakota, YSU had four sacks, including a pair by LB Armand Dellovade. DT Donald Mesier had the lone YSU sack against North Dakota State.
    The Penguins had four against Robert Morris and had three each vs. Pittsburgh and Central Connecticut.
    Seven different players have a sack this year while DEs Fazson Chapman and Justus Reed lead the team with four each.

True Freshmen See Action
    Last year YSU played two true freshmen; one was a kickoff specialist and the other was a special teams/reserve linebacker. After seven games in 2017, YSU has played four.
    TB Christian Turner has 598 all-purpose yards. CB Bryce Gibson has started each game at cornerback. Jake Coates is YSU's punt returner and a kick returner and LB Terray Bryant has played on special teams.

Rader Hauls In TD
    Senior TE Kevin Rader had an impressive 29-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter vs. NDSU. Rader caught a Nathan Mays pass in the flat at the 25-yard line and then took the ball to the end zone.
    It was the fourth touchdown reception of his career and first against an MVFC foe. He has two TD grabs against Robert Morris and one at Eastern Washington during his career.

Rugged Ranked Stretch
    The Penguins faced a daunting stretch facing then fourth-ranked South Dakota State, then-sixth-ranked South Dakota and second-ranked North Dakota State.
    YSU came within six points of sweeping the top five teams, but came up just short on two occasions.
     The Guins opened MVFC play with an impressive 19-7 win over South Dakota State. YSU then dropped a 31-28 decision at South Dakota as the Coyotes kicked a field goal with seven seconds left. Against NDSU, YSU lost in overtime after missing a field goal while the Bison converted a 36-yarder for the win.
    UNI is just outside the top 25 polls this week, but the Panthers own a pair of close losses as well - 24-21 to Southern Utah and 39-28 to Western Illinois. WIU scored with six seconds left two rally for a win at the UNI-Dome.

Dellovade a Key Stopper
    Junior LB Armand Dellovade, a 2016 second-team all-league selection, has 47 tackles this season.
    Dellovade has been a key part of the lineup starting the past 25 games and 32 in his career.  He has 206 career tackles, including 123 solo stops. He is the team's active leader in sacks with nine and 21.5 tackles for losses. At South Dakota, he had two sacks in the ball game. Against SDSU, Dellovade had a tackle-for-loss which resulted in a safety and an interception that stopped the Jackrabbits' final drive of the game. He was named the MVFC's Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts.
    Last season he led the Penguins with 105 tackles, including 70 solo stops, in 16 games. He was third on the squad with 11.5 TFLs.

Mays Running The Offense
    In the past six games, sophomore QB Nathan Mays has rushed for 308 yards on 69 carries and scored four touchdowns. He has completed 72-of-108 passes for 889 yards with four touchdowns.
    Against NDSU he had 81 yards on 21 carries and threw for 188 yards on just 11 completions.
    Against SDSU, Mays had 11 carries for 65 yards and a touchdown. He completed 14-of-19 passes for 113 yards. Mays completed 13-of-17 passes for 149 yards while rushing for 63 yards on seven carries vs. RMU. He had the first passing and first rushing TDs of his career against RMU. Against CCSU he had 96 yards rushing on four carries while completing 8-of-12 passes for 112 yards.
    Last season, Mays had 35 carries for 126 yards while completing 11-of-18 passes for 133 yards.

McCaster Carries the Load
    Junior TB Tevin McCaster has rushed for more than 62 yards in six of seven games this year. McCaster also has at least 19 carries in five contests.
    This year, he has rushed for 624 yards on 137 carries and has nine touchdowns. McCaster has two 100-yard efforts so far this year - 183 vs. South Dakota State and 101 vs. Central Connecticut. Against the Jackrabbits he had a career-high 35 carries.
    He has touchdowns in six games this season. In his career, YSU is 11-4 when he scores a touchdown, including an 8-1 record a year ago.
    Last season, McCaster was second on the team in touchdowns with 11 while rushing for 652 yards on 129 carries. His best performance was at EWU, where he had 154 yards on 29 carries and scored three touchdowns.
    He was the only running back to play in all 16 games in 2016.

20 Seniors Breakdown
    The roster features 20 seniors who have come to YSU through a variety of ways. Eight of the 20 have spent their entire college careers at YSU.
    Five players are fifth-year seniors - Ricky Davis, Cole Newsome, Anthony Parente, Kevin Rader and Justin Spencer. Davis has moved to wide receiver after serving as a quarterback his first four years. Rader was a originally a defensive end for two seasons before moving to tight end.
    DE Fazson Chapman came to YSU in 2013, then spent the 2014 season at Rochester Community College, before returning in 2015.
    Three seniors on the roster joined the program in 2014 and never redshirted - TE Shane Kuhn, DB DJ Thomas and QB Hunter Wells. LB Lee Wright transferred to YSU from Appalachian State while OT Cameron Fraser joined the team from Louisville in 2014.
    Those who have been with the program for three seasons include Big Ten transfers Jalyn Powell (Michigan State) and Soloman Warfield (Iowa) and juco transfer Lasander Washington.
    Five junior college transfers and an FBS transfer are in their second seasons at YSU. Alvin Bailey joined the program in the spring of 2016 from Florida. Junior college transfers who came to YSU last summer are Stefan Derrick, Donald Mesier, Trent Hosick, Billy Nicoe Hurst and Damoun Patterson. Hosick came to YSU as a quarterback.

TE's Play Big Role
    YSU has three senior tight ends in Kevin Rader, Shane Kuhn and Anthony Parente in addition to Chris Durkin, a fourth-year junior in transfer.
    In total, the group has combined to play 108 games the past three years. In fact all three seniors have played in every game since the start of the 2015 season. Kuhn has missed one game since 2014 while Parente has not played in two. Rader played defensive end in 2014.

Numbers of Note
• Turnover Margin: Since 1996, the Penguins are 133-35 when they win or tie in the turnover margin. When committing more turnovers, YSU is just 25-65.
Since 1990 YSU is:
• 160-20-2 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points in a game.
• 135-16 when rushing for 200-plus yards.
• 156-26 when scoring 28-or-more points.
• 85-9-1 when holding opponents to fewer than 100 yards rushing in a game.
• 186-15 when leading entering the fourth.
• 86-3-2 when holding opponents to 10 points-or-less in a game.
More recently:
• YSU has scored points in 115 straight games.

Up Next:
    The Penguins play two straight contests on the road starting with a Nov. 4 game at Indiana State.
    The Guins will then travel to Southern Illinois before concluding the regular season at Stambaugh Stadium on Nov. 18 against Missouri State.