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Published: Sun, November 7, 2010 @ 12:10 a.m.

YSU scores apparent game-winner in final minute, only to allow Illinois State to win game on the last play

By Jack McCarthy



The bitter reality for Youngstown State is that college football games do not last 59 minutes and 33 seconds.

“It’s a 60-minute game, 60 minutes,” said Penguins quarterback Kurt Hess, who scored an apparent game-winning touchdown with 27 seconds to play against Illinois State on Saturday.

But the host Redbirds used dwindling ticks on the clock to march 69 yards in three plays and pulled out a 41-39 Missouri Valley Football Conference victory before 10,076 fans at Hancock Stadium.

“This is college football at it’s ugliest,” Hess said. “It’s one of the hardest things — to lose in the last second.”

Illinois State (5-5, 4-4) scored with one second remaining in regulation on a 40-yard pass from quarterback Matt Brown to Tyrone Walker, their third and most critical scoring combination of the day.

“We’ve had a bunch of games end this way recently, but it hasn’t ended with seven seconds,” said Penguins coach Eric Wolford. “Adversity builds character. We’re a team that’s having a hard time finishing a game right now ... but I’m sure in time we’ll get those things corrected and we’ll have a chance to be a good football team some day.”

The loss was the sixth straight for Youngstown State (3-7, 1-5). The Penguins have led in every game this season but lost in the late going for the fourth time since early October.

The loss overshadowed superlative performances by Hess, a freshman, and sophomore running back Jamaine Cook.

Hess was 19 of 38 for 250 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Cook rushed 43 times for 213 yards, both career highs, and scored twice.

“It was really hard. We came out with a lot of heart and passion and left it all on the field,” said Cook, who carried 19 times for 153 yards in the second half. “It seems like we’re having bad luck. I’ve never seen anything like this [so many late losses] in all my years of football.

“I felt like my team needed me,” said Cook about his second-half surge. “Someone needed to step up, and I knew I had to make some plays.”

Youngstown State went ahead 39-35 with less than a half-minute to play when Hess capped a 12-play, 96-yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown run.

“I saw a lane open up and I just kind of reacted,” he said.

Wolford said the call wasn’t his first choice.

“It was getting to be crunch time there with the clock and not having any timeouts, but Kurt pulled it down and ran it in,” he said. “Quarterback scramble is a dangerous play, but Kurt can run the ball pretty well.”

With a four-point lead to protect, Penguins kicker Jake Smith delivered a 56-yard kickoff into the wind.

The Redbirds set up at their own 31 and were dropped back to the 27 when defensive end Daniel Stewart sacked Brown.

Brown shook off the hit and completed a 33-yard pass to Marvon Sanders to the Penguin 40 with eight seconds showing. On the next play, Brown found Walker for the winning score.

“I was thinking we had to get the ball to midfield,” said Illinois State coach Brock Spack. “And if you get the ball to midfield, you take shots at the end zone.

“Brown’s got a great arm and if it’s close, Tyrone is going to come down with the football. He’s got great big hands.”

Until the late touchdown, the closest Youngstown State came to leading was a 7-7 second quarter tie.

Wide receiver Dominique Barnes paced the Penguins with eight catches for 113 yards, including a diving 32-yarder early in the third quarter inside the 1 that led to a Cook touchdown run.


1Nonsocialist(710 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago

YSU has much to offer new recruits (WATTS, Stambaugh Stadium, beautiful campus, energetic and aggressive coaching staff, play in the second best FCS conference, and strong community support as reflected by game attendence). Next season will be won or lost during the off-season.

It will take much more than one season to recruit and groom talent. The championships are coming again.

Go Penguins!!

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2valleyred(1103 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago

Rick, the secondary coach is a Mr. Ron Stoops from Cardinal Mooney. I would agree our secondary cannot tackle, but 3 of 4 of them are freshmen.

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3prodgodq(172 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago

The predictions of the people I talked to who have been following the team for years were right: Not particularly good this year, but definitely going in the right direction. They have been down to the wire competitive in every game (minus Peen State of course). They have the offense in place. A few decent players on defense and they should be fine.

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4whatsnext(4 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago

Did anyone really believe at the beginning of the season that we would be the worst team in the conference?
The coach said his team was disrespected by being picked 7th in preseason polls. Guess what--we are dead last!
He also said after our win over S. Ill. that we we would now be the hunter instead of the hunted. Wrong again!
The point is -rhetoric means nothing.
The league this year was weak. Every team could score, but no one could play defense. This was a rebuilding year for many teams and I expect it will be much harder to win next year.
Also, just because we have freshmen on defense does not mean they will become very good players. Time will tell. I do know that we had 2 experienced safties on the sideline who did not get sufficient playing time. Were we rebuilding with freshmen when veterans might have made the difference on defense?
Also, Rick, both secondary coaches are rookie college coaches, and I do think that does make a difference. The college game is way more complex.

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5YSUGRAD(134 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago

These guys are a bunch of bums, the coach needs to go.

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6PHISHIE(105 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago

Optimism is a good thing!!! However, so is reality.....YSU will have a hard time recruiting quality players. Most players in the YSU recruiting area want to play Div 1a not Div 1aa football.........Many teams have gone to Div 1a over the past 15 years......Time for YSU to do the same.......YSU will not recruit quality players to be competitive for a championship in FCS. The Missouri Valley Conference is weak. It is not like the powerful Gateway Conference of the 90's. YSU needs to go 1a and recruit 1a players from this area.....PHISHIE

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7PHISHIE(105 comments)posted 5 years, 7 months ago

Yes, YSU needs to go into a Div 1a Football program. Look at Nortre Dame........That is a joke.....YSU would be very competitive with all the local recruits. Anyone that knows football will realize that 1a is the way to go . Look at Boise State........YSU beat them for the NC, Boise State is ranked higher than Ohio State and YSU beat them a ways back for the NC 1a the way to go..................PHISHIE

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