Penguins Bounce Back With 59-14 Win Over Western Illinois

Joe Alessi (Photo by Os Figueroa)
Joe Alessi (Photo by Os Figueroa)

Youngstown, Ohio – The Youngstown State football team used 45 points in the first half to defeat Western Illinois 59-14 on a rainy Saturday afternoon at Stambaugh Stadium.

The Penguins' 45-point win over the Leathernecks ties the largest margin of victory over a conference opponent in program history.

The Penguins snap their three game losing streak moving to 5-3 overall and 1-3 in the MVFC while the Leathernecks fall to 0-8 and 0-4 in the conference.

For the game, the Penguins gained 524 yards of offense while forcing the Leathernecks into three turnovers and holding them to 260 yards.

Nathan Mays finished with 186 yards through the air to go along with a career high four touchdowns. Joe Craycraft played a majority of the second half finishing with 94 yards and a score.

Miles Joiner had a game-high three reception for 51 yards and touchdown while Jermiah Braswell finished with two catches for 94 yards and a pair of scores.

On the ground, Joe Alessi ran for 153 yards on 13 carries while finding the end zone two times all in the first half. Braxton Chapman carried the ball 13 times for 62 yards and a touchdown.

The Penguins went right down the field on the opening drive of the game to take a 7-0 lead with 13:50 left in the first quarter. Joe Alessi bounced a run outside for a 44-yard touchdown scamper to cap off a three play, 59-yard drive.

After going three-and-out on their first offensive possession, the Leathernecks took advantage of good field possession to tie the game at 7-7. Connor Sampson connected with Clint Rakvotich on 33-yard seam route for the score.

The Penguins responded on their next possession to regain the lead with 7:33 remaining in the first quarter. Alessi found the end zone for his second touchdown of the afternoon when he busted through the middle of the line for a 56-yard touchdown to make the score 14-7.

Following a turnover by the Leathernecks, the Penguins took a play action shot down the field where Mays found Braswell for a 40-yard touchdown strike to take a 21-7 lead.

The Penguins extended their lead to 28-7 late in the first quarter when Braswell caught his second score of the game. Craycraft finished off a five play, 80-yard drive with a 54-yard touchdown throw to Braswell.

To open the second quarter, the Penguins went on 11 play drive that covered more than six minutes to push their lead to 35-7. On fourth and goal Mays rolled out to his left where he hit a wide open Christian Turner on one-yard touchdown pass.

Jake Coates set up the Penguins with another scoring chance in the final minutes of the first half when he returned a punt 81-yards down the Western Illinois nine-yard line. Colt McFadden increased the Penguins' lead to 38-7 after converting a 25-yard field goal.

On the final play of the first half, Mays rolled out to his right and threw a pass into end zone where Kendrick Mallory was able to pull it in to make the score 45-7 at the break.

At the half, the Penguins produced 380 yards of offense while the Leathernecks were held to just 100 yards. Mays finished the half 8-of-15 for 148 yards and three scores while running for 15 yards on six carries. Alessi rushed for 156 yards on 13 carries to go along with a pair of scores.

On the Penguins first drive of the second half, Mays extended the lead to 52-7 when he found a wide open Miles Joiner for a 22-yard touchdown to give him four passing scores for the game.

Chapman found the end zone in the closing seconds of the third quarter on a two-yard touchdown run to finish off a 10 play 61-yard scoring drive making the score 59-7.

Western Illinois found the end zone with 12:43 remaining in the game to make the score 59-14 after Ratcovich scored his second touchdown of the game.

The Penguins return to Stambaugh Stadium next Saturday when they welcome No. 1 North Dakota for a 6 p.m. kick off.