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Team ready to tie loose ends



Published: Wed, September 25, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Justin Green is listed as the starting quarterback for the Southwest Missouri State game.

By PETE MOLLICA

VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF

YOUNGSTOWN -- Jon Tekac and Nick Roberts, two leaders on the Youngstown State football team, are well aware of the problems the Penguins have had over their first three games.

YSU is 1-2 on the season and 0-1 in the Gateway Conference following Saturday's 13-7 loss to Western Kentucky in the conference opener in Bowling Green, Ky.

Tekac is the senior three-year starter at linebacker while Roberts, a junior, has been a two-year starter on the offensive line at guard and center.

Roberts began the season as the starting guard, a position he played well enough to earn Preseason All-American honors. He was switched to center last week for the Western Kentucky game, played there the first half and then moved back to guard.

Roberts, the 6-0, 303 pounder from Newton Falls, doesn't see a whole lot of difference in the positions.

Calls, etc.

"At center, you have to make a few different calls at the line, but there's not much difference in the blocking," Roberts said.

Last Saturday while playing center, he and quarterback Justin Green had a couple of exchange problems at the line. One ended in a lost fumble at the Hilltoppers 4-yard line and cost the Penguins a touchdown opportunity.

"I really don't know what went wrong on that exchange at the goal line," Roberts said. "Our O-line is very close to being very good and I know that we're going to pull it together this week," he said.

Saturday afternoon, the Penguins will play at Southwest Missouri State in their second Gateway contest in Springfield, Mo. The contest will be televised over the Gateway TV network, which will be shown over WFYX Channel 17/62 and Fox Sports Pittsburgh.

Tekac, the 6-1, 235-pounder from New Wilmington, has been having a great season as he leads the Penguins in tackles with 40 stops in three games, including nine behind the line of scrimmage and three sacks.

While Tekac and the defense have been performing well enough to win the offense has struggled.

"It's been frustrating, but you can't let the frustration get to us," Tekac said. "We know the offense is working hard to turn things around and they will. We have faith in whoever the quarterback is in the game."

Wins ahead

Tekac knows what's facing the Penguins at this point.

"Basically, we need to win out our schedule if we're going to get to the postseason," he said. "And it's something that we feel we can accomplish."

Green got the start at quarterback last week. The senior transfer from Bethany College, performed well, other than the fumble at the goal line. He moved the team and guided the lone YSU scoring drive.

As of Tuesday, Green was listed as the starter for Southwest Missouri State, but head coach Jon Heacock still hasn't made the final decision.

Several Penguins were banged up against the Hilltoppers. The most serious was senior defensive lineman Tim Frost, a transfer from West Virginia, who played his high school football at Ursuline.

"Frost will have surgery on his knee [today]," Heacock said. "He'll probably be out two to six weeks. The other injuries are bumps and bruises, like Colby Street and John Schumacher and they will be day-to-day evaluations."

mollica@vindy.com




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