By Joe Scalzo
A. The Houston Astros’ closer. Michael Jordan’s barber. John Daly’s dietitian. Youngstown State’s kicker.
Q. What are the worst jobs in sports?
In David Brown’s senior year at Nordoff (Calif.) High School, he went 15 of 19 field goals with a long of 54 yards. In his only year at Ventura (Calif.) Community College, he went 8 of 16 on field goals with a long of 47 yards.
In his 15 games at Youngstown State, he’s gone 6 of 7 with a long of ... 33 yards.
Basically, Brown traveled 2,500 miles to kick field goals for a coach who hates to kick field goals.
“I mean ... it doesn’t ...” Brown said, cracking up. “It’s nice winning, is how I would put it.
“If I get the opportunity to kick a field goal, you definitely cherish them more at a school like this.”
That’s what made last year’s win over North Dakota State so special. Brown made both of his field goal attempts, including a 30-yarder with 2:49 left that broke a 24-all tie. It’s the only game-winner on his resume.
“It definitely felt great,” Brown said. “It’s easier on the nerves when it’s a complete blowout, but as a kicker you’ve got to be ready when your number’s called.”
That doesn’t happen often. One of Wolford’s favorite sayings is “seven is worth more than three” and offensive coordinator Shane Montgomery calls the game accordingly.
Case in point: Midway through the fourth quarter of last month’s win over Northern Iowa, YSU faced a fourth-and-4 at the 29. Rather than attempt a 46-yard field goal, Wolford called for a pass play that went for 26 yards and led to the game-tying touchdown.
A week earlier against Albany, Wolford went for it on fourth-and-goal at the 1, scoring a touchdown that made it a 10-point game with 2:48 left.
“I think it speaks volumes for where they see their ability level,” North Dakota State coach Craig Bohl said. “I think it’s a real attitude that they’re in it to win it, just like we are.”
North Dakota State (43.2 points per game) and YSU (40.8 ppg) are 1-2 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference in scoring, but Bohl takes a more liberal approach to field goals. Bison kicker Adam Keller has already made 8 of 11 this season, with a long of 43.
YSU, meanwhile, has scored 77 touchdowns over Brown’s 15-game career while attempting just eight field goals. Punter Nick Liste missed his only attempt last season.
On the bright side, Brown is 75 of 78 on extra points, including 22 of 22 this season.
“You get good at it,” he said.
Brown knows this isn’t the Cleveland Browns. Field goals are never going to be a big part of Wolford’s game plan. But whenever the Penguins’ offense goes beyond the 50 — which happens a lot — Brown begins kicking into the sideline net, preparing himself mentally and physically to do his job.
“You pretty much have to tell yourself that they’re going to get stopped, even though it doesn’t happen that often,” Brown said. “You’ve got to be like, ‘This is the time I’m going to have to put it through the uprights.’
“You never know when your number is going to be called.”