The backup tailback said the offensive line was opening huge holes against Elon.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- Mike Burns just couldn't believe the size of the holes that he was running through Saturday in Youngstown State's 45-7 victory over Elon University in the Penguins' final regular season game at Stambaugh Stadium.
Burns, the 6-foot-1, 232-pound sophomore tailback from Niles, had carried the ball just 38 times and gained 197 yards in nine previous games in a backup role to junior starter P.J. Mays.
Saturday, after Mays left the game with 170 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns, Burns was called on to take over.
The former Red Dragon standout finished the game with 116 yards on 10 carries and one touchdown, his career best since becoming a Penguin.
Biggest hole: He had four carries over 10 yards, including his 44-yard touchdown run in the second period that he said was the biggest hole he's seen in his life.
"The offensive line was doing just a tremendous job blocking all day, and the holes were so big that just about anybody could have run through them," Burns said.
But on the touchdown run, the hole was mammoth.
"I got the hand-off and there was nobody in front of me," he said. "I was in the open as soon as I passed the line and I just went as fast and as hard as I could go."
Milestone: It marked the first time that two YSU running backs had rushed for over 100 yards in the same game since 1997, when Jake Andreadis and Adrian Brown rushed for 107 and 104 yards against Kent State.
Burns wasn't the only Penguin who had a big game.
Junior tight end Dennis Dlugosz, the 6-3, 232-pound performer from Avon Lake, shared the receiving lead for the Penguins with four catches, and three of them led to YSU touchdowns.
Dlugosz thought he had a touchdown pass of his own in the fourth quarter, only it was nullified by a penalty.
Dlugosz made a short catch from Ryan at about the Elon 40-yard line and was hit, but he spun away and appeared to be down. However, he used his hand to keep him off the ground, got back up and streaked down the sidelines for an apparent score. But the Penguins were called for holding at the 4-yard line. Two plays later, Colby Street scored YSU's final touchdown.
"I knew that I wasn't down on the play as I used my hand to keep me off the turf," Dlugosz said. "I'd have liked to have the touchdown, but we still scored on the drive and that's what's important."
Just happened: YSU's 31-second drive just before the half was something that just happened, according to quarterback Jeff Ryan.
Ryan threw four passes in that drive, all to senior wide receiver Sean Guerriero, the last one for a touchdown of 13 yards.
"It was one of those deals where we went in there to see how far we could get and possibly break one," said Ryan, who led the drive 62 yards and there was still nine seconds left when it was over.
All four passes to Guerriero were sideline tosses where he took it and stepped out, and on the final grab he had to keep himself in bounds while catching Ryan's perfectly-thrown pass.