Ninth-Ranked Penguins Looking to Rebound at UNI on Saturday

Stefan Derrick
Stefan Derrick

    The ninth-ranked Youngstown State football team heads to Cedar Falls, Iowa, this Saturday to play UNI. Kickoff for the contest at the UNI-Dome is set for 2 p.m. Eastern/1 p.m. Central time. The game is available on WBCB TV, Watch ESPN, WKBN 570 AM and iHeartRadio.
    YSU (3-3 overall, 1-2 in the MVFC) is coming off a 27-24 overtime defeat to second-ranked North Dakota State at Stambaugh Stadium. The Penguins have dropped their last two games by a total of six points, with the other loss a defeat at fourth-ranked South Dakota.
    In a heavyweight slugfest, the Penguins and Bison needed more than 60 minutes to settle the outcome. YSU had the upper hand early taking a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. Zak Kennedy gave the Guins a 3-0 lead with a 34-yard field goal and Damoun Patterson caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from Nathan Mays. The Bison knotted the game up at halftime as Easton Stick found RJ Urzendowski on a 16-yard score and Cam Pedersen's  19-yard field goal tied the game.
    In the third quarter, YSU went in front 17-10 on a 29-yard touchdown pass from Mays to Kevin Rader. The Bison had the next two scores as Stick threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Nate Jenson and opened the fourth quarter with an 80-yard scoring run. But the Guins rallied to force overtime when Tevin McCaster scored on a one-yard run with 1:23 remaining. In OT, Kennedy missed a 39-yard attempt while Pedersen connected from 36 yards for the game-winner that snapped YSU's 11-game home win streak.
    UNI (3-3, 2-1) had an impressive 38-18 win at South Dakota State last Saturday. The Panthers scored the game's first 17 points and built a 24-6 lead at halftime. UNI put the game out of reach with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown passes by Eli Dunne. The Panthers held SDSU to 52 yards rushing and forced three turnovers in the victory while dominating time of possession - 40:29 to 19:31.
    The series has been full of close games since 2010. The last five meetings have been decided by a total of 20 points, including a 14-10 YSU win in 2016. Meanwhile the Penguins are looking to snap a seven-game losing streak at the UNI-Dome. YSU's last win in the facility was 29-20 on Oct. 23, 1999. 

Below is the list of cable outlets / satellite providers and WBCB channel positions:

  • SPECTRUM: Channel 14 / HD Channel 1014
  • ARMSTRONG CABLE: Channel 16 / HD Channel 103
  • COMCAST: Channel 18 / HD Channel 810
  • SUDDEN LINK: Channel 10 / HD Channel 110
  • DIRECT TV: Channel 14

*WBCB is not carried on DISH
*New Castle PA:  WBCB is on COMCAST Channel 192



Quick Notes
• YSU scored 24 points against North Dakota State. In its first five games, NDSU had surrendered just 21 points.
• YSU played its second overtime game of the season and third in its last nine contests dating back to a two-overtime contest vs. Wofford in the 2016 FCS quarterfinals.
• TB Tevin McCaster has scored a touchdown in all six games this season. He scored on a one-yard run with 1:23 left in the fourth quarter vs. NDSU.
• WR Damoun Patterson caught the first regular-season touchdown pass of his career in the game. Last year, Patterson had TD grabs against Jacksonville State and Wofford in the FCS playoffs. He had a career-high four receptions in the game.
• TE Kevin Rader had a 29-yard touchdown reception vs. NDSU. It was Rader's first career touchdown against an MVFC foe.
• QB Nathan Mays had a career-high 21 rushes for 81 yards in the game. He had a career-best 188 yards passing completing 11-of-15 passing attempts.
• The Penguins had four drives of more than eight plays against North Dakota State – and all four resulted in points.
• YSU has outscored opponents 99-33 in the second half and 52-13 in the fourth quarter.
• The Penguins have had advantages of more than five minutes in time of possession each of the past three contests.
• OT Justin Spencer has started 45 straight games on the offensive line. Spencer, Gavin Wiggins and Vitas Hrynkiewicz have started the past 22 games together on the line.

Last Time Out: NDSU 27, YSU 24
    In a heavyweight slugfest, the Penguins and Bison needed more than 60 minutes to settle the outcome. However, YSU came up just short losing 27-24 to NDSU last Saturday night at Stambaugh Stadium.
    YSU had the upper hand early taking a 10-0 lead in the first quarter. Zak Kennedy gave the Guins a 3-0 lead with a 34-yard field goal and Damoun Patterson caught a 22-yard touchdown pass from Nathan Mays. The Bison knotted the game up at halftime as Easton Stick found RJ Urzendowski on a 16-yard score and a Cam Pedersen 19-yard field goal.
    In the third quarter, YSU went ahead 17-10 on a 29-yard touchdown pass from Mays to Kevin Rader. The Bison had the next two scores as Stick threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Nate Jenson and opened the fourth quarter with an 80-yard scoring run. But the Guins rallied to force overtime when Tevin McCaster scored on a one-yard run with 1:23 remaining. In OT, Kennedy missed a 39-yard attempt while Pedersen connected from 36 yards with the game-winner.
Last Meeting: YSU 14, UNI 10
    A splendid defensive effort and just enough offense in the nick of time helped lead Youngstown State to a memorable 14-10 win over UNI at Stambaugh Stadium last October.
    With injuries forcing the Penguins' first and second sting quarterbacks out of the game, redshirt freshman Nathan Mays helped engineer two scoring drives for the come-from-behind victory.
    Trailing 10-0 midway through third quarter, YSU went on a 22-play drive that was capped with a one-yard run by Tevin McCaster with 11:47 left in the game. With 28 seconds left, TB Martin Ruiz scored from a yard out to give YSU its first lead of the game at 14-10. Ruiz finished with 100 yards for the game.
    UNI had one final chance, but a hail mary throw by Eli Dunne from the YSU 49-yard line was knocked down with no time remaining.

Last Time at UNI
    YSU last played in the UNI-Dome in 2013. As is the norm in the series, that was a contest that went right down to the final play.
    UNI PK Tyler Sievertsen kicked a 34-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Panthers past the Penguins 22-20 at the UNI-Dome.
    After falling behind 3-0, the Penguins slowly built a 14-3 lead.
    QB Kurt Hess gave YSU its first lead of the contest scoring on three-yard run with 6:42 left in the first quarter. Hess later connected with Andre Stubbs on an eight-yard score in the second quarter.
    UNI pulled within 14-6 on a 37-yard Sievertsen field goal in the third quarter. Then the Panthers scored twice in a 3:02 span to grab the lead on touchdown passes from Brian Carnes to Chad Owens.
    Down 19-14, the Guins rallied taking a 20-19 lead with 4:41 left on a four-yard Hess run. UNI marched 56 yards and killed the remainder of the clock to set up the winning kick attempt with four seconds left.

Working Overtime
    For the second time in just six games this season the Penguins 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 not playing an overtime game since September 2004. At home, the Penguins are 5-3 with losses to NDSU, Indiana State (2014) and Florida International (2004).

March of the Penguins
    This season the Penguins have 24 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.
    In the previous game 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 Stepping Up
    Junior TB Tevin McCaster has scored a touchdown in each of the Penguins' six games this season.
    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.
    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 598 yards on 126 carries and scored nine touchdowns. His nine rushing TDs rank second in the FCS.

Mays Has Solid Performance
    Sophomore QB Nathan Mays continued his strong play with starter Hunter Wells out of the lineup. Mays, who has started three of the six 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 337 yards on 58 carries and completed 58-of-88 passes for 714 yards.

Patterson Has Best Game
    Senior WR Damoun Patterson had a career-high four receptions and caught his first touchdown pass of the season against North Dakota State.
    Patterson caught a 19-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter against NDSU. It was Patterson's third career score. He caught TD passes last year against Jacksonville State and Wofford in the playoffs.

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.

Sack Attack Continues
    The Penguins had a tall task following up last year's 49-sack effort. So far, so good on the pressure front as YSU has 15 sacks in six games.
    YSU has had at least three sacks in four of six 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.

Mays Shows Late-Game Grit
    Sophomore QB Nathan Mays has engineered two fourth-quarter game-tying drives the past two contests.
    Mays was clutch on a fourth-quarter drive against NDSU with the Penguins trailing 24-17. YSU marched 90 yards in nine plays thanks to Mays's arm and legs. On the drive he completed two passes for 39 yards, including a 35-yard throw to Damoun Patterson on third-and-6. After he was sacked for a six-yard loss to set up a 2nd-and-16, Mays scampered 36 yards to the NDSU 21-yard line.
    After a pass interference penalty moved YSU to the six, Mays had a second-down carry to the NDSU one that set up a Tevin McCaster TD.
    At South Dakota with YSU trailing 28-21 in the fourth, he led a 15-play, 80-yard march that tied that contest with 3:44 left.
    On that drive he had three rushes for 15 yards, including an eight-yard run on a third-and-6 at the USD 24-yard line and a two-yard sneak on fourth-and-1. He also completed three passes for 33 yards on that game-tying drive.

Dellovade a Key Stopper
    Junior LB Armand Dellovade, a 2016 second-team all-league selection, has 32 tackles this season.
    Dellovade has been a key part of the lineup starting the past 24 games and 31 in his career.  He has 191 career tackles, including 119 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.

Spencer A Mainstay
    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 45 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.

The Wright Stuff
    Senior LB Lee Wright, a 2015 second-team All-MVFC honoree, has 147 career tackles in 22 games played. Wright has been a starter for the Penguins on 20 occasions during his career.
    This year he has 40 total tackles, 20 solos and 20 assists. He has five or more tackles in five contests, highlighted by a season-high 10 at Pittsburgh.
    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.

Chapman Providing Pressure
    Senior DE Fazson Chapman has performed well in his first year as a starter for the Penguins.
    Through six games, Chapman has 22 tackles, which includes four sacks. 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.

Secondary Growing Together
    YSU lost five members from last year's secondary, but the 2017 group has played well.
    Opposing QBs have completed just 53.7 percent of their passing attempts for a total of 963 yards - 160.5 yards per game average.
    Billy Nicoe Hurst, Bryce Gibson and Jalyn Powell have started all six games while Kyle Hegedus has stepped in to start the last five games. Powell and Hegedus share the team lead with 42 tackles each. Both players have 27 solo stops and 15 assists.
    Through six games, the Guins have allowed just seven passing touchdowns. Last year they allowed 26 in 16 games. As a unit, YSU has 27 pass breakups and two interceptions this year. The Penguins had five breakups vs. NDSU.

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 six games in 2017, YSU has played three.
    TB Christian Turner has 571 all-purpose yards. CB Bryce Gibson has started each game at cornerback. Jake Coates is YSU's punt returner and a kick returner.

Mays Running The Offense
    In the past five games, sophomore QB Nathan Mays has rushed for 331 yards on 57 carries and scored four touchdowns. He has completed 58-of-88 passes for 714 yards with three 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 all six games this year. McCaster also has at least 19 carries in five of the six contests.
    This year, he has rushed for 598 yards on 126 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 scored touchdowns in each of the first 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.

Turner Turns Heads
    Freshman TB Christian Turner has been a key part of the offense rushing for 323 yards on 61 carries this year. He has caught 15 passes for 215 yards and two scores as well. He is averaging 14.3 yards per catch and 5.3 per rush.
    Turner got off to a fast start with more than 100 all-purpose yards in each of his first three games of his YSU career. At Pittsburgh, he had 189 all-purpose yards. He added 107 more against Robert Morris and had 123 vs. CCSU.
    In his collegiate debut, Turner caught five passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns vs. Pitt. Turner caught fourth-quarter scores of 25 and 42 as YSU rallied to tie the game and force overtime.

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 104 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:
• 160-19-2 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 114 straight games.

Up Next:
    The Penguins play their annual Homecoming Game on Oct. 28 against Illinois State at Stambaugh Stadium.