It was their first action of the spring under game-like conditions.
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- The Youngstown State football team got into its first real scrimmage session of the spring Friday afternoon at Stambaugh Stadium.
The Penguins went at it for about an hour in a controlled session, with officials, game clock and down markers.
Coach Jon Heacock liked a lot of what he saw in the session.
"There was a lot of good hitting, blocking and tackling out there today," Heacock said. "We scripted some situations that we wanted to see and to see how they reacted to them.
"We had a pass thrown behind the line of scrimmage that went for a turnover and that's something we have to talk about," he added. "We also have to score in the red zone and we have to be able to get that first down when we're backed up to our own end zone."
Friday was the sixth spring practice session and although Heacock said the team has improved he added they still have a long way to go.
Four offensive starters out
"We were playing today without four returning starters on offense, but the kids still are working very hard," he added. "We are nowhere near where we need to be, but then there are still 139 days to Slippery Rock and 169 days before we start the Gateway season."
In Friday's scrimmage the offense had little trouble moving the football until it reached the red zone -- inside the 20-yard line.
Sophomore quarterback Tom Zetts of Boardman directed the No. 1 offense down the field on its first possession, using senior tailback Josh Cayson for most of the work, but once the offense got to the 10 it stalled.
Failed to score in zone
The Penguins didn't score a touchdown on their first three drives, although freshman redshirt kicker Brian Palmer from Mineral Ridge made field goals of 21, 29 and 37 yards.
The offense's first touchdown came on its fourth possession when senior fullback Nick Forro scored on a 2-yard run.
The first four series began at the offense's 40 yard line, the next two at the defense's 15-yard line. Zetts tossed a 10-yard scoring pass to junior fullback Demetrius Ison on one of those short drives.
With a first-and-goal situation at the 5-yard line, the offense scored on two straight drives -- junior tailback Regis Edgerson and freshman Brandon Nicholson both tallied on short runs.
On the final sessions, the offense started at its own 1-yard line, trying to get a first down late in the game. They succeeded once and the defense held once.
Leading the way
Zetts was 8-of-9 passing for 56 yards and a touchdown, while senior Aaron Marshall was 3-of-5 for 42 yards and sophomore Vince Gliatta was 5-of-5 for 25 yards.
Cayson, a Warren JFK product, finished with 67 yards on 10 carries, while Edgerson had 46 yards on 14 tries. Ison had four catches, all out of the backfield, for 36 yards and a touchdown.
Palmer, the heir apparent to Nick Terracina, put on an exhibition at the end of the scrimmage.
His first kick was a bullet from 51 yards, then he tried three times from 57 yards, making one, which hit on top of the crossbar and bounced over.
"Brian has a very active leg and he's not afraid to kick it from anywhere," Heacock said. "He might have had a little help from the wind today, but they were still mighty fine kicks."
Several players were held out of the scrimmage with injuries, including junior tailback Monquantae Gibson (shoulder), senior wide receiver Kyle Smith (concussion), sophomore offensive guard Josh Tanner (shoulder) and junior offensive tackle Pat Walker (knee). Senior tight end Shawn Carlson was also held out with a sore jaw.
The Penguins were to hold a light workout this morning at 10 a.m. with no pads and then return to contact drills Sunday at 2:30 p.m.