The Youngstown State football team dropped their Missouri Valley Football Conference opener to Western Illinois on a cool Saturday at Hanson Field, 45-38.
The Penguins (1-3 overall and 0-1 in the MVFC) played from behind most of the afternoon, but never quit against the Leathernecks (2-2 and 1-0).
QB Montgomery VanGorder completed 33-of-57 passes for 418 yards and three touchdowns. The completions, attempts and yards were all school records. The previous mark for completions was 32 set by Brandon Summers against Liberty in 2008. The other marks had stood for a long time. Denny Klembara set the yards passing mark in 1968 against Pensacola Navy and attempts vs. Akron.
Down 30-10 in the third quarter, VanGorder found Zach Farrar on a 21-yard touchdown pass with 4:33 left in the period to get YSU within 30-17.
After the YSU defense stopped the Leathernecks, the Penguins moved 56 yards in 13 plays as Tevin McCaster scored on a fourth-and-goal play from the two-yard line with 11:26 left. It was the second rushing score of the contest for McCaster.
However, following the YSU score, the Leathernecks answered back and scored a touchdown when Sean McGuire found Isaiah LeSure on a 30-yard pass. The two-point conversion extended the WIU lead to 38-24 with 8:06 left in the fourth.
YSU's next offensive snap resulted in a turnover as Darius Shackleford was stripped of the ball the Penguins' 32-yard line. WIU added another quick touchdown as McGuire connected with Clint Ratkovich on a 32-yard score just 58 seconds later as the lead became 45-24.
VanGorder completed an 11-yard scoring toss to Jermiah Braswell with 4:05 left in the fourth. The Penguins recovered the ensuing onside kick and moved the ball to the Western Illinois 2-yard line. However, VanGorder was intercepted in the end zone to stop the drive.
The Guins forced a quick three-and-out and VanGorder led the Penguins on another scoring drive. With 36.7 seconds left he connected with London Pearson on a two-yard touchdown pass to cut the deficit to 45-38.
YSU tried another onside kick, but this time the Leathernecks recovered to seal the win.
The Leathernecks jumped out to a 6-0 lead when McGuire found Adam Conrady on an eight-yard touchdown pass on their first possession of the game. The scoring toss capped a 10-play, 83-yard drive that took 4:17 off the clock.
YSU took its first lead of the contest at the four-minute mark of the first quarter when McCaster scored on a three-yard run.
Sam Croza 35-yard field goal put the Leathernecks back in front 9-7 with 13:30 left in the second quarter. With 59 seconds left before halftime, McGuire scored on a two-yard run to push the Leathernecks' lead to 16-7.
On their first offensive snap of the third quarter, the Leathernecks added to their lead as Steve McShane found some daylight around the left side and ran 75 yards for a touchdown. The Penguins picked up a 24-yard field goal from Zak Kennedy with 8:55 left in the period to cut the deficit to 23-10.
Later in the third quarter, McGuire threw a touchdown pass to defensive tackle Khalen Saunders to extend the WIU advantage to 30-10.
The Penguins play their annual Homecoming Game next Saturday against Southern Illinois. Kickoff at Stambaugh Stadium is set for 6 p.m.