YSU loses again at UNI-Dome,
this time on field goal as time expires
By Joe Scalzo
CEDAR FALLS, IOWA
After blowing a double-digit lead Saturday at the UNI-Dome, the latest heart-breaker at Youngstown State’s perennial house of horrors, Penguins coach Eric Wolford knew exactly where to place the blame.
“I told the team, ‘This one’s on me,’” Wolford said. “At the end of the day, I’ve got to do a better job of coaching them.”
Panthers kicker Tyler Sievertsen made a 34-yard field goal as time expired to win 22-20, handing the Penguins their seventh straight loss at the UNI-Dome while snapping UNI’s five-game losing streak this season.
The Penguins have not won in Iowa since 1999, Jim Tressel’s second-to-last season at YSU.
“The key moving forward for the next 24 hours is we need to understand the way we played is not acceptable,” Wolford said. “At the same time, we need to come back Monday ready to work.
“You can’t let Northern Iowa beat you twice.”
The loss snapped an 11-game FCS win streak for Youngstown State (8-2, 5-1 Missouri Valley), which could have clinched a playoff berth with a victory. Now the Penguins may have to win one of their last two games, with two-time defending champion North Dakota State coming to Stambaugh Stadium next weekend, followed by a home game against South Dakota State.
“People get punched in the face all the time and they’ve got to come back from it,” said YSU quarterback Kurt Hess, whose team lost a close game at UNI two years ago, then came back to beat NDSU the following week. “[The next 24 hours] are gonna stink, they’re gonna be painful, but it’s part of football.
“I’m anxious to see how our team responds.”
Backup quarterback Brion Carnes got his first career start in place of concussed starter Sawyer Kollmorgen and struggled for most of the first half. But he played well in the second half, throwing for two touchdowns and driving the Panthers for the winning score.
On that game-winning drive, the Panthers went 56 yards in 15 plays, chewing more than four minutes off the clock while converting three third downs and a fourth down to reach the Penguins’ 17. Wolford called two timeouts to try and freeze Sievertsen but it didn’t work on the MVFC’s best kicker.
When asked what he was thinking during the kick, UNI coach Mark Farley joked, “I was thinking, ‘I really don’t want to have to walk across the field and shake a celebrated hand again.’”
After struggling for most of the second half, YSU’s offense came to life on its last drive. Hess capped the 13-play, 78-yard drive with a 4-yard TD run on third-and-goal. But Hess was pressured on the conversion pass and was forced to throw it away.
That incompletion kept the lead at one point and it proved fatal.
Hess completed 15 of 22 passes for 207 yards and a TD and also ran for two scores but he also threw a third-quarter interception, one of two second-half turnovers for the Penguins. The other came on a kickoff return by Martin Ruiz, who fumbled it away at the YSU 37 to set up UNI’s second touchdown of the half, a 13-yard TD pass from Carnes to Chad Owens.
The first touchdown was set up minutes earlier on a blocked YSU punt, which gave the Panthers possession at the Pengins’ 14.
“Any time you have a punt blocked, your chances of winning go down drastically,” Wolford said. “Coach Farley did a good job rallying his team after an 0-5 streak and they made plays at key times. Hats off to them.”