YSU FOOTBALL Ryan's play ignited team
The senior quarterback from Boardman was the offensive player of the game against Western Illinois.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- Youngstown State senior quarterback Jeff Ryan was named the team's offensive player of the week following Saturday's 41-7 Gateway Conference victory over Western Illinois.
Statistically it wasn't one of Ryan's better games, but the 6-foot, 185-pounder from Boardman has always been interested in only one statistic -- winning.
Ryan completed just 3-of-9 passes for 73 yards. He misfired on his first four attempts, and his fifth wasn't a thing of beauty either. It traveled no more than 5 or 6 yards and he threw it with both hands, a shuffle pass to junior tailback P.J. Mays and the end result was a 50-yard touchdown play.
"It was a play that we had been working on these past two weeks in practice," Ryan said. "I probably had the least to do on the play, the line blocked great and P.J. just made one hell of a run."
YSU coach Jon Heacock had a differing opinion.
"That play is a good one, but it is very difficult to run to perfection," Heacock said. "Jeff has to make a great fake to start and then get the ball to P.J."
Sets up score: Ryan's other completions in the game were a 13-yarder to junior wide receiver Jerald Burley and a 10-yard strike to junior tight end John Schumacher. Both came in the opening drive of the third quarter which resulted in a 13-yard touchdown run by Ryan.
Ryan was the Penguins' leading rusher with 60 yards on 15 carries. He made a diving effort to get to the end zone for the score.
Later in that same quarter Ryan had an opportunity to score again, but when he leaped for the end zone he lost the football and it went into the end zone and out of bounds for a touchback.
"We made some good plays and some not-so-good," Ryan added. "We definitely still have a way to go. But if the offensive line continues to block the way they have and P.J. and the receivers keep doing their job we have a chance in the Gateway and that's our main goal right now."
Defensive honors went to junior linebacker Russell Stuvaints, a 6-0, 197-pounder from McKeesport, Pa.
Stuvaints led the team with 11 tackles, including five behind the line of scrimmage. He also forced a fumble and had two quarterback sacks.
Special team honors went to senior defensive back Antulio Aroche (6-0, 184), from Los Angeles, Calif., who blocked a punt, which was recovered at the WIU 6-yard line and led to YSU's first touchdown. Aroche also had five tackles, one of them for a loss.
Top linemen: The offensive lineman of the game was sophomore guard Nick Roberts, the former Champion High standout, who helped the offense to 260 total yards, including 187 on the ground.
Junior tackle Guy Mazard (6-2, 287) of Miami, Fla., was the defensive lineman of the game. He finished with six tackles, including two for losses, and a forced fumble.
For the second straight week the Derrick Pixley Hit of the Week was recorded by Stuvaints, with his hit of Western Illinois quarterback Sam Clemons on the final play of the first half.
The Haines Family Player of the Week, selected by the YSU radio broadcasters, was LaVar Greene, a 5-9, 166-pound defensive back from Miami, who had two pass interceptions, returning one 23 yards for a touchdown.