Penguins Look For Second Straight Win Against Indiana State on Saturday

Tevin McCaster (Photo by Skip Giesen)
Tevin McCaster (Photo by Skip Giesen)

    The Youngstown State football team looks to build on the momentum of their best performance of the season when they play host to Indiana State on Saturday at Stambaugh Stadium. Kickoff for the contest between the Penguins and the Sycamores is set for 2 p.m. The game is available on ESPN+, WKBN 570 AM and iHeartRadio.
    YSU (3-4, 2-2) evened its conference record with a solid 29-17 victory over South Dakota last Saturday night at Stambaugh Stadium. The Penguins jumped out to a 22-0 lead and used an interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter by D.J. Smalls to wrapup the win.
    The Guins came out hot taking advantage of a turnover to take on 6-0 lead on a seven-yard run by Tevin McCaster. YSU extended its lead to 12-0 when McCaster scored again, this time on a 12-yard pass from Montgomery VanGorder. A two-yard touchdown run by VanGorder pushed the Penguins' lead to 19-0 at the end of the first quarter. Midway through the second quarter, Grant Gonya's first career field goal extended the lead to 22-0. The Coyotes pulled within 22-10 after three quarters before Smalls intercepted an Austin Simmons pass and raced 65 yards for a touchdown with 6:19 remaining. South Dakota added a score late for the final margin.
    In the game, YSU had 426 yards of total offense and 40:10 in time of possession. The Guins held USD to just 243 yards of total offense.
    Indiana State (3-4 and 1-3) earned a hard-fought 24-21 win at Southern Illinois last Saturday. The Sycamores, who had a dropped their previous two games by three points each, were on the winning side this time. Trailing 7-0, Indiana State scored 24 unanswered points to grab a 24-7 lead heading into the fourth quarter. But the Salukis scored two touchdowns in the fourth to pull within three. ISU stopped a late SIU possession to earn its first MVFC win since Oct. 22, 2016 (also at SIU).
    YSU leads the all-time series with the Sycamores by a 22-5 margin, which includes a 66-24 win in Terre Haute last November. The Penguins were victorious 13-10 against the Sycamores in the last contest played at Stambaugh Stadium in 2016. YSU owns an 11-3 advantage at Stambaugh Stadium, but the teams have split the past four meetings.



Quick Notes
• The Penguins improved to 3-1 at home this year and 6-1 all-time against South Dakota following their 29-17 win last Saturday.
• TB Tevin McCaster eclipsed the 2,500-yard mark with a season-best 176 yards against the Coyotes. McCaster had a career-high 36 carries in the victory. The 176 yards were the third-most in a game in his career. He has 10 100-yard rushing games in his career.
• Through the first seven games, Montgomery VanGorder has thrown 12 touchdown passes.
• McCaster scored the 31st rushing touchdown of his career against USD. He also caught the first touchdown pass of his career against the Coyotes.
• LB Armand Dellovade has a team-high 57 total tackles. He also has a team-best 34 solo stops. The countdown to 300 tackles in his career is eight. Dellovade enters Saturday's game against Indiana State with 292 stops.
• DE Shereif Bynum has a team-high nine tackles for losses and four sacks.
• Freshman PK Grant Gonya made his YSU debut and booted a 27-yard field goal in the second quarter.
• Ten different Penguins have caught touchdown passes, and for seven of those it was their first career touchdown catch. WR Natavious Payne and TE Miles Joiner went one better; their first career catch went for a touchdown.  The other four who have hauled in their first TD catches are Tevin McCaster, Zach Farrar, Kendric Mallory, London Pearson and Darius Shackleford.
• Six players have started each of the last 18 games - TB Tevin McCaster, C Vitas Hrynkiewicz, OG Gavin Wiggins, LB Armand Dellovade, DE Johnson Louigene and CB Bryce Gibson.

Last Game: YSU 29, USD 17
    YSU picked up a solid 29-17 victory over South Dakota at Stambaugh Stadium. The Penguins jumped out to a 22-0 lead and used an interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter by D.J. Smalls to seal the win.
    The Guins came out hot taking advantage of a turnover to take on 6-0 lead on a seven-yard run by Tevin McCaster. YSU extended its lead to 12-0 when McCaster scored again, this time on a 12-yard pass from Montgomery VanGorder. A two-yard touchdown run by VanGorder pushed the Penguins' lead to 19-0 at the end of the first quarter.
    Midway through the second, Grant Gonya's first career field goal extended the lead to 22-0. The Coyotes pulled within 22-10 after three quarters before Smalls intercepted an Austin Simmons pass and raced 65 yards for a touchdown with 6:19 remaining. South Dakota added a score late for the final margin.
    YSU held the ball for 40:10 of the game.

Last Meeting: YSU 66, ISU 24
     YSU picked up an impressive 66-24 win over Indiana State at Memorial Stadium last November.
    The Penguins jumped out to a 28-0 first quarter lead against the Sycamores. QB Ricky Davis opened the scoring with a 57-yard scoring run on YSU's second offensive snap before adding a one-yard run. The Penguins then scored on a two-yard fumble return by Alvin Bailey and a 39-yard strike from Davis to Jermiah Braswell.
    The Sycamores scored 24 points between the final play of the first quarter and halftime while the Guins had 10 on a Zak Kennedy field goal and Tevin McCaster touchdown run. In the second half, YSU outscored Indiana State 28-0. In the third quarter, Davis had a pair of long touchdown passes to Samuel St. Surin (61 and 64 yards) while Joe Alessi added a pair of scoring runs in the fourth quarter.
    Davis passed for a career-high 349 yards and rushed for a career-best 98. He completed just 10 passes in only three quarters.

Savon The Day
    Senior DT Savon Smith had the best game of his YSU career in the Penguins' 29-17 win over South Dakota.
    Smith was credited with a career-high seven total tackles and had a career-best six solo stops. He had a career-best three tackles for losses, two sacks and a pair of quarterback hurries against the Coyotes.
    It marked the second time in his career that he recorded a pair of sacks in a game – 2016 vs. UNI. In the past two games, he has 11 tackles, nine of which are solo stops, and five TFLs.

Silver Star
    YSU honored the 25th anniversary of its 1993 National Championship Team last Saturday against South Dakota. As one of the tributes, YSU donned silver Y stickers on their football helmets. It was the second time in the past three years the Penguins wore the silver Y's and are now 2-0 with wins over UNI (2016) and South Dakota (2018).
    Ironically, QB Nathan Mays didn't start either game, but was called upon to finish them. Against UNI in 2016, he led two fourth-quarter touchdown drives in a 14-10 come-from-behind win. Against South Dakota, he came on in the fourth quarter to help seal the win by rushing six times for 76 yards, including a career-long 50-yard run.

McCaster Eclipses 2,500 Yards
    With a season-best 176-yard rushing performance against South Dakota, Tevin McCaster has now rushed for 2,506 yards in his YSU career.
    Against the Coyotes, McCaster had a career-high 36 carries as he went over the 100-yard mark for the fourth time this season. In 2018, he has 771 yards on 171 carries and seven touchdowns. In the win over USD, he also had the first receiving touchdown of his YSU career.
    His previous best in attempts was 35 against South Dakota State in 2017.

Dellovade Nearing 300
    Senior LB Armand Dellovade is eight tackles shy of 300 for his career. He is looking to become just the second YSU player in the last 19 seasons to have more than 300 stops joining Jeremiah Wright (2003-07).
    Dellovade will have chance this weekend against Indiana State to eclipse the 300-tackle mark.
    He had seven tackles in the win over South Dakota. In six of seven games this year he has been credited with seven stops or more. He had a career-high 15 stops at Western Illinois.
    For his career, Dellovade has 292 tackles (176 solos) to rank him 14th in school history. He is seven behind Mike Peterson (1984-87) for 13th place in school history and 16 back of Wright.

Pick Six For Smalls
    With lottery fever gripping the U.S., DJ Smalls joined the fun returning an interception 65 yards for a touchdown against South Dakota. After the game, his grandmother thought his "pick six" had something to do with the lottery numbers for the evening. Technically she is right, but the Penguins were happy to get an interception return to be a winner.
    Smalls' return for a TD was the first by the Guins since Jayln Powell also had an interception return in the fourth quarter against USD at Stambaugh Stadium in 2016.

Gonya Makes Debut
    The Penguins made a switch at placekicker against South Dakota with freshman Grant Gonya getting the call.
    After a tough start missing two PAT kicks, which game against a wind gusting up to 30 mph, Gonya settled down to make his third and fourth attempts.
    In the second quarter, he calmly kicked a 27-yard field goal to put the Penguins ahead of the Coyotes, 22-0.
    It was a good night for the Gonya's. His dad, Curt, who lettered for the Penguins in 1993, was part of the 25th Anniversary ceremony for the 1993 National Championship team.

Welcome Back Mays
    After being sidelined for the first six games, QB Nathan Mays made his season debut in the fourth quarter vs. South Dakota.
    Mays came in and rushed for 76 yards on six carries and had a career-long carry of 50 yards with YSU facing a third-and-10 from their 25-yard line with 3:44 remaining. The play helped the Guins all but ice the victory.

VanGorder Throwing TDs
    QB Montgomery VanGorder has 12 touchdown passes in his first year with the program. What is most impressive is that he's found 10 different receivers.
    Through seven games, he has completed 114-of-210 passes for 1,487 yards and 12 touchdowns. He is averaging 212.4 yards per contest.
    Last year, the most touchdown passes by any YSU quarterback was five, and four of those came in one game. His 114 completions are more than last year's high of 75 set by Nate Mays.
    On three occasions, VanGorder has thrown for three touchdowns. VanGorder has had three TD tosses against Butler, Valparaiso and at Western Illinois.
    It is the first time since Kurt Hess in 2013 that a YSU quarterback has thrown for three TDs on three occasions during a year. It has happened three other times since 1999 - Jeff Ryan (four in 1999), Brandon Summers (three in 2008) and Hess again in 2011 (three).

McCaster A 2,500/30 Player
    Senior TB Tevin McCaster has rushed for more than 2,500 yards and scored 31 touchdowns in his impressive YSU career.
    In 38 games played, McCaster has rushed for 2,506 yards on 528 carries. He scored the 31st touchdown of his career last Saturday in the first quarter vs. South Dakota. McCaster also caught the first touchdown pass of his stellar career in the victory.
    In his 18 games as a starter, he has rushed for 1,837 yards on 392 carries and scored 20 of his 31 career TDs.
    With a 141-yard rushing performance against Valparaiso on Sept. 15, McCaster eclipsed the 2,000-yard rushing mark in his YSU career.
    He ranks tied for eighth in school history for rushing touchdowns with 31. He is 12th in attempts and 14th in career rushing yardage.

Secondary Improvement
    The Penguins have turned a corner in the secondary the past three games allowing a total of 341 yards passing and just 35 completions.
    Through the first four games, YSU had allowed an average of 274.5 yards per contest (1,098 yards total). On three occasions in the first four games the Penguins allowed more than 250 yards passing.
    YSU limited South Dakota to just 158 yards on 16 completions. Previously, the Guins held Southern Illinois to 105 passing yards and South Dakota State to 78. In the last three games, the Penguins are allowing just 113.7 yards a contest.

Plenty of Newcomers
    YSU has had plenty of new faces see action so far this season.
    A total of 33 players have made their Penguins debut while 22 players, including 13 on offense, have made their first career starts.
    The Guins who have made their first career starts are QB Montgomery VanGorder, OTs Devon Robinson and Charles Baldwin, TEs Miles Joiner, Kierre Hawkins, Chris Durkin and Josh Burgett and WRs Darius Shackleford, Kendric Mallory, Zack Torbert, Ryan Emans, Zach Farrar and Samuel St. Surin, PK Grant Gonya, SS Terray Bryant, SS Chrispin Lee, FS Devanere Crenshaw, NB Will Latham, LB Christiaan Randall-Posey, LB Ray Anderson, DE Shereif Bynum and DT Wes Thompson.
    Eight true freshmen have played this year: WR Natavious Payne, PK Grant Gonya, LB Myles McHaney, DB Paul French, LB Griffin Hoak, DT DeMarko Craig, DT Dontae Cilenti and TE Jake Benio. Through seven games, only Payne will not be able to redshirt.

Kennedy Now Stands Second
    Senior PK Zak Kennedy sits in second place in school history in points by a placekicker.
    With 32 points this season - 17 PATs and five field goals - he now has 286 points which moved him into second. Jeff Wilkins set the school career mark of 373 from 1990-93 before moving on to having a successful NFL career.
    Kennedy has made 51 field goals in his career and 132 extra points in his four years with the program. He has made his last 67 PAT kicks dating back to December 2016.
    Against South Dakota State, he had the first punts of his YSU career. He punted four times for an average of 41.0 yards per kick with a long of 57 yards.

McCaster Up For Payton
    Tevin McCaster is one of 32 FCS offensive standouts who have been named to the Walter Payton Award Watch List by STATS FCS.
    McCaster is one of five Missouri Valley Football Conference representatives on the Watch List. Other MVFC standouts on the list include Illinois State running back James Robinson, North Dakota State running back Bruce Anderson, NDSU quarterback Easton Stick and South Dakota State quarterback Taryn Christion.
    This year he has 771 yards on 171 carries and seven touchdowns.

Lee Getting Playing Time
    Strong safety Chrispin Lee has made a big impact in the secondary this season. After seeing limited playing time his entire career, Lee has started the past six games at strong safety.
    Against Southern Illinois he had 11 total tackles, nine of which were solo stops. He had his first career sack in the contest against the Salukis. At West Virginia earlier in the year he had a career-high 15 stops. At SDSU he was credited with five stops.
    This season, Lee has 46 total tackles in seven games. In his previous 19 games played, mostly on special teams, he had 13 stops.
Bynum Having Big Year
    Junior DE Shereif Bynum has had a breakout year in his first season as a starter.
    Bynum has 28 total tackles, 18 of which are solo stops. He leads the team with nine TFLs and four sacks.
    In three contests this season he has five tackles - West Virginia, Western Illinois and Southern Illinois. Against the Salukis he had a pair of sacks. He also has sacks against Butler and Valparaiso.
    Entering the season, he had four total tackles in his career.

Dellovade Always Plays Tough
    YSU senior LB Armand Dellovade has been a mainstay on the Penguins' defense throughout his career.
     In 45 career games played, Dellovade has  292 career tackles, 176 of which are solo stops. Impressively, Dellovade has made 43 starts in his 45 games played. The only non starts by Dellovade were his first career game at Pittsburgh 2015 and later in the season vs. Missouri State when the Penguins started a six defensive-back package on the contest's opening snap.
    He has started the 2018 campaign strong recording at least seven tackles in six of the seven games. He had 15 stops vs. WIU, he had eight at West Virginia and vs. Valparaiso and seven against Butler. He leads the team with 50 tackles, including 31 solos.
    Last season, he was second on the team with 76 total stops, 40 of which were solos. He also had three sacks.
    As a sophomore he had 105 tackles in 16 games. As a true freshman in 2015, he was credited with 54 total tackles.

Strong Down The Middle
    YSU's offensive line features experienced players in center Vitas Hrynkiewicz, guard Gavin Wiggins and guard Connor Sharp.
    The Penguins feature new tackles this year as they replace four-year starter Justin Spencer and last year's starter Cameron Fraser.
    Redshirt freshman left tackle Dan Becker has started the first seven games while Kansas transfer right tackle Charles Baldwin has started five at right tackle and junior college transfer Devon Robinson has started twice.
    Wiggins has started 38 straight games, Hrynkiewicz has started the past 34 while Sharp made his 11th career start vs. South Dakota.

Spreading the Ball Around
    The Penguins have had an impressive 16 different players catch passes this year.
    Overall, nine wide receivers, four tight ends and three tailbacks have caught passes from QB Montgomery VanGorder.
    Wide receivers with receptions are Zach Farrar, Samuel St. Surin, Kendric Mallory, Darius Shackleford, Natavious Payne, Jermiah Braswell, Ryan Emans, Zack Torbert and Jake Cummings.
    TBs Christian Turner, Tevin McCaster and London Pearson have catches as do TEs Miles Joiner, Chris Durkin, Josh Burgett and Kierre Hawkins.
    Ten different players have a touchdown reception while Mallory and Joiner are tied for the team lead with two each.
    An impressive 12 players caught passes in the game at Western Illinois.

VanGorder's Record Breaker
    QB Montgomery VanGorder set three school single-game passing records at Western Illinois on Sept. 29.
    VanGorder finished the game with 418 yards passing completing 33-of-57 passes. In the first half, he was a modest 7-of-15 for 83 yards.
    In the third quarter he was 11-of-18 for 140 yards, and in the fourth period he was 15-of-24 for 191 yards. In total, he was 26-of-42 for 331 yards and three touchdowns in the second half.

Gibson Leads Secondary
    Sophomore CB Bryce Gibson has been the leader of a secondary that's improved the past threeweeks after some shuffling to start the year.
    Eight different players have started a game in the secondary with Gibson and DJ Smalls being the only two to have started all six games.
    Chrispin Lee has started six games, Will Latham and Devanere Crenshaw have started each started four games while Avery Larkin has started three. Melvin Jackson and Terray Bryant have each started once as well. Jackson made his first career start vs. SIU.
    Against SIU, the unit allowed just 105 yards passing and 12 completions.
    At SDSU, the Guins held the Jackrabbits' passing offense in check allowing just 78 yards and seven completions.
    YSU held South Dakota to just 158 yards passing. USD entered the game averaging 320.7 yards a contest.
    Last year, Gibson started all 11 games as a true freshman. The Guins started a pair of seniors in Jalyn Powell and Billy Nicoe Hurst along with sophomore Kyle Hegedus last year. Hegedus tore the ACL in his right knee and was lost for the season leaving YSU without three starters from 2017. YSU's unit led the FCS in fewest passing yards allowed in 2017.

Numbers of Note
• Turnover Margin: Since 1996, the Penguins are 136-36 when they win or tie in the turnover margin. When committing more turnovers, YSU is just 27-70.
Since 1990 YSU is:
• 165-20-2 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points in a game.
• 140-17 when rushing for 200-plus yards.
• 161-27 when scoring 28-or-more points.
• 87-10-1 when holding opponents to fewer than 100 yards rushing in a game.
• 191-16 when leading entering the fourth.
• 88-3-2 when holding opponents to 10 points-or-less in a game.

Up Next:
    YSU starts the month of November with a trip to top-ranked North Dakota on Nov. 3.