YSU's offensesaves defensein 51-21-romp
By PETE MOLLICA
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- Every one knew Youngstown State's football team had a good offense, but what they weren't sure about was the defense.
They question still remains unanswered.
The Penguins ran and passed all over Slippery Rock, 51-21, in the season opener before 16,645 fans at Stambaugh Stadium Thursday night.
While the offense appeared in mid-season form, the defense, especially late in the second quarter and early in the third, just couldn't stop The Rock.
After the Penguins jumped out to a 28-7 advantage midway through the second quarter, Slippery Rock answered with two scores to cut the lead to 28-21 before YSU scored the final 23 points.
It marked the 11th straight season-opening win for the Penguins, and it was also the 11th win without a loss against Slippery Rock.
Senior tailback Marcus Mason led the way with 101 yards rushing on 17 carries and three touchdowns, while his senior partner at tailback, Monquantae Gibson, finished with 85 yards on 10 carries and one TD.
Junior quarterback Tom Zetts connected on 10-for-13 passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns, while his backup, senior Mike Schneider, was 3-for-6 for 69 yards and one touchdown.
"It was a good win, but we showed that we still have a long way to go," said YSU coach Jon Heacock. "Especially on defense, where we must get better and quickly."
The offense rolled up 424 total yards, including 237 on the ground, but the Penguins' defense allowed 282 yards. Slippery Rock had 210 total yards at halftime.
"Give Slippery Rock some credit; they played very well," said Heacock. "They stuck with the things they do well and we had a lot of trouble stopping them."
YSU scores on first series
The Penguins scored first on a 63-yard drive on their first possession with Mason diving over from 1 yard out.
The Rock came right back, driving 86 yards to tie the score on a 5-yard pass from Nate Crookshank to Colin Golden.
The Penguins then reeled off three straight scores in the second quarter. The first came on a 3-yard run by Gibson, then Zetts hit junior Rory Berry with a 20-yard scoring pass and Mason scored his second TD on a 6-yard scamper, giving Penguins a 28-7 lead with just under six minutes remaining in the half.
Slippery Rock came to life again and drove 80 yards to close the gap to 28-14 at halftime, on an 8-yard pass from Crookshank to Luke Wetzel.
After YSU stalled on its opening drive in the third period, The Rock drove 62 yards to pull within a touchdown on a 29-yard run by Travis Sarver.
But again the YSU offense rallied as Zetts directed a 79-yard drive, connecting on a 21-yard pass to Da'Michael Horne for the score.
The Penguins scored quickly on a 48-yard run by Mason on their next series, and early in the final quarter added a safety when Slippery Rock snapped the ball on a punt attempt over the head of Kyle Witman.
Then, with Schneider at the helm, the Penguins drove 45 yards for their final score when the former Sharon, Pa., standout hit Brandon Nicholson with a screen pass and the speedster raced 33 yards to the end zone.