Penguins Fall Short at Second-Ranked South Dakota State

Lamont Ragland (Photo by Dr. Daryl Mincey)
Lamont Ragland (Photo by Dr. Daryl Mincey)

Brookings, S.D. - The Youngstown State football team dropped a 29-7 decision to second-ranked South Dakota State on Saturday afternoon at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.

The Penguins drop to 2-4 overall and 1-3 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference while the Jackrabbits improve to 4-1 and 2-1.

QB Montgomery VanGorder completed 14-of-27 passes for 208 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. TB Tevin McCaster rushed for 60 yards on 22 carries.

YSU had a brief lead in the first quarter, but the Jacks scored 30 unanwsered points to finish out the contest. The Penguins held the talented SDSU passing offense in check, but four rushing touchdowns in the final three quarters were too much to overcome.

South Dakota State jumped out to a 6-0 lead when Taryn Christion found Cade Johnson on a 23-yard touchdown pass just 3:13 into the game. The quick two-play drive was set up when the Jackrabbits blocked a Zak Kennedy 41-yard field goal attempt and return the kick to the YSU 25-yard line.

The Penguins responded on their ensuing possession to take their first lead of the contest. YSU moved 78 yards in eight plays and went in front 7-6 when VanGorder connected with Christian Turner on a 27-yard scoring toss. For Turner it was the first receiving touchdown since his first career game in 2017 against Pittsburgh.

In the first quarter, the Jackrabbits grabbed a 9-7 lead when Chase Vinatieri kicked a 31-yard field goal.

Neither team could muster much offense in the second quarter until the final minute of play. SDSU extended its lead to 16-7 when Mikey Daniel scored on a one-yard run with just 50 seconds remaining.

In the opening half, YSU had 235 yards of total offense on 37 plays and dominated time of possession holding the football for more than 18 minutes. The defense held SDSU in check for the most part allowing just 68 yards passing and 83 yards rushing. YSU was 4-of-8 on third-down conversions and SDSU was just 1-of-5.

South Dakota State increased its lead to 23-7 with 12:13 left in the third quarter following a 47-yard rush by C.J. Wilson. Early in the fourth period, Christion found some room on the left side and raced 49 yards to make the score 29-7 in favor of SDSU. Christion added an 11-yard touchdown run with 7:36 remaining for the Jacks' final score. 

YSU finished with 344 yards of total offense for the contest while SDSU finished with 331. Armand Dellovade had a team-high seven tackles while Bryce Gibson had six.

The Penguins play the first of two straight home games when they entertain South Dakota next Saturday. Kickoff at Stambaugh Stadium is set for 6 p.m.