Penguins seize control behind Davis at QB
By Charles Grove
For those who had concerns whether the Youngstown State offense was going to be able to move the ball, breathe a sigh of relief.
The Penguins racked up 610 yards of offense in Thursday’s 45-10 blowout of Duquesne at Stambaugh Stadium, opening their season in dominating fashion.
The Penguins capitalized with a quick start as Ricky Davis hit Darien Townsend for a 49-yard touchdown pass before two minutes had left the clock.
“It was huge,” Davis said. “It really set the tone for the night. I threw it and got the wind knocked out of me and thought it was incomplete, and then I heard the fans roar. It was exciting.”
Davis, who had known for a few weeks that he was going to be the starting quarterback, was impressive to say the least. He completed 12 of 16 passes for 187 yards and three touchdowns and ran 10 times for 74 yards.
Townsend was the main receiving threat. He had three catches — including two touchdowns — for 91 yards.
“I believe I made a good statement tonight but after the game walking down the tunnel I was already thinking about West Virginia,” Davis said.
The Penguins were balanced offensively rushing for 394 yards and throwing for 216. The offensive line dominated Duquesne’s front seven, opening up big holes all night and keeping the backfield protected.
Jody Webb finished with 96 yards and Martin Ruiz rushed for 89 yards and a touchdown. Third-string running back Tevin McCaster picked up 107 yards in the final quarter when the game was no longer in question.
“I thought we had a good mix tonight,” YSU head coach Bo Pelini said. “We weren’t one dimensional and it kept them on their toes. The O-line blocked well tonight.”
Defensively, the defense lived up to the hype. Duquesne quarterback Dillon Buechel was limited to 188 yards passing and the Dukes managed just 34 yards on the ground.
Once the Dukes fell behind, it was apparent the running game had to be at least in part abandoned.
“It’s going to be a good year,” Pelini said speaking about the defense. “I thought we competed really well on the outside.”
Defensive end Avery Moss said once the team knew the pass was coming, that made the night enjoyable.
“It just makes the game more fun,” Moss said. “You’ve got Derek Rivers on the other side and Jaylin [Kelly] bitzing like crazy. It’s just makes everything fun.
Duquesne made the game interesting when trailing 24-7 a couple of minutes before halftime. The Dukes drove down the field and scored a late touchdown as Buechel hit Nehari Crawford from six yards out to make it a two-score game.
But that was all the Dukes could muster.
A quick possession after halftime and another Penguins score erased nearly all the doubt of the outcome.
“It was important to step on their throats after we kind of gave them life,” Pelini said. “We had a good start to the third quarter and got the momentum back which I thought was good.”
The overall grade Davis and the coaching staff gave out? Good but still things to work on before the Penguins head to Morgantown to face West Virginia.
“I just need to clean up some little mistakes and get ready for West Virginia,” Davis said. “There were a couple of mistakes I wish I could have back.”
But the extra time off after a Thursday opener should help.
“The days off are huge,” Davis said. “We’ll need a lot of preparation.”