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YSU snaps 11-year skid against UNI Panthers



Published: Sun, September 23, 2012 @ 12:01 a.m.

READ | Game notebook here

READ | Puskas on Wolford style

By JOE SCALZO

scalzo@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

A dozen years of frustration came down to one play on Saturday night.

The Youngstown State football team was clinging to a 42-35 lead by the tips of its fingernails, while the fans were gnawing them off.

With five seconds left and Northern Iowa on the Youngstown State 11 yard line, the Panthers put the game in the hands of their spectacular freshman quarterback, Sawyer Kollmorgen.

And, it turns out, in the hands of the officials.

Northern Iowa ran a pick route on YSU cornerback Julius Childs, an illegal play designed to free up Brett LeMaster in the end zone. With linebacker Ali Cheaib in coverage, Kollmorgen fired a pass to LeMaster that safety Donald D’Alesio batted away with no time left.

Ballgame.

Or was it?

The official threw a flag and what remained of the ninth-biggest crowd in Stambaugh Stadium history began mentally checking off the penalty yardage.

“At first I thought they were calling it against us,” said D’Alesio, who was credited with breaking up three passes. “And then I kind of replayed the play [in my head]. Then I heard what the ref said and we were all excited.

“I actually saw Ali run [in celebration] and that’s when I knew they called it on them and not us.”

The official called offensive pass interference, the crowd exploded and YSU’s sidelines emptied, filling the field with a sea of red.

“Everybody stormed the field and I didn’t know what to think,” said junior quarterback Kurt Hess, who had to sweat out the final 1:50 on the sidelines after tossing the game-winning touchdown, a 26-yard bullet to Christian Bryan. “A lot of energy, a lot of relief that we let out all at once.

“It was definitely a significant win for our football team.”

UNI coach Mark Farley was unhappy both with the call — “I’m still waiting to find out [what happened],” he said — and the play clock, believing there should have been one second left.

“All the officials were holding up one finger,” he said. “Then they huddled and seemed confused.”

Hess completed 20 of 28 passes for 290 yards, four TDs and no interceptions, making two huge fourth-down conversions (including a 26-yarder to Will Shaw on the game-tying drive that may have been the best play of Hess’s career).

Jamaine Cook added 146 yards rushing and a TD for the Penguins (4-0), who snapped an 11-game losing streak to the Panthers. YSU had not defeated UNI since 2000, the last year of Jim Tressel’s tenure with the program.

That was also the last year the Penguins began a season 4-0.

“It’s a great situation to be in,” YSU coach Eric Wolford said. “At the same time, we’ve got to continue to remain humble. We have bigger things we want to do than just be undefeated for the first part of the season.

“If we want to play 15 or 16 games, right now we’re just at the end of the first quarter. We’ve got four down and we’re getting ready to start the second quarter.”

That begins in two weeks. YSU has an open date next weekend, then travels to North Dakota State to play the defending FCS champions.

“We’re going to enjoy this for 24 hours,” Hess said. “We need to realize this is just one small step for us. We have bigger goals.

“We need to keep our minds on what we want to achieve.”


Comments

1bmanresident(597 comments)posted 1 year, 10 months ago

It would appear the gluttonous spending of YSU's current administration could be the reason the football is good. The brand new state of the art training facility that was built on the backs of Valley parents through ridiculous tuition hikes has made the football team better. It's too bad the academics are not improving as well.

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2WhatRUAfraidOf(85 comments)posted 1 year, 10 months ago

bman, apparently you have a PhD in Higher Ed Admin (NOT!!!) or you wouldn't have made such idiotic comments.

Sports are auxiliaries and are funded completely separately from teaching and learning endeavors at higher ed institutions. They are also to be totally self-supporting. The training facility was built with funds from donations and, possibly, capital improvement funds, but YSU cannot utilize general funds, which includes tuition payments, to support any athletics endeavors.

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3Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 1 year, 10 months ago

DITTO bman @
From some of the comments above
you sure hit the nail on the head .

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4Education_Voter(838 comments)posted 1 year, 10 months ago

Fantastic game. Plenty of challenges for fans and tailgaters as well...winds shaking tents, soaking cold rain, wet bleachers. Yet plenty stayed to cheer on this team.

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5WilliamSwinger(341 comments)posted 1 year, 10 months ago

I was out picking up some pizza about 10:30 pm and didn't realize a game was on until I heard the crowds screaming and cheering. I was great to hear such enthusiasm coming from the stadium and it made me want to be a part of the fun. Great job Penguins! We're proud of you! Keep it going!

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6Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 1 year, 10 months ago

OH MY !!!! looks like some one got their little football toes step on . So sorry !!!! GO pens !!! . There is that better .

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7Briscoe(14 comments)posted 1 year, 10 months ago

Congratulations to Coach Wolford and the team! Throughout the economic and social ups and downs of this Valley, the one institution that has continued to flourish is YSU. Current enrollment declines are largely the result of shifting unprepared students to the local community college (which is a good thing) as well as the larger economic challenges of the region (high unemployment and declining population). Tuition is still amongst the lowest in the region. People should stop complaining about YSU and praise the coaches and student-athletes for bringing pride to the Valley.

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