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Another day to scream

Published: Sun, October 31, 2010 @ 12:08 a.m.

By Joe Scalzo



Saturday’s Youngstown State-Northern Iowa game was the 10th version of a bad horror movie, with all the requisite rules about sequels (courtesy of the “Scream” movies) in play.

To wit:

“You’ve got a killer who’s gonna be superhuman.”

UNI QB Tirrell Rennie filled that role against the Penguins, running for 194 yards and two TDs and throwing for another 152 yards and a TD as the Panthers won their 10th straight in the series, beating YSU 34-30 at Stambaugh Stadium.

“The past will come back to bite you in the butt.”

In four of the last five games, the Penguins held double digit leads against conference opponents.

They lost all four.

“If you want your films to be a successful franchise, never, ever assume the killer is dead.”

This one goes hand-in-hand with the last one, as the Penguins led Western Illinois, North Dakota State and UNI in the final three minutes of all three games.

Each time, the defense failed to get a stop.

Today is Halloween. Saturday felt like Groundhog Day.

“I’ve never been through any type of process like this in my life,” Penguins coach Eric Wolford said. “I can handle getting beat, when we get beat. I have a hard time handling giving football games away.

“We’ve given entirely too many games away.”

The latest version looked a lot like the loss to North Dakota State three weeks ago. YSU took a 30-27 lead against the Panthers on a 39-yard TD run by Jamaine Cook with 2:27 left.

The Penguins squibbed the ensuing kickoff, lost containment and allowed Carlos Anderson to return it 58 yards to the YSU 19.

On the next play, Rennie broke through the middle of the defense for the touchdown.

The whole thing took 19 seconds.

“Since Day One of camp, [defensive coordinator Rick] Kravitz has been preaching, ‘We don’t care where they put the ball at, we’ve got to get a stop,’” YSU senior defensive tackle Torrance Nicholson said. “If they don’t score, we don’t lose.

“Obviously they scored and we lost.”

The Penguins got the ball back at their own 22 with no timeouts, but a Kurt Hess incompletion on first down, followed by three straight Cook runs that managed just four yards, doomed YSU to its fifth straight loss — all in Missouri Valley Football Conference play.

“It just rips your heart out,” Wolford said. “It’s kind of where we are right now.”

Like they have for most of the year, the Penguins started fast, grabbing a 14-3 lead early in the second quarter thanks to Hess TD passes to Andre Barboza (33 yards) and Dominique Barnes (71 yards).

But after containing Rennie for much of the first half, the junior QB transitioned from a passer to a runner in the second half, gashing YSU’s defense for 137 yards rushing in the final 30 minutes. Although the thin YSU defense seemed to tire, much of the damage was due to missed assignments and poor tackling.

“Everybody has to be disciplined and we got away from our option responsibilities,” Nicholson said. “We just had to play fundamentally sound for 60 minutes and we probably did for about 40.”

UNI (5-3, 4-1), the only team in the conference with fewer than two losses, finished with 431 yards, including 279 on the ground. It’s the fifth straight game YSU’s defense has given up at least 400 yards.

Cook finished with 127 yards on 26 carries but lost a fumble inside the 10 that led to a first quarter Panther field goal. Hess was 14 of 22 for 218 yards but also threw an interception that led to UNI’s first touchdown.

“In these games the margin of error is very small,” Hess said. “We made too many mistakes.”

YSU (3-6, 1-5) finishes its season with winnable games against Illinois State and Indiana State but is guaranteed to finish worse than last year’s 6-5 mark.

One of the rules of the first Scream film was to never say “I’ll be right back,” but that’s one Wolford is willing to break.

“I am confident that we’re very close,” he said. “These kids are playing hard. They’re playing their guts out.

“I tell the coaches, we need to keep finding ways to be even more creative than we have been, to get four to seven more points somehow. We keep getting close. We’ve got to get a little bit more.”


1whatsnext(4 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

The defense is absolutely terrible. I believe this team is more talented than last year but always finds a way to lose. I have no confidence that next year will be any better! What great recruits do you see so far that have made a difference in this year's team? The best players on this team were brought in by Heacock

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2Nonsocialist(710 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Any losses this year doesn't make Heacock a better coach. Heacock took over a program that was the class of 1AA and turned it into a program worthy of only one playoff appearance in 9 years.

Coach Wolford in no way could accept the job in mid-December and recruit a whole new staff and players and turn the team around in the first season. Jim Tressel's first season record was 2-9 after taking over from Bill Narduzzi.

Frankly, I'm surprised at all that has been accomplished thus far. We led in every game including Penn State. Some high impact recruits of Wolford include Hess, Jones, Bellamy,and D'Alesio.

The future is very bright for the Penguin squad. If I thought Wolford was another Heacock, I'd be the first to demand his firing. These are exciting times in Penguin Nation.

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3valleyred(1103 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

The similarities between Tressel's and Wolford's first seasons are eerily similar. Wolford may have a 30 person recruiting class this year with some transfers mixed in. Next year, if we fix this defense, will be better than this.

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4ysupenguins_com(108 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

Not that I am disagreeing with your overall tone nonsocialist, but Heacock accomplished things that coach T could not ...play in a conference. Also, had Heacock been calling the defense this year, we would be 7-2 right now. Also, let's not forget the "post-graduate" education that Tressel and Heacock had. By that I mean post-season. It takes a completely different type of coaching to get to the play-off, than it does to win in the play-off. It will be years (if at all) before Wolf learns this. Narduzzi and Heacock did not have the luxury of being able to build what ever type of team they wanted (as did Tressel) ...neither will Wolford. He now knows what this conference is all about, and has to build a team to compete within it. I hope he reevaluates his defensive scheme and coordinator. Also, Hess is Heacock's recruit, he red-shirted last year. If we are going to keep the spread, Hess may not have a job, and he is so very very talented. Wolf could build a team around him.

Also, be worried about too much local talent. This area has many big-time recruits, and they still do not play at YSU ...MAC schools at a minimum. It makes no sense to recruit the bottom of the barrel, just to have players from the Valley. Wolford needs to recruit CA, TX, PA and GA. (in addition to OH and FL which he currently does). The top JUCO players in the country are in CA.

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5Nonsocialist(710 comments)posted 5 years, 8 months ago

YSU Penguins.com,

From my vantage point, and I've been a close follower of Penguin football since they played at Fitch Stadium under Narduzzi, the program reached its lowest point during the Heacock years. During the JH years, recruiting, attendance, on-field success, team discipline, and overall moxy seemed to be at its lowest point. I mostly fault the AD for renewing his contract after a period of underperformance.

I don't know enough about the game itself to know what the future holds for Wolford, but I think if you past the W-L's, you readily see improvement.

What will be interesting is Slocum's performance this winter and whether he stays on as HC. Like the Wolf, I had high hopes for JS. I think the mens BB program may need a similar restructuring as the FB program is undergoing.

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