Seniors Shine in Final Home Game as Penguins Defeat Northern Iowa 31-10

Tevin McCaster (Photo by Dr. Daryl Mincey)
Tevin McCaster (Photo by Dr. Daryl Mincey)

The Penguins' defense forced two turnovers and held the Panthers' offense to 192 total yards, as the Youngstown State football team defeated UNI, 31-10, on Senior Day from Stambaugh Stadium. Today's win is the largest margin of victory by YSU over UNI since 1979. 

The Penguins improve to 4-6 overall and 3-4 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, while the Panthers fall to 5-4 and 4-2.

TB Tevin McCaster rushed for 136 yards on 35 carries and three touchdowns, while QB Montgomery VanGorder completed 13-of-22 for 209 yards and a touchdown for an offense that piled up 401 total yards on the afternoon.

Darius Shackleford led all wide receivers with two catches for 73 yards and a touchdown. Shackleford's 62-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter was the longest reception of his career. TE Miles Joiner also hauled in two passes for 63 yards. 

After forcing UNI to punt on their first two possessions, the Penguins went on an eight-play 91-yard drive to take a 7-0 lead with 5:44 remaining in the first quarter. The scoring-drive was capped off by 62-yard touchdown pass from VanGorder to Shackleford. The YSU defense was stingy the whole first quarter, only allowing the Panthers to gain 51 yards of total offense. 

The Penguins opened the second quarter with a five-yard touchdown run from McCaster to extend their lead to 14-0. The score was set up after Ma'lik Richmond forced a fumble on the UNI tailback that was recovered by Shereif Bynum on the UNI five-yard line. With 55 seconds remaining in the first half, the Panthers cut the Penguins' lead to 14-7 after Eli Dunne connected with Briley Moore for a four-yard touchdown pass. 

In the first half, the Penguins had 174 yards of total offense while the Panthers had 131. McCaster led the way on the ground for the Penguins with 14 carries for 37 yards and a touchdown. Through the air, VanGorder completed 9-of-15 for 131 yards and touchdown. On the defensive side, Avery Larkin and Armand Dellovade led the way with five tackles a piece.

YSU wasted no time scoring points to open the second half as they went on 41-second drive to push its lead to 21-7. On the two-play 81-yard scoring drive, VanGorder connected with Joiner for a 52-yard completion before McCaster ran in it from 29 yards out for his second touchdown of the afternoon. The Panthers returned the ensuing kickoff to the YSU 40, but after a bad snap on third-and-short from the YSU two-yard line, UNI settled for a 34-yard field goal to cut the lead to 21-10.  

With 1:59 left in the third quarter, the Penguins took a 28-10 lead after McCaster scored his third rushing touchdown of the afternoon from one-yard out. The Penguins' drive went 78 yards on 12 plays and took up over six minutes of the clock. 

To open the fourth quarter, UNI intercepted VanGorder and returned it down to the YSU two-yard line. Two plays later, the Panthers gave it right back to Penguins with a turnover of their own. After another bad snap sailed over the quarterback's head, Ray Anderson scooped up the fumble and returned it down to the UNI 36-yard line. The Penguins turned the turnover into points when Zak Kennedy connected on a 28-yard field goal to increase the YSU lead to 31-10 with 9:52 remaining in the game.

In their final home game, seniors Dellovade and Chrispin Lee recorded nine and six tackles respectively. The Penguins defense forced two fumbles and had seven pass breakups while limiting UNI to just 74 yards passing.

The Penguins wrap up the 2018 season next Saturday when they travel to Illinois State to take on the Redbirds at 1 p.m. from Hancock Stadium.