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Big game carries big question mark



Published: Wed, September 12, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Tuesday's terrorist attacks has put Saturday's game with Toledo in question.

By PETE MOLLICA

VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF

YOUNGSTOWN -- It might be the biggest regular season football game in Youngstown State history, if it is played.

The Penguins (2-0) are scheduled to play at Toledo (2-0) Saturday night at the Glass Bowl. But whether the game will be played at all following Tuesday's terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, is still questionable.

The University of Toledo held a coaches and athletic director's conference call this morning and the Rockets announced intentions of going ahead and playing Saturday's game.

Mid-American Conference commissioner Rick Chryst was in conference with other commisioners around the country and was to have the final decision later today.

The Penguins called off practice Tuesday afternoon.

"Everybody is just sitting back and waiting to see what happens next," said YSU coach Jon Heacock. "Right now, the way things are going, I don't see anybody playing this weekend.

"It's just devastating what happened today and people all over the country are being affected by the tragedy," he added. "We had players and coaches who had family traveling by air today and they've been scrambling trying to find out if they are safe."

Wait and see: Heacock said more will be determined when President George W. Bush allows air travel to resume.

"A team like San Diego State will have to get on a plane Thursday night or early Friday morning to fly to Columbus to play at Ohio State Saturday," Heacock added. "If air transportation isn't cleared by then, that game will be canceled. If that game is canceled then other games around the country will be canceled including our game at Toledo.

"Even though we'll be traveling by bus to Toledo, the fact remains that over 30,000 people will be at the Glass Bowl for that game and I don't know if the President wants even that many people together in one spot during this crisis." Heacock said.

Ready to go: At least one member of the Penguin football team is hoping the game will go on.

Junior defensive lineman Matt Mechling (6-foot-4, 257 pounds), an All-Gateway Conference selection last year and a pre-season pick this year, didn't play in the first two games because of a rib injury, but was expected to be ready for Saturday.

Mechling said not playing has been one of the most difficult experiences in his football career.

"I can't even remember the last time I haven't played in a game before this year," he said. "I don't know what to do with myself out there. I've been going crazy.

"They told me I could put on my pads last week if I wanted to, but I said no because I would have probably been batting myself against the stadium walls down there if I did that," he added.

Tuesday Mechling was looking for something to do with himself.

"I heard on television that they were looking for people to come out to the airport to help put food and clothing onto planes to send to those areas that needed them. I'm thinking about going out there just to help out and keep myself busy," he added.

Mechling praised his defensive teammates, who have carried on without his help in the first two games.

"They've been awesome this year and I just can't wait to get in there and help out," he said.

The Penguins defeated Lock Haven 38-7 in the season opener and then rolled past Clarion 44-0 last Saturday. The Penguins are ranked No. 3 in the Sports Network Division I-AA poll, behind two-time defending champion Georgia Southern and Montana.

Toledo, which defeated Minnesota 38-7 in its opener and Temple 33-7 last week, is ranked 27th by The Associated Press and No. 28 in the USA Today/ESPN poll.

mollica@vindy.com




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