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Zetts takes charge in YSU win



Published: Mon, September 11, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



Youngstown State junior quarterback Tom Zetts wasn't thrilled with his first-half performance Saturday against the Maine Black Bears.

He came out the second half all fired up and ready to go, and promptly threw an interception on his first play of the half.

If that wasn't bad enough when the Penguins got the ball back again, Zetts' first pass of the second drive was right in the chest of a Maine defensive back, who was so surprised he dropped it.

"I will say that I never really saw the first guy," Zetts said. "I looked and [tight end] Louis [Irizarry] was open in the end zone and by the time I let it go this guys shows up out of nowhere. It really was a good defensive play."

"Now the second one that I threw right to the defender was just a stupid throw I made," he laughed.

The kind of player that Zetts is, the kind of individual he is, he was able to shake off those two throws and perform like the player he has been for the past two seasons.

After that second poor pass, the 6-foot-1, 210-pound Boardman native, was nearly perfect and drew high praise from Maine coach Jack Cosgrove, who called his performance the difference in the game.

Completed eightstraight passes

Zetts completed eight straight passes after those two errant tosses, two of those for touchdowns.

Even throwing a second interception in the fourth quarter in the Maine end zone didn't bother the Penguins leader.

"We got it all together in the end and that's what we've been striving for since camp began," Zetts said.

And the Penguins are going to need that come Saturday when they face Big Ten defending champions Penn State before more than 100,000 fans at Beaver Stadium in a 3:30 p.m. kickoff.

YSU has never played a Big Ten team in football, but they will follow this year's game with two straight appearances at Ohio State University in 2007 and 2008.

It certainly would have been nice if the Nittany Lions could have won at Notre Dame on Saturday instead of getting buried 41-17 for its first loss of the year.

Maybe the Lions were looking past Notre Dame to YSU?

The Lions aren't going to be one bit hospitable come Saturday afternoon and the Penguins could be in for a long day.

Penn State hassomething to prove

Nobody expects the Penguins to defeat the Lions, but a respectable showing would be nice.

That might not be the case now that Penn State has something to prove after their pasting by the Irish.

One of the chances the Penguins had at being respectable against Penn State was that the Lions would come into the game 2-0 with a big win over Notre Dame and possibly look past YSU.

That's not going to happen now.

Most coaches will tell you that a team makes its biggest improvement from game one to game two.

The second half of Saturday's 34-14 win over Maine was a huge improvement over the season opening win against Slippery Rock.

The first half wasn't.

Maine is a better team than The Rock, but in the second half the Penguins just totally dominated the Black Bears, especially on defense.

Penguins' defensedominated Bears

YSU allowed the Bears 14 yards rushing, 10 yards passing and overall held them to a minus-3 yards of total offense and just four first downs.

They played like everybody has expected them to be playing.

Offensively, the running game wasn't as sharp. But take into consideration that Maine was loading up people all game to stop the YSU running game and still the Penguins finished with 141 rushing yards and 319 total yards.

A lot of people are still wondering about the Penguins use of junior Irizarry, who has caught just two passes in the first two games.

Zetts threw four passes to his big receiver Saturday. One he caught for a touchdown, one was intercepted in front of him. And Zetts overthrew him twice, once in the end zone when he was open, but Zetts was on the run.

Irizarry will be a force in the Penguins offense before long, more than likely this week against Penn State, but most definitely against the Gateway opponents.

Pete Mollica covers YSU athletics for The Vindicator. Write him at mollica@vindy.com.




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