YSU rolls past Valparaiso to improve to 2-0
By Joe Scalzo
There were no 35-point quarters or 63-point halves or 77-point finals in this one. No paging through the record book or pitying the poor ROTC students who had to do push-ups after every touchdown.
But the Youngstown State football team did put up some good numbers in Saturday’s 59-0 win over visiting Valparaiso.
0: Number of points allowed.
0: Number of major injuries suffered.
2: Number of Penguin wins so far this season.
52: Number of players who saw action.
0: Number of times YSU has to play Valparaiso next season.
“We brought in Reverend Lewis Macklin on Friday night for our chapel service and he brought up an interesting point,” Penguins coach Eric Wolford said. “He said that we’re on assignment.
“We’re on assignment from the man upstairs. We’re on assignment for the community. We’re on assignment for this university. We’re on assignment for this program. And our assignment is to be 1-0 every week.
“It kind of put things in perspective a little bit. Obviously, when we do well, it’s a positive thing for our community. We all know that we play for Youngstown.”
The Crusaders, a non-scholarship team that lost to YSU 77-13 last season, were coming off a 36-34 defeat to Division II St. Joseph’s (Ind.), so there was never really a threat of an upset. Saturday’s game was scheduled so YSU could get a sixth home game and a FCS victory to count toward the playoffs.
The Penguins did both.
Kurt Hess threw two touchdown passes, Ali Cheaib blocked a punt and Jeremey Edwards returned a fumble in the first five minutes a as YSU jumped out to a 21-0 lead. It was 49-0 by halftime.
The Crusaders finally crossed midfield halfway through the third quarter but only two of their drives ended in YSU territory as the Penguins earned their first shutout since 2009.
“I was not aware of that [shutout streak], but that is definitely big for us,” said Edwards, a senior safety. “Hopefully there’s more to come. It’s good to see us make the improvements from last year because we’re definitely a better unit.”
Backup running back Torrian Pace rushed for a career-best 146 yards and scored two touchdowns and third-stringer Demond Hymes added 80 yards rushing and two TDs, helping YSU roll up 334 yards on the ground.
Saturday’s game lacked the drama of last weekend’s big win over Pitt but it gave Wolford a chance to use a lot of young players and save some wear and tear on his starters before the conference schedule begins in two weeks against Northern Iowa.
It may not have been very exciting for the announced crowd of 15,347 but, then, that was the point.
“We go into each week like we’re playing Pitt or Northern Iowa,” Pace said. “We don’t take a team for granted. I believe if we execute on all cylinders, we’ll be just fine going through the conference.
“Playing Valpo and next we go [against] Albany, I think we’ve got to do the same thing, just play like we did against Pitt.”