YSU defense shines in scrimmage
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- If Friday's Red and White Spring Game would have been a jersey scrimmage, the defense would have won by a big margin.
As it was, the White team posted a 3-0 victory on an early 27-yard field goal by junior kicker Jake Stewart of Austintown.
That kick came on the game's first offensive possession by the White and was the only real scoring opportunity either team had the rest of the night.
A crowd of just over 1,000 watched as neither offense could produce much yardage. In fact, both teams had a net 64 yards passing, while the White team rushed for 64 yards and the Red managed just 47.
YSU coach Jon Heacock was anything but upset over the outcome of the game.
"This night is about the kids having some fun after a tough spring workout," Heacock said. "I think they had some fun tonight.
"There wasn't a lot of scoring, but you have to remember that the offense is limited as to what plays they can run and the defense is limited to what defenses they can use."
Stewart has seen limited practice time this spring because of a heavy class schedule, but it didn't affect his kicking.
"I've only had about four workouts with the team," Stewart said. "But I've been kicking every other day on my own."
The former Fitch High standout wasn't overly excited about having the game's only points.
"It was nice to make the kick, but I was kicking for both teams and I would have tried just as hard for the Red team," he added. "The Red coaches were kidding me before the game, saying if I was going to miss one, miss it for them. But I try to make every kick I attempt."
Junior tailback Josiah Doby of the Red team, who missed all of last season with injuries, led all the rushers with 53 yards on 11 carries. Senior tailback P.J. Mays, for the White, finished with 31 yards, but on only six carries, and teammate Darius Peterson had 21 yards on four tries.
The quarterbacks were given a lot of opportunity to show their stuff as the teams combined for a total of 45 passes.
The Penguins are going into the 2002 season without a returning quarterback as four-year starter Jeff Ryan has graduated.
Their performance Friday night was not impressive. The White quarterbacks were 9-of-25 and the Red's were 8-of-20. Several of the quarterbacks played for both teams.
Freshman redshirt Aaron Marshall, who has been running with the first team all spring, was 3-of-7 for the White for 21 yards and 5-of-10 for 41 yards but with two interceptions for the Red.
Junior transfer Matt Crivello was 3-of-8 for 26 yards for the White and was 0-for-2 for the Red, while senior Justin Green finished 0-for 1 for the White and 3-for-8 for 23 yards for the Red, with one interception.
Senior Colby Street, who has practiced only on weekends this spring because of class work, was 2-of-7 for 15 yards while only playing for the White.
"We don't have a Jeff Ryan back this year back there, but the youngsters that we have are doing well this spring and working hard," added Heacock. "We'll be all right there this season."
The White team came up with all three interceptions on defense; they were made by Yancey Marcum, Matt Estes and Jake Godec.
Senior linebacker Jon Tekac led the White defense with six tackles, including one for a loss, while Brandon Byers and Anthony Barone each had five. Byers led the way with three tackles for losses, including two sacks.
Senior defensive end Martin Stachowicz led the Red defense with seven tackles, three of them for losses, including a sack. Junior transfer Scott Thiessen also had seven stops.
Crivello, who started at quarterback for the White, led the opening scoring drive, completing all three of his passes in the 50-yard drive.
The closest the Red came to scoring came in the second half when Scott Good raced through to block a punt by Kosta Karapetsas and Doby scooped it up and raced to the end zone, but Good was offside on the play and the score nullified.
Karapetsas punted well for the White, averaging 44.5 yards on four punts. Sophomore Ryan Martino, who punted for the Red, averaged 30.7 yards on three kicks. Karapetsas' first punt traveled 53 yards.
Tekac wasn't that impressed with the White team's shutout, but thought the whole team has improved this spring.
"The shutout was nice, but it's not that important," Tekac said. "We have improved a lot since our first scrimmage, but we still have an awful long way to go."
Senior offensive tackle Andy DeNiro wasn't concerned over the lack of offense in the game.
"It is really hard to put a team together like this in two days," he said. "We've got first team players mixed with second team players and they haven't worked together much all spring.
"The important thing is that overall we have improved this spring and we just have to keep it up over the summer and into the fall."