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COLLEGE FOOTBALL Elon coach familiar with YSU



Published: Thu, November 15, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Al Seagraves competed against Youngstown State in the 1992 Division I-AA playoffs.

By PETE MOLLICA

VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF

YOUNGSTOWN -- Youngstown State and Elon never have met on the football field, but that doesn't mean that Phoenix coach Al Seagraves doesn't know about the Penguins.

Before arriving at Elon six years ago, Seagraves spent 10 seasons as an assistant coach at The Citadel, and in 1992 coached against Youngstown State in the I-AA playoffs. The Penguins won that game 42-17 in Charleston, S.C.

On Saturday, Elon meets the Penguins in a 1 p.m. game at Stambaugh Stadium.

Youngstown State (7-2) is ranked No. 6 in the Sports Network I-AA poll.

Playing ranked teams is nothing new for Elon, which has been nicknamed the "Notre Dame of I-AA" by some. The Phoenix (2-8) have played seven teams ranked in the I-AA poll this season.

Lost close game: Last Saturday, Elon led No. 2 Georgia Southern for much of the game until allowing the winning score in the final 30 seconds, losing 27-21.

The Phoenix also have lost to No. 4 Furman 46-7, No. 10 Hofstra 42-21, No. 12 Western Kentucky 24-7, No. 16 Northwestern State 24-6 and No. 22 North Carolina A & amp;T 23-7.

Their two wins have come against Gardner-Webb (27-14) and Charleston Southern (39-16).

"This schedule has taken a lot out of this team," said Seagraves. "We only hope we have enough left for this week.

"It's remarkable the road that we've come down this season," he continued. "Last week's effort bolstered this team's confidence."

Wishbone offense: The Phoenix run a wishbone offense, something Youngstown State doesn't get a chance to see much in the Gateway Conference. The closest was Western Kentucky's option.

"Our defense has played well most of the season," Seagraves said. "Our kicking game has really struggled. We've missed some easy field goals, really just chip shots. We've been very inconsistent there."

Elon averages 214 rushing yards per contest. They have six backs with over 200 yards and those six have scored 18 of the team's 19 rushing touchdowns. Junior fullback Marti Swindell (6-foot-2, 225 pounds) leads with 551 yards on 90 carries.

Freshman James Murdaugh (6-0, 190) will start at quarterback. He's thrown for 235 yards and three touchdowns, while sophomore backup C.W. Singletary has passed for 426 yards and five touchdowns.

Junior wide receiver Arketa Banks has 22 of the team's 41 pass receptions, for 538 yards and six touchdowns.

Kicking change: Placekicker Beau Wegmann started the season, but missed all four of his field goals attempts and was 15-for-19 in extra points. He's been replaced by freshman William Rawls, who hasn't tried a field goal, but is 7-for-7 in PATs.

Leading the defense in tackles is senior strong safety Marshall Rickenbacker with 69, including two for losses. Sophomore defensive end Wesley Wheeler, second on the team in tackles with 48, leads the way with tackles for losses with 10, including four sacks.

The Phoenix have intercepted eight passes, with sophomore free safety Shaun Miller leading the way with three.

Sophomore Rashaud Palmer is averaging 20.3 yards per kickoff return, while Banks carries a 14.9 average in punt returns.

"Youngstown State might just be the best team that we've played this season," Seagraves said. "I'm familiar with their program since I coached against them at The Citadel. I remember them well."




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