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Turnovers hurt as YSU’s skid hits 4

Published: Sun, October 28, 2012 @ 12:05 a.m.

Turnovers hurt as YSU’s skid hits 4

By Terry Vandrovec

Special to The Vindicator

Brookings, s.d.

No. 22 Youngstown State turned over the ball and control of its season Saturday, falling 41-28 to South Dakota State in Missouri Valley Football Conference action before a crowd of 14,966 at Coughlin-Alumni Stadium.

That makes four consecutive losses for the Penguins, the slide officially erasing all of the leeway earned in a 4-0 start. Even if they run the table, they’ll have no better than an outside shot at earning a berth in the Football Championship Subdivision postseason. That’s not what they had in mind when reaching No. 3 in the polls, their highest standing in 11 years.

“Now, I think our focus needs to be on taking care of Youngstown State,” third-year coach Eric Wolford said. “The turnovers are the glaring thing. You just can’t turn the ball over like that over and over again and expect to have a chance to win when you’re playing good football teams.”

Yes, the turnovers were a part of it as was the case in the three previous losses. YSU (4-4, 1-4) committed three and created just one, although that was returned for a touchdown by defensive tackle Aronde Stanton. The Penguins put up the final 21 points, ending a run of three consecutive weeks without a second-half score.

But this time, the first half was the problem. The Jackrabbits put up 28 points in the second quarter, their largest outburst in a single frame since 2008. Two of those touchdowns were set up by YSU turnovers — Kurt Hess interceptions. Another followed a botched snap on a punt.

SDSU (6-2, 4-2) pushed its advantage to 41-7 on its first offensive play of the second half, when quarterback Austin Sumner hit Aaron Rollin for a 49-yard score. It was part of a breakout day for the Jackrabbits’ passing attack, which had yet to break even the 200-yard mark this season. The sophomore Sumner topped that in the first half against the Penguins and finished 19 of 28 for 351 yards with a career-high five touchdowns.

For the first time this season, he looked like the reigning MVFC freshman of the year.

“We really emphasized starting, and I think that’s what we did,” the 6-foot-5 Sumner said. “I was excited about that, and it just unraveled from there.”

Just one week after failing to reach the end zone in a 27-6 loss at Northern Iowa, SDSU torched YSU, which came in ranked last in the MVFC in pass defense. The Jackrabbits are now 5-0 against the Penguins since joining the conference with four of those wins coming by double digits.

“From the sideline, it looked like in the first half we were kind of almost running in sand,” Wolford said, “I don’t know if it was the grass, I don’t know if it was just not being ready to play. I felt like all week even coming into today, I felt good about us being ready to play.”

It took until midway through the third quarter for YSU to find its footing on the only natural grass field in the MVFC. Hess hit Christian Bryan for a 5-yard score on third-and-goal to give the Penguins their first points since pulling to 7-7 late in the first quarter. A little more than 5 minutes later, Jamarious Boatwright picked off a pass that Rollin bobbled and quickly flipped it to Stanton, who ran 19 yards for a score.

Things might have been interesting in the final minutes if YSU hadn’t fumbled at the SDSU 21-yard line late in the third or turned it over on downs at the Jackrabbitss’ 17 in the middle of the fourth.

Instead, it was too late.

“At halftime, we challenged our guys a little bit and told them it was unacceptable the way we were playing in all three phases,” said Wolford, who is 6-15 in conference games. “We came back and responded a little bit, showed signs of life, which is encouraging, but at the end of the day it was still a loss and we’re not going to make any excuses about it.”


1PeteGuin(7 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

Bring back the Bear! Mark Mangino is looking for a job and he's a proven winner. These kids have demonstrated that they have the talent to get the job done but now they look beaten at the first sign of trouble. I like Wolf but I'm thinking something's going on behind the scenes.

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2Spiderlegs(161 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

Result was predictable. Wolford's mid-week press conference indicated that he saw only minor problems. With Indiana State still in the schedule, there is a possibility that the regular season record will be no better than last year.

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371to76home(6 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

"6-15 in conference games" - That is unacceptable.

Yes, Wolf is a great recruiter... And that is about it.

Poor game management, horrible professionalism(looks like an idiot when he tries to pump up the crowd), terrible game management, kills team morale and never makes proper half time adjustments.

The Pitt win was great and all... But with the talent we have there is no reason we should have loss four in a row like that. Time for a change.

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4busyman(239 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

I agree with you PeteGuin. I said this a couple of weeks ago. Something internal has these talented kids not wanting to play for the coach. I think the second half play in this weeks game was about the teammates coming together to show the coach we can play but not for you. It looks like Strollo won't make the gate this year to pay Wolford's salary. He has really pissed of the fans by not keeping his promises. He may owe the university some money. I wish the best for these young men the rest of the season.

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5blm99(3 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

Why FIckell? OSU's defense stinks. Jim Heacock was responsible for the success on defense, not Fickell. That has become very obvious. Mark Mangino would be awesome. He took a basketball school's football team and won an Orange Bowl... I think Mangino is more realistic than Mike Stoops because he is unemployed at the time. Mike is the DC in Oklahoma, I'm not sure YSU would be that appealing. But, who knows. Hopefully, we can get a coach that will right the ship. Eric Wolford is not that guy. As i said before...over paid and under qualified.

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