By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- Sophomore quarterback Tom Zetts completed 13 passes, including seven to senior wide receiver Kyle Smith, two of which went for touchdowns, as the Red team defeated the White 26-21 in Youngstown State's spring football game Friday night at Stambaugh Stadium.
"Don't tell me that Kyle Smith's not the best receiver you ever saw around here," said Zetts, the former Boardman High standout who will be starting his second season as the Penguins' quarterback.
"Just get it anywhere near him and he'll catch it," Zetts added. "He's amazing, but we have a lot of great receivers this season; it's going to be fun throwing to them."
Smith had nothing but praise for his quarterback.
"Tommy's amazing, all you have to do is hold your hands out and the ball's usually right there," Smith said.
But sometimes it wasn't and Smith still caught them.
"Yeah, I pride myself in my concentration, something that my dad taught me a long time ago," added Smith.
It was the third straight victory by the Red team.
Friday's session was mostly about the passing game and the White team's quarterbacks didn't take a back seat to Zetts, who finished 13-of-22 for 143 yards and two touchdowns.
For the White team, sophomore Vince Gliatta was 8-of-11 for 130 yards and two touchdowns, while senior Aaron Marshall was 6-of-14 for 71 yards and one touchdown, but threw the game's only interception.
Senior Jameson Evans led the White receivers with six catches for 89 yards and one touchdown, while sophomore Rory Berry had five catches for 91 yards and a touchdown. Junior tight end Max King had the other touchdown reception.
Junior tailback Monquantae Gibson finished with 64 yards on five carries, including a 36-yard touchdown run.
"I thought it was a great spring game," said YSU coach Jon Heacock. "We were primarily set up for passing and I thought all of our quarterbacks and receivers did outstanding jobs.
"Kyle [Smith] and Jameson [Evans] had some great catches and all three quarterbacks played well. They've all had some snaps now and it really makes a difference."
Gliatta, who transferred to YSU from Penn State before spring practice in 2004, feels more comfortable at quarterback this year.
"I'm sure that's where I'll be come fall," he said.
"You need at least two good quarterbacks and three if you have them like we do.
"I'm excited about this team, we have a lot of talent here and everybody has been working so hard all spring," Gliatta said.
Zetts was the only Red quarterback and took the team to a touchdown on its first possession, hitting Smith with a 5-yard scoring toss early in the first half.
The Red team made it 10-0 after Marshall was intercepted by sophomore defensive tackle Ben Suran. Junior Joe Bishop kicked a 37-yard field goal to increase the lead.
Gliatta took the White to its first touchdown, connecting on four straight passes, the final for 18 yards to Berry for the score.
Senior defensive back Jason Perry returned the second half kickoff for the Red to the White 45-yard line, from where Zetts put the team in the end zone in just four plays.
It was a fourth-and-1 play that Gibson broke off tackle, hit the sidelines and raced 36 yards to give the Red a 16-7 edge.
This time it was Marshall that brought the White back, connecting on 4-of-5 passes, including a 32-yard strike to Evans and then a 9-yard shot to King for the score.
Zetts took only three plays to put the Red back in command after sophomore Dustin Helle of Girard returned the kickoff to the Red 45.
Zetts hit T.J. Peterson with a 41-yard toss and two plays later watched as Smith went up in the corner of the end zone to pull down a 9-yard touchdown pass.
But the White team wouldn't quit and Gliatta directed another attack, hitting four passes and also running for a 17-yard gain. His final toss was a 1-yard strike to Evans for the touchdown.
The final five minutes of the game were played under a regular clock and Zetts brought the Red team down for a 35-yard Brian Palmer field goal with 2:59 remaining and a 26-21 lead.
The White had one more chance, but on fourth and four from its own 35, sophomore Brandon Nicholson got just three yards and the Red held and then ran out the clock.
Zetts praised the play of his offensive line.
"This was mostly a passing game and my line did just an outstanding job," he said.
"We never had a sack and I was never really under any pressure to hurry."
Heacock said that the defenses were primarily three-man fronts because it was a passing game, but he to felt both offensive lines performed well.
"I think that the kids on both teams had a lot of fun tonight and that's really what this game is all about," he said.