RED-HOT PENGUINS: YSU offense comes alive in blowout of Bears

Staff report

springfield, mo.

The Youngstown State offense had its best performance of the season, and one of the best in school history, as the Penguins picked up their eighth win in impressive fashion beating Missouri State 65-20 on a chilly Saturday at Plaster Stadium.

The Penguins amassed a school-record 747 yards of total offense while the defense forced four turnovers that the Penguins turned into 28 points.

The victory should ensure YSU a return tothe NCAA Playoffs for the first time since 2006. Their 8-3 season featured a 6-2 mark in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.

MSU finishes the season 4-7 and 2-6.

YSU accumulated 572 yards rushing on 54 carries. The Penguins had rushing touchdowns of 94, 75, 61, 53, 52, 1 and 3 yards. Senior TB Martin Ruiz had the best game of his career with 183 yards on 19 carries and three touchdowns.

Redshirt freshman Joe Alessi led YSU in rushing with 190 yards on just seven carries. TB Jody Webb joined the 100-yard party with 166 yards on 15 attempts.

Webb said while it’s nice to see the offense clicking right before the postseason, the team also knows not to get too high.

“We’re not trying to get to stay too high or low,” Webb said. “We just need to keep playing the way we’re playing at the moment and ride this wave into the postseason.”

Quarterbacks Hunter Wells and Nathan Mays combined to complete 16-of-17 passes for 175 yards. Wells had the lone incompletion but completed 14 of 15 attempts, all of which came in the first half.

YSU had one of its most complete halves of the season to build a 34-10 lead at the break. On 40 offensive plays, the Penguins had 418 yards.

In the first quarter, Ruiz had scoring runs of 3 and 1 yards as the Penguins seized control 14-0.

On its first drive, YSU marched 69 yards in nine plays as Ruiz scored from 3 yards out just 4:10 into the contest.

On the ensuing offensive drive, YSU went 82 yards in 11 plays as Ruiz punched it in from a yard out for his second touchdown of the quarter.

After scoring 14 points in the first quarter, YSU scored 20 more in the second quarter.

Just 56 seconds into the period, Webb broke free for a 52-yard scoring run to put the Penguins out in front 21-0. After a 33-yard field goal by MSU’s Zach Drake got the Bears on the scoreboard, the Penguins answered right back as Ruiz found some daylight on the left side and out-raced the Bears to the end zone on a career-long 94-yard scoring run. It was third-longest play in school history.

Webb scored his second touchdown of the game of more than 50 yards to put YSU in front 41-10 just 2:39 into the period. He took a handoff from Wells around the left side and raced 53 yards for a score.

Defensively, YSU held MSU to 272 yards, 65 of which were on the ground. Defensive end Derek Rivers said the YSU defense has grown accustomed to stopping spread offenses.

“We just stuck to our rules and we knew what to do,” Rivers said. “[Spread offenses] might run similar plays but they’ll get into different formations but we’ve learned how to attack them.”

The Penguins will learn their postseason fate this morning during the FCS Playoff Selection Show which is set to air at 11 a.m. on ESPNU.

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