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Bison too much for banged-up Penguins

Published: Sun, November 17, 2013 @ 12:10 a.m.

Bison too much for banged-up Penguins

By Joe Scalzo



On Saturday, the Youngstown State football team discovered it can’t beat the nation’s best team without starting quarterback Kurt Hess.

Can the Penguins make the playoffs without him?

They’d rather not find out.

Battling a right ankle injury, Hess played just three series and the Penguins played most of the second half with their third-string quarterback in a 35-17 loss to North Dakota State at Stambaugh Stadium.

“I felt like we had our opportunities, regardless of what our quarterback situation was,” YSU coach Eric Wolford said. “It would have been interesting to see [what would have happened] if we had Kurt Hess the whole time. It really would have been.”

Hess injured the ankle in the third quarter of last week’s loss to UNI and finished that game, but he practiced sparingly this week, splitting reps with backup Dante Nania.

After leading the Penguins to a touchdown on their opening drive, Hess played just three more plays in the first half before giving way to Nania at the beginning of the second quarter.

“I tried to push it today,” said Hess, who said he had a sprain with some ligament damage. “I still need to progress a little bit more.”

Nania led the Penguins to a field goal just before halftime but injured his shoulder on a late hit by Bison DE Cole Jirik on the half’s second-to-last play. (Jirik was flagged for roughing the passer.)

Nania started the second half but was ineffective, losing a fumble on the first series before Hess tried to return. The Penguins lost one yard in three plays with Hess, prompting Wolford to turn to redshirt freshman Tanner Garry, a former walk-on from Bowling Green who transferred to YSU in the spring.

“That’s probably my stubborness,” Hess said of re-entering the game. “I wanted to push myself.”

Garry had two good series, leading the Penguins into field goal range on the first one (the 44-yard attempt was blocked), then throwing a pretty 24-yard TD pass to TE Nate Adams on fourth-and-2 to cut YSU’s deficit to 28-17 with 18 seconds left in the third quarter.

But after YSU’s defense forced a punt on the ensuing series, Garry made a freshman mistake, passing up a checkdown to running back Jody Webb in favor of airmailing a deep ball that was easily intercepted by free safety Christian Dudzik.

From there, the Bison went 72 yards on a game-clinching drive, which was capped by a 1-yard TD run by Bison quarterback Brock Jensen.

“A loss like this stings,” YSU linebacker Dom Rich said. “Kurt’s a great leader and he manages the offense well, but we all had faith in Dante and Tanner and whoever was going to play.

“We’re a family here. Whoever’s in there, they’ve got our support and I hope they have the fan support as well.”

Hess said the chances are “very good” he will play in next week’s regular season finale against South Dakota State.

The Penguins (8-3, 5-2 Missouri Valley) have the league’s second-best record, but Hess believes they need to beat the Jackrabbits to make the playoffs.

“Absolutely, it’s do or die,” he said. “If we win, we deserve to be in the playoffs. If we lose, we don’t deserve to be in the playoffs.”


1Brudog99(16 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

No doubt the loss of a starting quarterback will negatively impact a team. When you couple that with a defensive secondary that played NDS's receivers extremely soft along with very poor tackling skills, almost no pass rush, and a quarterback that was running for his life almost all afternoon, YSU's fate was easy to predict early in the game. Please don't get me wrong. I love YSU. But what I saw Saturday is not a playoff quality team.

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2Seve(2 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

It should be pointed out that, due to injury middle linebacker Grant Olson, NDSU's leading tackler, and cornerback Marcus Williams, 20 career interceptions are injured, did not dress, and did not play for North Dakota State on Saturday.

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3papa1(711 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

one player, no matter what the position, doesn'win or lose a football game. overall, north Dakota state was the superior team. no excuses. and filling the stadium next week will be impossible.

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4PeteGuin(7 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

We can talk about the QB situation all day, but it's obvious to anyone that watched the game that the offense is not our problem. I'm with Brudog, there's no part of our defense that executes effectively. I doubt that the defense is designed to have the safeties make all the tackles opposed to the linebackers - but I could be wrong. Poor tackling, poor pass rush, and poor pass coverage are not indicators of a playoff or champion program. Kudos to the offense for stepping up in the face of adversity!

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5HSG(185 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

Ysu took a 15 yard penalty late in the third period which really hurt. The penalty was "unsportsmanlike conduct."

Who was it called on?

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6papa1(711 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

the expansion of the playoffs saved wolfords job. going into the locker room at halftime wolford was heard to say clearly on wkbn radio after the late hit on Narnia, "do you believe that $hit?" and bob hannon said, "you gottat love that guy." really hannon? he represents Youngstown. he loses his temper and cost his team 15 yards and then says that for all to hear? you love him bob. stay classy wolford.

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7Msmack(1 comment)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

Losing your starting quarterback is no excuse! Let me remind you that Kurt Hess is a senior.. This just reflects on how the season will look next year! Don't put all your eggs in one basket! Coach should have been training his 2nd and 3rd string! What an idiot! Ysu is definitely not ready for the playoffs... It's obvious that coach w believes they can't win a game without Kurt Hess!

Disappointed fan
Ms Mack!

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8gobison(1 comment)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

HSG... The unsportsmanlike conduct call was called on the head coach of YSU. Swearing at the reff or somthing like that.

Also the TV station broadcasting the game and sending the signal to Fargo did an awful job. The picture went black every time they showed a replay. It took the people at KVLY in Fargo until halftime to try to explain to the station in Youngstown how to fix the problem. Not good!
Go Bison.
Fargo, ND

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9jmagaratz(189 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

Note to Coach Wolford....

the footsteps you hear belong to Assistant Coach Mangino......

watch out for Strollo's kiss on the cheek....

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10Brudog99(16 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

YSU pissed away two time outs early in the first half because this late in the season they can't get their act together. This resulted in having to settle for a field goal late in the first half instead of going for the TD. That is inexcusable this late in the season. And what happens in the beginning of the second half? More wasted time outs. This is totally on the coaching.

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11jmagaratz(189 comments)posted 2 years, 7 months ago

In all seriousness....maybe we need to develop a sharper sense of reality regarding the football program....
1) the expectation of yearly appearances in the FCS playoffs is a pipe dream.....
2) putting a coaching staff together that would be capable of achieving this is not possible....
3) YSU might be better off pursuing another league affiliation that would increase the possibility of more playoff appearances....

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