Penguins Play Final Non-League Contest Against Robert Morris

QB Mark Waid
QB Mark Waid

    The 20th-ranked Youngstown State football team closes out the non-conference season against Robert Morris on Saturday night at Stambaugh Stadium. Kickoff against the Colonials is set for 6:05 p.m. The game is available on ESPN+, WKBN 570 AM and iHeartRadio.
    YSU (3-0) had last Saturday off following a 34-14 win over Duquesne on Sept. 14. The Penguins built a 21-0 lead over the Dukes and won their third straight game to open the season.
    In the first quarter, freshman QB Mark Waid scored the first touchdown of his career on a six-yard run. Waid added a one-yard run on the first play of the second quarter to give the Guins a 14-0. YSU was back in the end zone just 41 seconds later thanks to a turnover. Bryce Gibson's first interception of his career set up the offense at the Duquesne 31. On the first snap following the interception, Joe Craycraft found London Pearson for a 31-yard touchdown as YSU went in front 21-0.
    Duquesne closed within 21-7 midway through the second quarter on a four-yard scoring pass from Daniel Parr to Jake Dixon. YSU used two impressive scoring drives to boost its advantage to 34-7 in the second half. QB Nathan Mays capped off a nine-play 79-yard drive with a four-yard touchdown run with 3:11 left in the third. In the fourth, YSU marched 73 yards in 10 plays with Christian Turner scoring on a 16-yard run with 8:08 left.
    Robert Morris (1-3) picked up its first win of the season defeating VMI 31-21 last Saturday. RMU, which suffered close home losses to Kentucky State and Dayton, jumped out to a 14-3 first-quarter lead on the Keydets and led by more than a touchdown throughout the game. Teren Stephens had two rushing scores while Alijah Jackson added a score.
    This will be the fourth all-time meeting between the programs and first since September 2017. In the 2017 contest, YSU picked up its first shutout victory in five seasons with a 30-0 win over Robert Morris. Despite losing starting QB Hunter Wells on the first series of the game, the offense scored three touchdowns and PK Zak Kennedy made three field goals. YSU outgained RMU 429-147 in the contest as well.

 

Quick Notes
• YSU and Towson (plus-9) lead the FCS in turnover margin. The Penguins have forced 10 turnovers and have just one giveaway through three games.
• The Penguins rank fourth in the FCS in rushing yards per game (309.5) and scoring offense (44.3 points).
• All three of YSU's wins have been by more than 20 points to start the campaign.
• The defense has forced 10 turnovers in just three games. YSU forced a total of nine in 11 games in 2018.
• YSU has five players who have rushed for at least 148 yards and have scored a touchdown.
• DB Bryce Gibson intercepted the first pass of his career in the win over Duquesne. Gibson has started all 25 games of his career with YSU.
• The Penguins saw three different quarterbacks take snaps vs. Duquesne and all three accounted for touchdowns. Mark Waid and Nathan Mays had rushing scores and Joe Craycraft had a touchdown pass.
• WR Ryan Emans threw his first career pass while Mays had his first career reception in the contest.
• YSU limited the Dukes to just 69 yards passing in the contest. Duquesne had 56 of its 206 yards of total offense on its final drive of the game.
• TE Miles Joiner caught a career-high three receptions and a career-best 88 yards against Duquesne. His 58-yard reception tied for a career long.
Braxton Chapman had 132 yards rushing and London Pearson had 126 vs. Howard on Sept. 7. It was the 35th time in school history that YSU had multiple 100-yard rushers.

Last Time Out: YSU 34, Duquesne 14
    YSU forced three turnovers and scored four rushing touchdowns in a 34-14 victory over Duquesne at Stambaugh Stadium.
    In the first quarter, QB Mark Waid scored the first touchdown of his career on a six-yard run. Waid added a one-yard run on the first play of the second quarter to give the Guins a 14-0. YSU was back in the end zone just 41 seconds later thanks to a turnover. Bryce Gibson's first interception of his career set up the offense at the Duquesne 31. On the play following the interception, Joe Craycraft found London Pearson for a 31-yard touchdown.
    Duquesne closed within 21-7 midway through the second quarter on a four-yard scoring pass from Daniel Parr to Jake Dixon. YSU used two impressive scoring drives to boost its advantage to 34-7 in the second half. QB Nathan Mays capped off a nine-play 79-yard drive with a four-yard touchdown run with 3:11 left in the third. In the fourth, YSU marched 73 yards in 10 plays with Christian Turner scoring on a 16-yard run with 8:08 left.

Last Time vs. RMU
    YSU picked up its first shutout victory since September 2012 with a 30-0 win over Robert Morris on Sept. 9, 2017, at Stambaugh Stadium. Despite losing starting QB Hunter Wells on the first series of the game, the offense scored three touchdowns and PK Zak Kennedy made three field goals. YSU outgained RMU 429-147 in the contest as well.
    QB Nathan Mays came on in replace of Wells and completed 13-of-17 passes for 149 yards while rushing for 63 yards on seven carries. In the second quarter, Mays had the first rushing touchdown of his YSU career taking it in from 10 yards out. In the fourth quarter, Mays connected with TE Kevin Rader on a five-yard score before Tevin McCaster finished off the scoring with a 10-yard run.

Pennsylvania Visitors
    The Penguins have had a tremendous amount of success against visitors from the Keystone State.
    The last time YSU lost a home game to a team from Pennsylvania was to Villanova on Oct. 28, 1978 (22-17).
    Since that time, the Guins have won 36 straight home games against teams from Pennsylvania.
    Most of those contests came against members of the Division II PSAC. YSU has four wins over Duquesne, three over Robert Morris and Saint Francis (Pa.) and a pair of wins against Villanova in the winning streak.

Non-Conference Home Success
      YSU has won 36 of its last 38 non-conference home games since September 2004. The two setbacks came against  Liberty in 2008 (31-28) and Butler in 2018 (23-21).
    Since falling to the Flames on Sept. 27, 2008, the Penguins had won 20 straight at home against non-conference foes until a loss to the Bulldogs in 2018. Both defeats came on final-play field goals.

AFCA Coach To Cure Game
     Against Robert Morris our coaching staff will be wearing special arm patches in honor of the AFCA's Coach to Cure MD program. This is the 12th year coaches around the country join together to raise funding and awareness of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Fans can participate by texting the word CURE to 501501 to donate $25 on their next mobile phone bills, or by logging on to CoachToCureMD.org to make a donation to their favorite coach, or by sharing our content from @CoachToCureMD's Twitter account.

1979 and 1994 Teams Honored
    The 1979 team is being recognized 40 years after reaching the NCAA Division II National Championship Game while the 1994 program is being honored on the 25th Anniversary of their National Championship.
    The 1994 team is possibly the greatest in school history posting a 14-0-1 record. The Penguins reeled off 14 consecutive wins following a season-opening tie. YSU capped off the season with a 28-14 victory over Boise State in the FCS National Championship Game in Huntington, W. Va. YSU set the school record for wins during the campaign.
    The 1979 team was the most successful Division II team in school history. YSU finished the season with an 11-2 mark and defeated South Dakota State and Alabama A&M in the playoffs advancing to the Zia Bowl - the Divison II National Championship Game - in Albuquerque, N.M. YSU dropped a 38-21 decision to Delaware in the title game.

Turnovers on the Uptick
    The YSU defense has made it a habit of forcing turnovers so far in 2019. YSU has caused 10 turnovers in the three games – 4 four vs. Samford, 3 vs. Howard and 3 vs. Duquesne. In 11 games in 2018, the Penguins caused just nine turnovers.
    The last time the Penguins forced three-or-more turnovers in consecutive games was back in 2002.
    In just three games this season, the Guins have intercepted six passes, which eclipses the total from each of the past two seasons. YSU had three interceptions in 2018 and five in 2017.
    Senior DB DJ Smalls has intercepted a pass in three straight seasons following his first interception of the year vs. Duquesne last Saturday.

Emans With First Completion
    Senior WR Ryan Emans completed the first pass attempt of his career in the win over Duquesne. Emans tossed an 18-yard pass to QB Nathan Mays in the fourth quarter.
    Emans was the first position player to complete a pass since Jamaine Cook threw a touchdown to tight end Will Shaw against Pittsburgh in the Penguins' 2012 upset of the Panthers. He is the first wide receiver to complete a pass in a game since Dominique Barnes threw a 50-yard toss to Ely Ducatel in 2010 vs. Indiana State.

Three Wins By 20 Points
    All three of YSU's wins have been by more than 20 points to start the campaign. YSU defeated Samford 45-22, Howard 54-28 and Duquesne 34-14. The last time YSU won three straight games by at least 20 points came back in 2007. During the final three games of a four-game winning streak, YSU beat Stony Brook 42-6, Lock Haven 35-3 and Missouri State 49-31.
    The Penguins are off to their best start to a season since 2012, when they opened the year 4-0.

Three QB Attack
    The Penguins played three quarterbacks in the win over Duquesne, and, all were involved in scoring touchdowns.
    Freshman QB Mark Waid made his YSU debut and scored a pair of rushing touchdowns. Senior Nathan Mays scored on a four-yard run in the third quarter. Sophomore Joe Craycraft threw the first touchdown pass of his career when he connected with London Pearson on a 31-yard scoring toss in the second quarter.

One-Hit Wonders
    The Penguins have four one-play drives this season. YSU scored on three one-play drives against Howard, all of which came in the second half. YSU added a one-play score against Duquesne.
    With 7:25 left in the third quarter, Joe Alessi scored on a 40-yard touchdown run to give the Penguins a 40-21 lead over the Bison. On YSU's next offensive play, Braxton Chapman raced 78 yards for a score with 2:16 left in the third.  After YSU had a five-play series, London Pearson ripped off a 75-yard touchdown run with 11:25 left in the game.
    In the win over Duquesne, Joe Craycraft threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to Pearson.

Pounding the Rock Continues
    The Penguins have one of the most prolific rushing offenses in the FCS. YSU has 928 yards rushing, 6.6 yards per carry and is averaging 309.3 yards per contest. YSU is among the leaders in the nation with 13 rushing touchdowns.
    YSU had its most balanced offensive performance against Duquesne. YSU had 180 yards passing and 197 rushing the Dukes.
    The Guins followed up a 277-yard performance vs. Samford with a 454-yard effort in a win over Howard. Helping out the cause were 78 yard runs by Braxton Chapman and 75 by London Pearson.

More INTS in 2019
    The Penguins have intercepted six passes in three games this- year. YSU had three in 11 games a year ago and had just five in 2017. The Guins equaled their 2018 total in the season opener vs. Samford with three INTs.
    The three interceptions against the Bulldogs
were the most interceptions in a single game for the program since Sept. 26, 2009, at Indiana State.

Impressive Scoring Runs
    The Penguins have gone on big runs to seize control of the game in each of their first three games.
    Against Samford, YSU trailed 7-0 before scoring 31 unanswered points in the contest. In the contest vs. Howard, the Guins went a on 41-7 scoring run which covered the second and third quarters. In the win over Duquesne, YSU jumped out to a 21-0 lead and went on to win by 20 points.

Craig, Richmond Make Impact
    Senior DE Ma'lik Richmond and redshirt freshman DT DeMarko Craig have made big impacts through the first three contests.
    Together, the duo has combined for 32 total tackles (18 solos), nine tackles for losses and four sacks.
    Craig has 19 stops, including seven each against Howard and Duquesne. Richmond now has 13, including a career-best eight vs. Howard.

Reed Among Nation's Elite
    Senior DE Justus Reed ranks among the FCS leaders in sacks per game averaging 1.5 a contest. He has a total of 4.5 sacks on the year after three games. Last year's sack leader for YSU was Savon Smith with six in 11 games.
    Through two games this season, Reed his just a half sack shy of his career-high five which he set in 2017. He had a would-be sack, fumble overruled by the Instant Replay crew against Duquesne who called him for targeting.

Next Tailback Up
    The Penguins have had a first-team All-MVFC selection at tailback for three straight seasons, but in 2019 its been an impressive tailback-by-committee effort through three games.
    Tevin McCaster was selected first-team All-MVFC in 2018 and earned the nod previously in 2017. In 2016, Martin Ruiz earned first-team honors. The last time a school had a tailback earn first-team honors in four straight years was Southern Illinois from 2000-03.
    This year's group of Joe Alessi, Christian Turner, Braxton Chapman and London Pearson  has a combined 727 yards on 89 carries and scored 10 touchdowns. Alessi leads the Penguins with 33 carries for 201 yards. Chapman and Turner are co-leaders with three touchdowns.

Keep Up With The Joneses
    The Penguins have had solid performances from newcomers Matt Jones (West Virginia) and Zaire Jones (Vanderbilt).
    Matt Jones has started all three games at center for the Penguins and helped anchor an offense that is amongest the nation's leaders in rushing.
    Zaire Jones had quite a debut against Samford recording two interceptions and five total tackles. Jones was the first Penguin since LeRoy Alexander had two picks in a game since 2015 (Pittsburgh). That was also Alexanders'  YSU debut. In three games, Jones has 13 total tackles and added a fumble recovery against Duquesne.

D-Line Totally New
    The Penguins had four players start the opener on the defensive line that didn't start a year ago - and all four made their starting debuts against Samford.
    The new group of DEs Justus Reed, Ma'lik Richmond and DTs Antoine Cook and DeMarko Craig has been solid so far this season.
    Reed missed the 2018 campaign with an injury, Cook was a reserve defensive end, Craig redshirted and Richmond was a pass-rush specialist who had three sacks.
    Against Samford, the four players combined for 14 tackles, four TFLs and three sacks. In the contest vs. Howard, they combined for 24 tackles, 6.5 TFLs and five sacks. Craig had seven tackles and Cook added five against Duquesne.
    Last year's season opening starting defensive line featured DE Shereif Bynum, DT Wes Thompson, DT Savon Smith and DE Johnson Louigene. Bynum and Thompson have seen action in reserve roles this season.

Team of Graduates
    The Penguins have an impressive amount of college graduates on this year's squad.
    QB Nathan Mays, WR Ryan Emans, OL James Wilson, DB Sam McGuigan and DB Kyle Hegedus are all in graduate courses at YSU after earning their degrees. Joining that group are graduate transfers Matt Jones (West Virginia) and Myles Douglas (Tennessee Tech).

16 Remain From 2016 Season
    A total of 16 Penguins remain on the roster from the 2016 National Runner-Up team.
    Those players are: Joe Alessi, Jermiah Braswell, Shereif Bynum, Ryan Emans, Norman Fox, Kyle Hegedus, Nathan Mays, Devon McNutt, Malachi Newell, London Pearson, Christiaan Randall-Posey, Darius Shackleford, Samuel St. Surin, Zack Torbert, James Wilson and Jacob Zinni.
    Those that played in the National Championship Game at some point were Braswell, Mays, Alessi, Randall-Posey, Torbert and Emans.

McFadden Times Three
    The Penguins added Kent State transfer Colt McFadden in the spring, and that last  name is very familiar to YSU Football fans.
    His father, Paul, played for the Penguins from 1980-83, while his brother Connor, was with the program from 2013-16. Both his father and brother were placekickers.
    Colt McFadden had a successful YSU debut kicking a 43-yard field goal in the second quarter and making six PAT kicks. This season he is 16-of-19 on PAT tries.
    Paul McFadden finished his career with 240 points making 52 field goals and 78 PATs. He earned notoriety for being a barefoot-style kicker. Connor McFadden played a big role in YSU's playoff run in 2016. In the quarterfinals against Wofford, he converted a PAT kick in overtime.

LBs Have Strong Group
    LBs Ray Anderson, Christiaan Randall-Posey and Cash Mitchell give the Penguins good experience at that position.
    Last year, Mitchell led the group with 35 tackles and started seven contests. Randall-Posey finished with 30 total tackles, including 23 solos. He started three games.
    Anderson came on strong at the end of the campaign and finished with 22 total tackles, including 14 solos. He started five games  in conference play and 20 of his 22 tackles came against MVFC foes.
    This season, Anderson has 11 tackles, Mitchell has 10 and Randall-Posey has five.

Secondary Has Depth
    The Penguins secondary has stepped up this season. The unit has six interceptions through three games. Five different players already have an interception. Of those five, four have recorded their first career INT.
    Only DJ Smalls has multiple career picks. Smalls acutally has an interception each of the past three years.
    This year, SS Zaire Jones and CB Dee Ford have joined forces with CB Bryce Gibson and FS Kyle Hegedus to be the starters in the secondary.
    Gibson is a three-year starter, Jones transferred to YSU from Vanderbilt, Ford is a true freshman and Hegedus is back after missing the 2018 season.
    Hegedus missed the 2018 season with a knee injury. Hegedus had 74 total tackles, 46 solos and two fumble recoveries in 10 starts in 2017.
    Smalls has moved to a nickelback role while reserves Jaelin Madison, Melvin Jackson and John Harper have all seen playing time.
    Ford intercepted the first pass of his career against Howard and returned it for a touchdown, but that was called back because of an illegal blocking penalty.

O-Line Transfers
    YSU added a pair of graduate transfers to bolster the offensive line in 2019. The Penguins picked up center Matt Jones, who was a two-year starter at West Virginia, and Myles Douglas, who started every game in 2017 at Tennessee Tech.
    Jones is a native of nearby Hubbard, Ohio, and started the final 25 games of his career for the Mountaineers. He started against the Penguins last September in Morgantown.
    Additionally, YSU added junior college transfers Jordan Velez and Jadan Starks.
    Douglas made the first start of his career against Howard.

Schedule Rarities in 2019
    For the first time since 2004, the Penguins will not play an FBS team during their schedule. YSU is playing an all-FCS schedule for the just the second time in school history. The lone other time the Guins had a slate full of FCS opponents was back in 1983.
    From 1989 through 2004 the Guins hosted a Division II program in all but one season (1993). From 1984 to 1988, the schedule was full of FBS opponents as the Penguins played a total of 12 games vs. upper-level foes. YSU played FBS Cincinnati in 1981 and 1982, the first two years it was an FCS program.
    Additionally, YSU will play seven home games for the first time since 2014.

Becker, Zinni Anchor Line
    The most veteran YSU players on the offensive line are sophomore LT Dan Becker and senior LG Jacob Zinni.
    Becker started the first nine games at left tackle in 2018 and played in all 11 contests. Zinni started the final two games of the year at guard. In 2017, Zinni started the first five games at right guard.
    The only other lineman to previously start a game at YSU who returns from last year is Devon Robinson. Robinson made a pair of starts at right tackle in 2018.
    All three players have started the first three games. Senior graduate transfers Matt Jones and Myles Douglas have combined to make five starts this year.

Numbers of Note
• Turnover Margin: Since 1996, the Penguins are 140-37 when they win or tie in the turnover margin. When committing more turnovers, YSU is just 27-72.
Since 1990 YSU is:
• 167-21-2 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points in a game.
• 143-18 when rushing for 200-plus yards.
• 165-28 when scoring 28-or-more points.
• 88-10-1 when holding opponents to fewer than 100 yards rushing in a game.
• 195-16 when leading entering the fourth.
• 89-3-2 when holding opponents to 10 points-or-less in a game.