Penguins Host UNI on Senior Day This Saturday

Armand Dellovade
Armand Dellovade

    The Youngstown State football team plays its final home game of the season against No. 22 UNI on Saturday. Kickoff at Stambaugh Stadium is set for Noon. The game is available on ESPN+, WKBN 570 AM and iHeartRadio.
    YSU (3-6, 2-4) is coming off hard-fought effort in a 17-7 loss at North Dakota State last Saturday. The contest was tied after three quarters before the Bison scored the contest's final 10 points for the win.
    After a scoreless first quarter, NDSU took a 7-0 lead with 9:07 left in the second quarter on a 30-yard pass from Easton Stick to Lance Dunn. The Guins hung tough and tied the contest late in the third quarter when Nathan Mays connected with Miles Joiner on 21-yard scoring toss. However, in the fourth quarter, NDSU scored 10 points to pull out the win. The Bison went in front 14-7 on a one-yard run by Stick with 11:22 left. NDSU made it a two-possession game on a 36-yard field goal by Cam Pedersen.
    Senior linebacker Armand Dellovade had a career-high 16 tackles in the contest. Dellovade also forced a fumble and had a pass breakup. Mays made his first start of the year at QB and had a career-high 22 rushing attempts. He had 21 against the Bison last year at Stambaugh Stadium.
    UNI (5-4, 4-2) picked up a key 26-16 win over Illinois State last Saturday to stay in the FCS playoff hunt. The Panthers are tied for second in league play with two games remaining. Against the Redbirds, UNI trailed 3-0 before scoring 26 unanswered points. Placekicker Austin Errthum kicked four field goals to give UNI a 12-3 advantage. The defense chipped in returning an interception 31 yards for a touchdown as UNI led 19-3 at halftime. Following another interception, Marcus Weymiller scored on a two-yard run in the third quarter to push the advantage out to 26-3. The Redbirds had a pair of fourth quarter scores before UNI was able to wrapup the win.
    The contest is Senior Day for the Penguins who will honor a group of 19 seniors before the game. It will be the final home performance for multi-year starters Dellovade, Savon Smith, Johnson Louigene, Avery Larkin, Zak Kennedy, Steven Wethli, Vitas Hynkiewicz, Gavin Wiggins, Connor Sharp and Tevin McCaster.  All 10 of those Penguins played key roles in YSU's run to the 2016 National Championship Game.

   

Quick Notes
• TB Tevin McCaster is closing in on consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons. McCaster has 957 yards on 201 carries. Last year, McCaster had 1,066 yards on 220 attempts.
• YSU has the won the past two games vs. UNI at Stambaugh Stadium with narrow wins in 2012 and 2016. In 2016, the Penguins won 14-10 while in 2012, the Guins earned a 42-35 victory. YSU had lost five straight at home to UNI before the victory in 2012.
• Saturday is the first time YSU has played host to UNI in November since 1998.
• McCaster is tied with Marschell Brumfield for seventh in school history with 32 career rushing touchdowns.
• LB Armand Dellovade has a team-high 82 total tackles. He also has a team-best 45 solo stops. Against North Dakota State he had a career-high 16 tackles. The 16 stops were the most by a Penguin since Jeremiah Wright had 18 at Missouri State on Nov. 13, 2004.
• DE Shereif Bynum has a team-high 10.5 tackles for losses. DT Savon Smith has a team-best five sacks.
• 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.
• Five players have started each of the last 19 games - C Vitas Hrynkiewicz, OG Gavin Wiggins, LB Armand Dellovade, DE Johnson Louigene and CB Bryce Gibson. McCaster's start streak was snapped at NDSU.
• PK Zak Kennedy has made his last 69 PATs entering the game vs. UNI. His last miss came in the second quarter of YSU's playoff win over Wofford in 2016.

Last Game: NDSU 17, YSU 7
    YSU suffered a hard-fought 17-7 loss at No. 1 North Dakota State last Saturday at the Fargodome. The contest was tied after three quarters before the Bison scored the contest's final 10 points for the win.
    After a scoreless first quarter, NDSU took a 7-0 lead with 9:07 left in the second quarter on a 30-yard pass from Easton Stick to Lance Dunn. The Guins hung tough and tied the contest late in the third quarter when Nathan Mays connected with Miles Joiner on 21-yard scoring toss.
    However, in the fourth quarter, NDSU scored 10 points to pull out the win. The Bison went in front 14-7 on a one-yard run by Stick with 11:22 left. NDSU made it a two-possession game on a 36-yard field goal by Cam Pederson.

Last Meeting: UNI 19, YSU 14
    YSU suffered a 19-14 loss to UNI at the UNI-Dome last October.
    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, 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.

McCaster Likes Home Cooking
    TB Tevin McCaster has rushed for more than 100 yards in each of the Penguins' five home games this season. He had 166 against Butler, 141 vs. Valparaiso, 116 vs. Southern Illinois and 176 vs. South Dakota and 165 yards vs. Indiana State.
    In YSU's five home games, he has 764 yards on 140 carries and has scored five touchdowns.

Most Tackles in 18 Years
    Senior LB Armand Dellovade has the most career tackles by any YSU player since 2000.
    Dellovade had a career-high 16 tackles at North Dakota State which included seven solo stops. He also forced a fumble and had a pass breakup against the Bison.
    Dellovade now has 317 career tackles which rank him 12th in school history. It's the most by any YSU player since the end of the 2000 season. Among the Penguins' FCS history, he ranks 10th in career tackles.

Braswell Becomes Go-To Guy
    WR Jermiah Braswell has become a go-to receiver for the Penguins. In the past three games he has 12 receptions for 219 yards. He caught a career-high six passes for 93 yards and a touchdown against Indiana State. Last time out, he hauled in three passes for 60 yards at North Dakota State, including a career-long 46-yard grab.
    Against South Dakota he caught three passes for 66 yards, including a season-long 33-yard reception. Braswell had a 27-yard catch at South Dakota State. Earlier this season, he also had a five-catch, 63-yard performance at West Virginia.
    He is the team's active leader with four touchdown receptions. He has 26 receptions for 465 yards, an average of 17.9 per catch in his YSU career.

Mays Back In the Fold
    After being sidelined for the first six games, QB Nathan Mays made his first start of the season at North Dakota State. He made his season debut in the fourth quarter vs. South Dakota.
    At NDSU, he rushed for 58 yards on a career-high 22 carries. He completed
    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.
    Against Indiana State, Mays had his first pass attempts of the season completing 6-of-11 attempts for 85 yards.

Dellovade Reaches 300
    Senior LB Armand Dellovade recorded the 300th tackle of his career in the third quarter of the contest against Indiana State on Oct. 27.
    Dellovade entered the game against Indiana State just eight tackles shy of 300 before finishing with nine stops against the Sycamores.
    He is just the 13th player to be credited with 300 tackles as a Penguin and the first since Jeremiah Wright finished with 308 from 2003-07.

Savon Applying Pressure
    Senior DT Savon Smith has been playing some of the best football of his career as of late.
    In the past five games, he has 16 tackles, 6.5 TFLs and four sacks.
    He 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.
    This past week, he had two sacks against Indiana State. Smith also had a pair of sacks in 2016 against UNI.

Linebackers Impress
    Against North Dakota State, the Penguins' linebacking corps had one of their best games as a group.
    Armand Dellovade led the way with a career-high 16 tackles while Cash Mitchell had eight, Christiaan Randall-Posey had four solos and Ray Anderson added three solos as well. The four players combined for 31 total tackles in the game.
    Randall-Posey had two TFLs while Mitchell and Anderson each had one. Dellovade forced a fumble and had a pass breakup.

Special Teams Were Solid
    The YSU special teams had its best game of the season at NDSU. The Penguins blocked a punt, allowed just 16 yards on a kickoff return and placed three punts inside the opposition's 20-yard line.
    Late in the second quarter, Christiaan Randall-Posey found a seam against NDSU's punt protectors and blocked a Garret Wagner punt that YSU pounced on at the 13-yard line.
    Mark Schuler pinned NDSU deep on three occasions with a fair catch at the 15, a downed punt at the one-yard line and another fair catch at the 13.
    On the seven punts by Schuler, NDSU did not have a return yard.

VanGorder Throwing TDS
    QB Montgomery VanGorder has 13 touchdown passes in his first year with the program. What is most impressive is that he's found 10 different receivers.
    He has completed 131-of-242 passes for 1,702 yards and 13 touchdowns.
    Last year, the most touchdown passes by any YSU quarterback was five, and four of those came in one game.
    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 2,600/30 Player
    Senior TB Tevin McCaster has rushed for more than 2,600 yards and scored 32 rushing touchdowns in his impressive YSU career.
    In 40 games played, McCaster has rushed for 2,692 yards on 558 carries. He scored the 32nd touchdown of his career in the third quarter against Indiana State. McCaster also caught the first touchdown pass of his stellar career vs. South Dakota on Oct. 20.
    In his 19 games as a starter, he has rushed for 2,002 yards on 414 carries and scored 21 of his 32 career TDs. He did not start at NDSU.
    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 seventh in school history for rushing touchdowns with 32 with Marschell Brumfield. He is ninth in attempts with his 558 and 10th in rushing yards with 2,692.

Gonya Makes Strong 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 came 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.
    Against Indiana State he made two extra-point tries and kicked a 33-yard field goal.
    He did not play at NDSU and can play the final two games and earn a redshirt for the year.

Plenty of Newcomers
    YSU has had plenty of new faces see action this season.
    A total of 34 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; 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.
    Nine true freshmen have played this year: WR Natavious Payne, PK Grant Gonya, LB Myles McHaney, DB Paul French, DB Alec Burzynski, LB Griffin Hoak, DT DeMarko Craig, DT Dontae Cilenti and TE Jake Benio. Through eight games, only Payne will not be able to redshirt.

Lee Getting Playing Time
    Senior SS 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 eight 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. He has five-or-more tackles in six games this year.
    This season, Lee has 55 total tackles, including 32 solo stops. 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 32 total tackles, 20 of which are solo stops. He leads the team with 10.5 TFLs and ranks second with 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 had sacks against Butler and Valparaiso.
    Entering the season, he had four total tackles in his career. In eight of the nine games, he has at least three tackles.

Dellovade Always Plays Tough
    YSU senior LB Armand Dellovade has been a mainstay on the Penguins' defense throughout his career.
    In 47 career games played, Dellovade has  317 career tackles, 180 of which are solo stops. Impressively, Dellovade has made 44 starts in his 46 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 had a strong campaign recording at least seven tackles in eight games. He had a career-high 16 tackles at North Dakota State. Previously, his season best was 15 stops vs. Western Illinois on Sept. 29. He leads the team with 82 tackles, including 45 solos. Dellovade intercepted a pass against Valparaiso.
    He had the 300th tackle of his career in the third quarter against Indiana State.
    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.

Kennedy Now Stands Second
    Senior PK Zak Kennedy sits in second place in school history in points by a placekicker.
    With 33 points this season - 18 PATs and five field goals - he now has 287 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 133 extra points in his four years with the program. He has made his last 68 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.

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 QBs Montgomery VanGorder and Nathan Mays.
    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, Braswell and Joiner are tied for the team lead with two each.
    An impressive 12 players caught passes in the game at Western Illinois on Sept. 29.

Gibson Leads Secondary
    Sophomore CB Bryce Gibson has been the leader of a secondary that's been improved following 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 nine games.
    Chrispin Lee has started eight games, Devanere Crenshaw has started five, Will Latham and Avery Larkin have both started four times. Melvin Jackson and Terray Bryant have each started once as well. Jackson made his first career start vs. SIU.
    Last year, Gibson started all 11 games as a true freshman. YSU's unit led the FCS in fewest passing yards allowed in 2017.
Tough In November
    The Penguins have won six of their last seven games in November dating back to 2016. YSU went 3-0 in November last year and won its last three games in 2016. YSU had a six-game winning streak snapped at NDSU last Saturday.
    In 2017, YSU won at Southern Illinois and Indiana State before knocking off Missouri State to end the season. In 2016, the Guins beat Southern Illinois at home before winning at Missouri State. In the opening round of the playoffs, the Guins beat Samford.

Pick Six For Smalls
    With lottery fever gripping the U.S. a few weeks ago, DJ Smalls joined in 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. In some ways she was 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.

VanGorder's Record Breaker
    QB Montgomery VanGorder set three school single-game passing records at Western Illinois.
    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.
    The marks for yards and attempts were set in 1968 by Denny Klembara while Brandon Summers had the school mark for completions back in 2008.

Numbers of Note
• Turnover Margin: Since 1996, the Penguins are 136-37 when they win or tie in the turnover margin. When committing more turnovers, YSU is just 27-71.
Since 1990 YSU is:
• 165-21-2 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points in a game.
• 140-18 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 plays its final game of the season at Illinois State. Kickoff at Hancock Stadium against the Redbirds is set for 1 p.m.