Penguins Capitalize on Turnovers in 34-14 Victory Over Duquesne

Nathan Mays (Photo by Ron Stevens)
Nathan Mays (Photo by Ron Stevens)

Youngstown, Ohio - The Youngstown State football team used solid performances on both sides of the ball to defeat Duquesne 34-14 on Saturday afternoon at Stambaugh Stadium.

The Penguins start the season 3-0 for the first time since 2012 while the Dukes drop to 1-1.

For the game, the Penguins finished with 377 yards of total offense while the defense forced three turnovers and held Duquesne to just 206 yards.

All three quarterbacks accounted for touchdowns as Nate Mays finished the contest 8-of-11 for 131 yards while also picking up 63 yards on the ground to go along with a score. Freshman Mark Waid picked up his first collegiate touchdowns on a pair of rushing scores in the first half while Joe Craycraft threw a 31-yard touchdown strike in the second quarter.

Joe Alessi finished as the leading rusher with 75 yards on 11 carries and Miles Joiner was the leading receiver for the Penguins catching three passes for 88 yards all on third down conversions.

The defense, which forced two interceptions and a fumble, was led by Kyle Hegedus, Zaire Jones and DeMarko Craig Jr., as they each registered seven tackles. Bryce Gibson and DJ Smalls came up with interceptions while Hegedus forced the fumble which was recovered by Jones. 

The Penguins marched right down the field on their opening possession to take a 7-0 lead just four minutes into the game. YSU picked up a huge third down conversion when Mays connected with Miles Joiner on a 58-yard pickup down to the Duquesne 17-yard line. Waid capped off the drive by punching in a six-yard touchdown.

After a bad snap on a field-goal attempt from the Dukes, the Penguins extended their lead to 14-0 at the 14:55 mark in the second quarter. The 10 play, 80-yard drive was finished off by a one-yard touchdown run from Waid, his second score of the afternoon.

Following an interception by Gibson, Joe Craycraft hit an uncovered London Pearson streaking down the sideline for a 31-yard touchdown pass to extend the Penguins lead to 21-0 with 14:14 remaining in the half.

Duquesne responded with a touchdown drive of their own to make the score 21-7 at the 8:35 mark in the second quarter. The Dukes 10 play, 78-yard scoring drive was capped off by a one-handed touchdown grab from Jake Dixon from four yards out.

The Penguins defense forced their second turnover of the first half when Ray Anderson tipped a pass that was intercepted by Smalls at the YSU 40-yard line with 5:23 remaining in the half.

At the half, the Penguins produced 198 yards of offense while the Dukes were held to just 98 total yards. Mays was 4-of-7 for 99 yards and ran for 40 yards on five carries. The defense was led by Craig and Jones as they each recorded five tackles.

With the Dukes marching down the field on their opening possession of the second half, Hegedus punched the ball out of the arms of Mark Allen before it was scooped up by Jones at the YSU 14-yard line.

The Penguins turned the turnover into six points to take a 27-7 lead with 3:11 remaining in the third quarter. Nate Mays punched in the touchdown on a fourth and one from the Dukes four-yard line to finish off a seven play, 80-yard drive.

YSU extended their lead to 34-7 with 8:08 remaining in the contest after Christian Turner bounced the ball outside for a 16-yard touchdown to finish off another 10 play scoring drive.

The Dukes added a touchdown late in the contest to bring the score to 34-14 as Lentivone Lesane found the end zone from four yards out.

Following a bye week, the Penguins will return to Stambaugh Stadium on Saturday, September 28 when they host Robert Morris at 6 p.m.