By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- Seniors Ryan Jewell and Jason Perry are two of the leaders on the Youngstown State football team this season.
And nobody felt any worse about last Saturday's 31-23 loss to Northern Iowa than those two.
But the two captains also were very quick to say that the Penguins must put that loss behind them and get ready for the next game.
That game, of course, is against Illinois State (6-1, 3-0 Gateway) Saturday in Normal, Ill., with a 2:37 kickoff in the Gateway TV game of the week.
The contest will also be televised locally by WFMJ-TV (21).
"You can't live in the past," said Jewel, the veteran offensive center from Warren. "You can't let it hold you back from what's ahead."
The 6-foot-4, 285-pounder added, "We have to learn from those mistakes and just can't let it happen again. We're going to buckle up the chin straps and go on to the next game."
Perry, a 5-8, 165 cornerback, echoed Jewell's statements.
"I personally felt bad after Saturday's game, but now we have to move on," he added. "We lost by eight points and played a horrible game."
"This is a big game," Perry continued. "Everybody has to be up for it, not just the seniors, and everybody has to be prepared and know their roles and do everything in their power to win."
Confidence still high
Jewell said that the loss didn't have any effect on the Penguins' confidence level.
"When you turn the ball over as many times as we did and still only lose by eight points you don't lose confidence in yourself," he said.
Both players agreed that the Penguins are in a playoff atmosphere.
"Actually, they started last week and we lost, but fortunately we have another chance and we can't lose another one," Perry said.
For the third week in a row, tailback Marcus Mason was selected as the Hill, Barth and King offensive player of the game.
The 5-8, 215 senior from Potomac, Md., continued his torrid ground attack for the Penguins, rushing for 172 yards on 33 carries and scoring three touchdowns.
The effort pushed Mason over the 1,000-yard mark on the season (1,071) and gave him 15 touchdowns.
Second in nation
His season average of 153.0 per game ranks second in the country behind Central Connecticut State's Justise Hairston (174.8) and his 15 touchdowns are tied for second best in I-AA.
The defensive player of the game was senior linebacker Jeff Koval of Austintown. The 6-1, 220-pounder had five tackles and one of two sacks against Northern Iowa.
Special teams honors went to senior punter Joe Bishop, who averaged 38.7 yards on three punts and also continues to boom the ball deep on kickoffs.
The Jim Zdelar offensive lineman of the game was sophomore guard Brad Samsa (6-3, 280) from Howland, while the Jermaine Hopkins defensive lineman of the game was senior tackle Jim Phelan (6-3, 285) from Chicago, Ill.
The Haines Family Player of the game, selected by the YSU radio broadcast team, was junior tight end Louis Irizarry of Ursuline and the Wachovia Leadership Award went to Samsa.
This week a new award, the Football Alumni Difference Maker, was presented to Mason and Irizarry.