Penguins Open Two-Game Homestand Against South Dakota

DT Wes Thompson
DT Wes Thompson

    The Youngstown State football team returns home to take on South Dakota at Stambaugh Stadium. Kickoff for the contest between the Penguins and Coyotes is set for 6 p.m. The game is available on ESPN+, WKBN 570 AM and iHeartRadio.
    YSU (2-4, 1-2) suffered a 36-7 setback at South Dakota State last Saturday in Brookings, S.D. The Penguins led 7-6 in the first quarter before the Jackrabbits ended up scoring the final 30 points of the game.
    After falling behind 6-0, the Guins marched 78 yards on eight plays and took a 7-6 lead when Christian Turner scored on a 27-yard pass from Montgomery VanGorder at the 7:41 mark of the first quarter. SDSU responded with a 31-yard field goal by Chase Vinatieri just over four minutes later and never trailed again in the contest. SDSU's final four touchdowns were rushing scores by Mikey Daniel, C.J. Wilson and Taryn Christion. YSU trailed just 23-7 entering the fourth quarter before Christion scored twice to put the game out of reach.
    South Dakota (3-3, 2-1) suffered a 42-28 loss to UNI at the DakotaDome last Saturday night. The Panthers broke open a 21-all game in the third quarter by scoring three straight touchdowns. At halftime, UNI led 21-13 before the Coyotes tied the contest with 2:31 left in the third quarter on a two-yard touchdown run by Brandon Thull. UNI answered with three consecutive scores - a 21-yard touchdown pass from Eli Dunne to Briley Moore, a 25-yard scoring toss from Dunne to Nick Fossey and a fumble recovery by Brawntae Wells in the end zone. The Coyotes scored on a five-yard pass from Austin Simmons to Dakarai Allen to make it a two-score game but could get no closer.
    YSU leads the all-time series with the Coyotes, 5-1. The Penguins have won the previous three meetings at Stambaugh Stadium, but all have been hard fought. The Guins won 30-20 in 2016, 28-17 in 2014 and 13-0 back in 2012. Last year was a tough 31-28 defeat for YSU. The Penguins fought back from down 28-14 in the second half to tie the contest with 3:49 remaining on Tevin McCaster's fourth rushing touchdown of the game. But Ryan Weese's 29-yard field goal with seven seconds left was the game winner for USD.



Quick Notes
• The YSU Athletic Department is welcoming back members of the 1993 National Championship team to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of their title. In the 1993 final, YSU defeated Marshall 17-5 to win its second national title in a three-year span. The Guins would repeat a year later in 1994.
• Through the first six games, Montgomery VanGorder has thrown 11 touchdown passes.
• TB Tevin McCaster has 595 yards rushing on 135 carries and six touchdowns. He is averaging 99.2 yards per game.
• McCaster scored his 30th career touchdown against Southern Illinois. He is just the 10th player in YSU history to score 30 rushing TDs in a career.
• LB Armand Dellovade has a team-high 50 total tackles. He also has a team-best 31 solo stops.
• DE Shereif Bynum has a team-high eight tackles for losses and four sacks.
• PK Zak Kennedy now has 51 career field-goals made, which is one shy of second in school history (52 by Paul McFadden 1980-83).
• Nine different Penguins have caught touchdown passes, and for six 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 Zach Farrar, Kendric Mallory, London Pearson and Darius Shackleford.
• Six players have started each of the last 17 games - TB Tevin McCaster, C Vitas Hrynkiewicz, OG Gavin Wiggins, LB Armand Dellovade, DE Johnson Louigene and CB Bryce Gibson.
• Kennedy has made his last 68 PATs entering the game vs. South Dakota. His last miss came in the second quarter of YSU's playoff win over Wofford in 2016.

Last Game: SDSU 36, YSU 7
    YSU suffered a 36-7 setback at South Dakota State last Saturday in Brookings, S.D., at Dana Dykhouse Stadium. The Penguins led 7-6 in the first quarter before the Jackrabbits ended up scoring the final 30 points of the game.
    After falling behind 6-0, the Guins marched 78 yards on eight plays and took a 7-6 lead when Christian Turner scored on a 27-yard pass from Montgomery VanGorder at the 7:41 mark of the first quarter.
    SDSU responded with a 31-yard field goal by Chase Vinatieri just over four minutes later and never trailed again in the contest. SDSU's final four touchdowns were rushing scores by Mikey Daniel, C.J. Wilson and Taryn Christion.
    YSU trailed just 23-7 entering the fourth quarter before Christion scored twice to put the game out of reach.
    The Guins held SDSU to 78 yards passing.

Last Meeting: USD 31, YSU 28
     YSU suffered a disappointing 31-28 setback at sixth-ranked South Dakota in 2017 at the DakotaDome.
    TB Tevin McCaster had a rushing score in each quarter as the Penguins overcame a 28-14 second-half deficit to tie the game at 28 in the fourth. However, South Dakota was able to put together a game-winning drive that ended with a Ryan Weese 29-yard field goal with seven seconds remaining.
    YSU jumped out to a 7-0 first-quarter lead when McCaster scored on a nine-yard run 5:22 into the game. But USD had the next two scores grabbing a 14-7 advantage. McCaster scored on a three-yard run tying the contest before Chris Streveler found Brandt Van Roeckel for a 22-yard score just before halftime.
    The Guins trailed 28-14, but two McCaster scores tied the game with 3:49 left. But, USD moved into field-goal range late on its final possession to earn the win.

Dellovade Now Sits 14th
    Senior LB Armand Dellovade was credited with seven tackles against South Dakota State. For his career, Dellovade has 285 tackles (173 solos) to rank him 14th in school history.
    Dellovade is just 15 tackles shy of becoming just the 13th player in school history to reach the 300-tackle mark. Only one player since 2000 has been credited with more than 300 tackles, linebacker Jeremiah Wright (2003-07).
    Against SDSU, he moved past LB James Terry for 14th place (283) with his seven-tackle effort.

VanGorder Throwing TDS
    QB Montgomery VanGorder has 11 touchdown passes in his first year with the program.
    Through six games, he has completed 104-of-192 passes for 1,356 yards and 11 touchdowns .
    Last year, the most touchdown passes by any YSU quarterback was five, and four of those came in one game. His 104 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 2,000/30 Player
    Senior TB Tevin McCaster has rushed for more than 2,000 yards and scored 30 touchdowns in his impressive YSU career.
    In 37 games played, McCaster has rushed for 2,330 yards on 492 carries. He scored the 30th touchdown of his career in the Penguins' come-from-behind win over Southern Illinois on Oct. 6.
    In his 17 games as a starter, he has rushed for 1,661 yards on 356 carries and scored 19 of his 30 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 ninth in school history for rushing touchdowns with 30. He is 14th in attempts and 15th in career rushing yardage.

Kennedy Now Stands Second
    Senior PK Zak Kennedy moved into second in school history in points by a placekicker after a nine-point effort against Southern Illinois.
    With 32 points this season - 17 PATs and five field goals - he now has 286 points, which moved him past Mark Griffith (1996-99) and into second place in school history. Jeff Wilkins set the school career mark of 373 from 1990-93 before moving on to having a successful NFL career.
    Last season, Kennedy had 67 points. As a sophomore he scored 96 points, and as a freshman he had 91.
    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 25 FCS offensive standouts who have been named to the Walter Payton Award Watch List by STATS FCS.
    McCaster is one of four Missouri Valley Football Conference representatives on the Watch List. Other MVFC standouts on the list include North Dakota State running back Bruce Anderson, NDSU quarterback Easton Stick and South Dakota State quarterback Taryn Christion.
    This year he has 595 yards on 135 carries and six touchdowns. He had a season-high 166 yards rushing against Butler.
    In his first year as starter in 2017, McCaster rushed for 1,066 yards on 221 carries and scored 13 touchdowns. In conference play he rushed for 803 yards on 171 attempts and scored 10 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 five 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 41 total tackles in six games. In his previous 19 games played, mostly on special teams, he had 13 stops.

Secondary Improvement
    The Penguins have turned a corner in the secondary the past two games allowing a total of 183 yards passing and just 19 completions.
    Through the first four games, YSU had allowed an average of 274.5 yards per contest. On three occasions in the first four games the Penguins allowed more than 250 yards passing.
    YSU held Southern Illinois to 105 passing yards and South Dakota State to 78.
Payne Train Is Coming on
    A bright spot for the Penguins on offense has been the emergence of true freshman wide receiver Natavious Payne.
    In the past two games, he has six rushes for 45 yards and five catches for 49 yards. Against Southern Illinois he had a career-best four catches for 33 yards, and at SDSU had five rushing attempts for 38 yards and caught a pass for 16 yards. On the year he has eight catches for 110 yards and a touchdown.

Bynum Having Big Year
    Junior DE Shereif Bynum has had a breakout year in his first season as a starter.
    Bynum has 25 total tackles, 16 of which are solo stops. He leads the team with eight TFLs and four sacks.
    In three contests this season he has five tackles - West Virginia, Western Illinois and Southern Illinois. Last Saturday 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 44 career games played, Dellovade has  285 career tackles, 173 of which are solo stops. Impressively, Dellovade has made 42 starts in his 44 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 five of the six 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.

Plenty of Newcomers
    YSU has had plenty of new faces see action so far this season.
    A total of 31 players have made their Penguins debut in the first six contests while 21 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, 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.
    Six true freshmen have played this year: WR Natavious Payne, DB Paul French, LB Griffin Hoak, DT DeMarko Craig, DT Dontae Cilenti and TE Jake Benio. Through six games, only Payne will not be able to redshirt.

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 six games while Kansas transfer right tackle Charles Baldwin started five at right tackle and junior college transfer Devon Robinson started against Valpo.
    Wiggins has started 37 straight games, Hrynkiewicz has started the past 33 while Sharp made his 10th career start vs. SDSU.

Spreading the Ball Around
    In the first six games of the year, the Penguins have had 16 different players catch passes.
    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 Chrstian Turner, Tevin McCaster and London Pearson have catches as do TEs Miles Joiner, Chris Durkin, Josh Burgett and Kierre Hawkins.
    Nine 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.

McCaster Moving Up Charts
    Senior TB Tevin McCaster has 2,330 yards rushing in his career to rank 15th in school history. He ranks ninth in school history with 30  rushing touchdowns and 14th with 492 carries.
    He has scored a touchdown in four of the six games for the Penguins this year.
    In 2017, he scored a touchdown in nine games. The only two contests McCaster didn't score in were against UNI and Illinois State. In 2016 he had touchdowns in nine of the Guins' 16 games. In five of the seven games he didn't score in 2016, he had four or fewer carries.
    At South Dakota in 2017, McCaster scored a career-high four touchdowns. Against South Dakota State in 2017, McCaster had a career-high 35 rushes for a career-best 183 yards.
    In 2016 he had 129 totes in the 16 contests (8 per game) and followed that with a 229-carry effort (20.8) in 11 games in 2017.
    This year he has as least 22 carries in a game on four occasions.

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 two weeks 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 five games, Will Latham, Avery Larkin and Devanere Crenshaw has started each started three games. Melvin Jackson and Terray Bryant have each started once as well. Jackson made his first career start vs. SIU. Crenshaw has started the past three games after missing the first three games of the campaign.
    Against SIU, the unit allowed just 105 yards passing and 12 completions. It was the first time this year that the Penguins did not allow a passing touchdown in a game.
    At SDSU, the Guins held the Jackrabbits' passing offense in check allowing just 78 yards and seven completions.
    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.

Mays Showed Grit in 2017
    Junior QB Nathan Mays started a team-best five games last season and entered two others on the game's first series following an injury to starter Hunter Wells.
    For the year, he completed 75-of-113 passes for 905 yards and four touchdowns. On the ground, he rushed for 317 yards on 77 carries and added four scores. He started against Central Connecticut, South Dakota, North Dakota State, UNI and Illinois State.
    He was called upon to replace Wells on the opening series twice and led the Guins to wins over Robert Morris and SDSU. Mays has yet to play in 2018.

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 26-70.
Since 1990 YSU is:
• 164-20-2 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points in a game.
• 139-17 when rushing for 200-plus yards.
• 160-27 when scoring 28-or-more points.
• 86-10-1 when holding opponents to fewer than 100 yards rushing in a game.
• 190-16 when leading entering the fourth.
• 88-3-2 when holding opponents to 10 points-or-less in a game.

Up Next:
    YSU plays its second straight home game when it takes on Indiana State on Oct. 27. Kickoff for the game at Stambaugh Stadium is set for 2 p.m.
    The 2018 YSU Athletics Hall of Fame class will be presented during the contest.