The Newton Falls graduate got an unpleasant greeting from the YSU defense.
By BRIAN RICHESSON
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- Adam Almashy admitted he was sore. It was easy to understand why.
The Youngstown State football team didn't have any mercy on Almashy, the Clarion quarterback and Newton Falls High graduate.
The Penguins didn't care that Almashy was making a return to the Mahoning Valley as the third-year starter of a Clarion offense that thrives on its option offensive attack.
The 6-foot, 2-inch, 190-pound Almashy had red jerseys in his face throughout Saturday's game, which ended in Youngstown State's 44-0 victory at Stambaugh Stadium.
"It was exciting," Almashy said of his return. "I had a lot of people from my hometown here. I just wish we could have played like we know we could have."
Running for his life: Almashy, who carried 24 times for 47 yards, was sacked three times and battered a number of others trying to run free from tacklers, most of the time on the option. Youngstown State had 16 tackles for loss.
"It was fast," Almashy said of Youngstown State's defense, "but [the result] shouldn't have been as bad as it was."
Clarion was plagued by both an inability to move the ball consistently and a number of turnovers, particularly in the second quarter when the Golden Eagles suffered four -- three fumbles and an Almashy interception.
"Coach [Jon Heacock] stressed in practice to keep the ball inside and in front [of us], so I credit the coaches," Youngstown State senior safety Bruce Hightower said of defending Clarion's wing-T option offense. "We tried to get prepared for it in case we see it in the playoffs."
Rough night: Almashy, who completed 5-of-15 passes for 65 yards, also was intercepted on Clarion's first drive -- by Youngstown State senior cornerback LeVar Greene. The Golden Eagles had moved from their own 22-yard line to Youngstown State's 49 before the turnover.
From there, the game unraveled for Clarion.
"We knew we had to have something go right for us early," said Clarion coach Malen Luke. "We were put behind the eight-ball early."
Luke also noted that his team was hampered by the injuries to several linemen.
"At our level [Division II], when you lose a quality player, that's a big hole to fill," Luke said. "We don't have enough depth.
"We just have to overcome our poor performance and focus on the last nine games that we have."
Hitting the skids: Almashy's rough outing Saturday came one week after Clarion lost its season opener at East Stroudsburg, 33-27. In that game, the quarterback completed 8-of-31 passes for 93 yards and one touchdown as the Golden Eagles' rally fell short.
"In '96, we came over here and got whacked [51-10], but we went to the [national] semifinals that year," Luke said, recalling an earlier meeting between his team and Youngstown State. "I think we're going to use the same approach.
"We lost a football game. That's all we lost," he said. "If we go to the national championship game, we will not play as good of a team as we played tonight."